You do know that you’re going to be inundated with reality TV and game shows this summer, don’t you? The broadcast networks are going to ply their inexpensive filler in that period before all the Dick Wolf franchise shows — a total of nine in primetime — begin in the fall. Why, along with CBS’s “Big Brother” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” there’s even going to be an ABC reboot of “The Dating Game,” called “The Celebrity Dating Game,” with Zooey Deschanel and Michael Bolton as hosts.
But you most likely also know that, across the rest of the TV landscape, summer is definitely not a time for junking it up. Now that production has picked up after the pandemic-driven shutdown, there will be a big group of new shows premiering — and tons of shows returning, too, including the second seasons of Apple TV+’s much-loved “Ted Lasso” (July 23), Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” (July), Hulu’s “Love, Victor” (June 11), and Paramount+’s “The Good Fight” (June 24). That’s the way it has worked every summer over the past decade or so; the networks check out creatively and the other outlets stay in the game, seizing the opportunity.
But the surge of fresh content will be especially strong this summer for good reason. During the most difficult periods of the pandemic in the United States, people turned to TV more than ever. According to one Deloitte survey from January, consumers who stream were paying for an average of five subscriptions, up from three before the pandemic. That’s quite a rise. Television offered people who were locked down in their homes, unable to see friends and loved ones, a connection to the world and a sense of virtual travel. It gave families stuck together something to share. And it provided entertainment and distraction when we couldn’t go to restaurants, concerts, or sports events. People who didn’t tend to bother much with series TV were suddenly desperate to find the good stuff to watch, or even the banal stuff, such as “Tiger King.” Something, anything, to take away the house-bound boredom.
Now, as the country gets back to business, the streaming services want to hold on to all of those converts. They want to make the case to their subscribers that now is not the time to cancel, even if COVID-19 mandates have loosened. They want to promise a lot of good new and returning shows while they still have their new subscribers’ attention. They want to talk them down off the ledge.
Apple TV+ is especially focused on maintaining viewers with summer premieres. After all, the streamer can’t fall back on an extensive library of old shows and movies like its competitors; it only features original series. Not only is it bringing back the popular “Ted Lasso,” it’s introducing the star-filled likes of “Schmigadoon!,” “Lisey’s Story,” “Physical,” and “Mr. Corman,” a series written by, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a public school teacher (Aug. 6).
Now would be the time for me to remind readers not to be overwhelmed by the costs of the many streaming services. If you sign up, watch what you want over the course of a month or two, and then cancel; you aren’t stuck paying for entire years. You’ve gotten many hours of entertainment but paid less than the price of a single night at the movies.