TV Guide‘s 2017 Fall Preview issue hit newsstands last week. How obsessed am I with collecting these issues? I called my local Barnes & Noble immediately after it opened on Thursday to ask if the new issue had arrived yet. Assured it had, and with a copy safely behind the counter with my name on it, I waited until afternoon to go get it.
The cover proudly declares this the 65th annual Fall Preview issue of TV Guide magazine. Just 28 of the 96 pages are about to the new fall season, however. That’s about the same as last year’s Fall Preview issue. Back in 2015, the magazine devoted more than 50 pages to new fall programming.
(Curiously, although the TV Guide editorial calendar states the Fall Preview issue went on sale on August 31st, the official TV Guide magazine website says it went on sale on August 30th. The woman I spoke to at Barnes and Noble thought it went on sale on August 28th but that may have been when they received their shipment.)
As I do every year, I purchased two copies of this issue. At $4.99 each plus tax, I spent more than $10 on a pair of magazines I’ll likely never look at again after today. But I can’t help it. I’m a collector.
This Fall on Television
Of the 19 shows included in the Fall Preview section, all but one are on the networks. For some reason, HBO’s The Deuce receives a write-up. One new network show, FOX’s The Gifted, is nowhere to be found. Or if it is, I’ve missed it despite reading and rereading the Fall Preview section a half dozen times.
Don’t expect to find individual reviews. The only critical analysis comes courtesy of Matt Roush’s two-page look at the new season, which technically isn’t part of the Fall Preview section. He’s optimistic about Young Sheldon (CBS), The Mayor (ABC), The Gifted (FOX), Me, Myself & I (CBS), and a few others. Among the shows he doesn’t like are Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC), Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS), and Dynasty (The CW). Roush also praises The Long Road Home (National Geographic) and The Deuce (HBO).
Six of the new shows receive the “Matt’s Picks” seal of approval: The Good Doctor (ABC), Young Sheldon (CBS), The Mayor (ABC), Will & Grace (NBC), Ten Days in the Valley (ABC), and The Deuce (HBO).
A small “Also Coming…” box mentions five additional shows on Netflix, Showtime, and Hulu. A two-page calendar includes dozens of others. That’s how the Fall Preview section can boast it covers 95 new shows.
Some Television History
To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Fall Preview issue, TV Guide dug into its archives to include a pair of flashbacks to the 1981 and 1975 Fall Preview issues. Editor-in-Chief Michael Fell also offers his pick for the best network television lineup of all time: Saturdays on CBS during the 1973-1974 season.
Personally, I’d like to see more of this type of content. But I’m impressed that TV Guide saw fit to give any sort of nod to its history.
During the first six months of 2017, TV Guide had a circulation of 1.3 million copies, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. That’s down from 1.5 million during the first six months of 2016. The magazine had a slightly higher circulation–roughly 1.8 million copies–when NTVB Media purchased it from OpenGate Capital in October 2015.
At some point, the magazine will no longer make money. When that time comes, the TV Guide Fall Preview issue will likely cease to exist. Until then, I’ll keep buying it every year. Not because I need help deciding what to watch on the networks, but because it’s become tradition.
Bonus! Watch commercials for the 1962 and 1979 Fall Preview issues.
Do you still subscribe to TV Guide? Were you able to find this year’s Fall Preview issue on newsstands? Hit the comments with your thoughts.
14 Replies to “Thoughts on TV Guide’s 2017 Fall Preview Issue”
I collected these Fall Preview editions of TV Guide during the 1970s and ’80s, but fell out of the habit at some point during the ’90s, when I ceased to watch as much television. I’m impressed that you keep up your interest in these annual publications.
I haven’t looked at a TV Guide in
(probably) 25 years. I’m surprised it still exists.
