The New York Times reported that the success of Under the Dome, the adaptation of Stephen King's novel on CBS, is a harbinger of programming to come. Expect more high-quality series to debut in June, July, and maybe even August, instead of just the typical low-budget mediocrity that has usually been dumped there during summers past.
The TV networks are taking more chances in an effort to counter ratings slumps and decreased advertising revenue. In addition to CBS, both FOX and NBC have launched big new shows outside of the traditional crowded Fall timeframe. Under the Dome was originally meant to air on Showtime, which explains some of its more graphic depictions of sex and violence, but that is still a trend that will continue to grow as broadcast networks try to compete with the seeming "censor-free" nature of the plotlines of most of the hits on pay channels. We're seeing the shock-value quota go up with more violent and gruesome series, all vying for audience attention. Most importantly, the networks are recognizing that viewers are time-shifting how they watch television, so they're starting to take DVR use into consideration when they calculate their ratings, as a shrinking number of people watch TV live anymore. We will see more programs that have fewer episodes, packing in higher quality in less hours, making it all attractive to those of us who binge on their entertainment, catching up on series over long weekends and holidays.
TV might still be considered a vast wasteland for some, but the boob-tube might finally be growing up and challenging those expectations.