After facing a brutal 2020, some cable channels are ready for better things in 2020.
TBS will launch the “Go-Big Show” – a competition that may grab cable’s wrestling fans – on Jan. 7. Then TNT will launch the second season of “Snowpiercer” (shown here), its ambitious fantasy drama, Jan. 25. The next day, TBS starts a new season of its “Misery Index” game show.
Eight days later, Tru TV will start the season for its “Impractical Jokers,” followed by the new “Fast Foodies” and “Impractical Jokers: After Party.”
That news comes on the same day as a setback for cable viewers: In June, Conan O’Brien will end his TBS talk show; he’ll continue to do “Conan Without Borders” specials on TBS, but otherwise will be on the HBO Max streaming service.
Dating back to 1976 and 1988, TBS and TNT reflect the days when Ted Turner’s stations had much of the satellite or cable audience to themselves. Then came the massive cable expansion … followed by the streaming networks that took a chunk of the audience.
This summer, the trade paper Variety entitled a story “R.I.P. Cable TV.” During 2019, it said, ratings had dropped 14 percent for TBS, 16 percent for TNT and in the 20’s for some others.
Then came the effects of the pandemic – plenty of available viewers (especially for news networks), but fewer advertisers and fewer shows in production.
Now these stations – part of the Warner cable empire that includes HBO and the prospering CNN – have set their first 2021 plans. They include:
– Jan. 7: “Go-Big Show” (9 p.m., TBS) has macho competitions involving monster trucks, alligators (really), snakes, archery and daredevil stnnts. Wrestling star Cody Rhodes is one of the judges, alongside actress Rosario Dawson, Snoop Dogg and country music’s Jennifer Nettles.
– Jan. 25: “Snowpiercer” (9 p.m., TNT) returns, after a big first-season finale. The train has been speeding through a ruined world, but now there’s been an overthrow of leadership. Also, Mr. Wilford is on another train – with Melanie’s daughter as his protege – speeding toward the Snowpiercer.
– Jan. 26: “The Misery Index” (9 p.m., TBS) starts its season. It’s a comedy game show that has people rating potential awful events.
– Feb. 4: “Impractical Jokers” (10 p.m., TruTV) starts its season. It’s followed by “Fast Foodies” (contestants try to re-create a contestant’s favorite fast food) at 10:30 and “Practical Jokers: After Party,” hosted by Joey Fatone, at 11.