Upfronts 2014: Where's The Funny?

A sad state of affairs for TV-based comedies.  The Upfronts for the 2014-2015 television season is quite different from last year's high-octane announcements of the return of two comedy stars Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams (The "Michael J. Fox Show" and "The Crazy Ones" respectively) among the litany of new (heavily advertised) comedy options ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine", "About a Boy", "Community", etc.).

The 2014-15 schedule has traded in new comedies (and canceled a few), to make room for dramas and (oh good) more reality television.

Network brands are shrinking their aggregate broadcast time devoted to comedy despite the overwhelming successes of Community (whose sixth season was canceled, but was brought back by popular demand for their 5th season), The Big Bang Theory, and Modern Family.  

It is important to remember that comedy is alive and well, just not on Network television.  Runaway successes of Louie, Girls, Veep and Orange is the New Black provide insight that there is high demand for these types of shows, but the highly involved, but small audience size make it less profitable for ABC, NBA, FOX and CBS.  Due to the financials, the genre has shrunk, and new, and established, content has, and will, shift to cable, premium channels or online (Hulu, Netflix or Amzon).

It is a shame that content is judged by some discounted cash flow calculation and ROI algorithm, but that is the nature of television; always has been.  

What is worrying is the fracturing nature of distribution channels for content in a world where content distributors such as Comcast and Verizon do not allow for easy consumption across all platforms.