For the record, TV Guide’s fall preview went out to subscribers on August 29 and to supermarkets on September 1. This marks the first time in 65 years that the preview came out before Labor Day, I remember growing up that the Tuesday after Labor Day meant 2 things: school would start the next day and the fall preview would come out. For me, it was both the best and worst day of the year. As far as this year was concerned, it was another disappointment. The look back at previous previews was way too short. Also, there was no “pullout schedule card” as promised, but rather a page that if torn out would ruin the magazine. This issue is not worth $4.99, I only read it because I only pay $10 a year for a subscription.
When and why did Saturday nights become a TV wasteland? Yes, that 1973-74 Saturday night lineup on CBS was fantastic. There were many other major hit shows on Saturday night on CBS and the other networks for many years. Over time, however, it became a programming graveyard, not unlike Friday night. I recall a few seasons ago ABC, I believe, just showed reruns on Saturday of shows that aired earlier in the week.
I’m guessing it might have something to do with movies disappearing from broadcast TV. When networks ran movies they had one night filled, but without the movie it left them short programming for a night. In 2003 both ABC and NBC were programming movies on Saturday, with CBS running movies in the last quarter. In 2004 only ABC still ran movies on Saturday with CBS and NBC running reruns. Recently ABC’s movies have been replaced with sports.
On Saturdays, one channel had a big chunk of the total audience — CBS until NBC took over in the mid-80s. Eventually ABC dropped out, and FOX rarely tried to put something on Saturdays.
It’s more cost-effective to put reruns, college football, and other sports on Saturdays.
Also, TV companies are merged with movie studios, so there is less incentive to put new episodes of free entertainment on Friday & Saturday nights.
It is interesting that in the “Best Lineup of All Time” article, the author ignores the fact that “Bridget Loves Bernie” did very well in the ratings. But I suppose the point is more that the struggling “M*A*S*H” found an audience in that time slot the next season.
A few quick observations:  BLB was canceled not because of low ratings, but because many viewers wouldn’t accept an interfaith marrage. Bridget was Catholic and Bernie was Jewish. Today, even gay weddings are no big deal.  The Saturday night graveyard has existed for over a decade, so it is no surprise that all you have left is either sports or reruns. Blame it on the 300-channel universe.
When I wrote my earlier comment about Saturday night, I had not looked at this year’s CBS Saturday night schedule. I realize now that they are doing the same thing that I believe ABC did a few years ago, which is showing reruns of shows from earlier in the week from 8:00-10:00 until “48 Hours” at 10:00. It is a long way from their 1973-74 Saturday lineup.
I would suspect that TV Guide would become a monthly before they stop publishing it. And with a print run of over a million that’s not bad. As it drops I would suspect they would simply reprint online articles and cut back on the listings. Even a print run of a million is huge for a magazine so it could be a while before they decide to cancel it outright.
I think most people are more into digital and online listings now because they’re much more up to date. And the articles can be posted online.
Good points, Patrick. TVG is no longer publishing weekly issues so monthly is proably inevitable. I suspect within 10 years TVG will be like Life magazine, a name to put on special one-off issues. It is definitely no longer a resource to find out what’s on right now.
I stopped subscribing to TV GUIDE after it switched to the full-page format in 2005. I rarely read it now. For me I didn’t like it after it stopped carrying local listings & advertising. it had lost its character at that point for me.
I remember visiting NBC in NY back in Aug. 2012 and getting a copy of that fall’s schedule for NBC. Even then its whole Saturday night was devoted to what it called “Encore Programming”.
Absolulely, Jon! I hated the format change and now I read it only to track cable and steaming content. Like I already said, Saturday is a wasteland and Friday isn’t much better!!
Eeks! I hope I can still track down a copy. I’m not an avid tv watcher, but enjoy picking up the Fall Preview issue to find out all the new shows and details of them (synopsis, actors, time, day, when it starts in the season). I was noticing that the new shows were being advertised to start late September so I figured the new issue would come out a couple weeks before it. So yikes that I am 2 weeks late on going to look for a copy. Any suggestions on where to look this late in the game?