Advanced Television

Analysis: US TV relying on reboots and spin-offs

May 20, 2019

In the first half of 2019 the proportion of new US TV commissions using existing stories such as comic-books, novels and older TV shows increased significantly, raising the question – is America running out of new ideas?

In November and December 2018, one in five commissions’ inspiration stemmed from existing source material according to Ampere Analysis. In comparison, in March and April 2019 this share rose to almost one in three. In addition, growth has been increasingly driven by spin-offs and rebooted content. Literary adaptations accounted for 59 per cent of adaptations in November and December 2018, but this fell to 49 per cent three months later in March and April 2019. Conversely, spin-offs and reboots rose from 28 per cent to 43 per cent of existing-source commissions in the same period.

Nearly half of all spin-off and reboot commissions fall under the Reality (19) and Children & Family (11) genres. The 19 Reality spin-off and reboot commissions were spread across 12 different commissioners, led by TLC and AMC’s We TV. TLC is spinning off new shows from its successful 90 Day FiancéSay Yes to the Dress franchises, as well as rebooting the 90s fashion series What Not to Wear. We TV is spinning off new shows from the Growing Up Hip HopLove After Lockup, and Marriage Boot Camp series. The majority of Reality spin-offs and reboots were commissioned for cable networks, which accounted for 18 of the 19 Reality shows. In the Children & Family category, Nickelodeon is the currently the largest single commissioner of reboots and spun-off content this year (including Rocko’s New Modern Life (pictured)), and is behind 7 of the 11 Children & Family spin-offs & reboots, with the remainder coming from studios (Disney+ and Warner Media) planning to launch their own SVoD services by the end of the year.

Among the 31 commissioners of rebooted and spun-off content, after Nickelodeon, ABC vies for second place with Disney+, having commissioned five reboots and spin-offs. It has commissioned a reboot of two classic game shows and the 90s police procedural New York Undercover, as well as a spin-off from hit medical drama Gray’s Anatomy and Comedy Black-Ish. Level with TLC, cable network Bravo is also working on four productions, including spin-offs from reality series Below Deck and medical drama Married to Medicine as well as reboots of reality format Blind Date and LGBT+ drama Queer as Folk. 

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