Why You Should Care About the TCAs 

     January 5, 2016


From January 5th through January 19th, the TV press will all (or mostly) gather in Pasadena, California. Why? It’s TCA time! But what does that mean?

Short version: TCA stands for Television Critics Association. Twice a year, the TCAs put on a press tour (Comic Con this is not) to give critics, journalists, and editors a look at upcoming series. Network presidents, showrunners, and of course the series’ stars are all on hand to talk about these projects in a 2 week event.

Longer, more interesting version: The Television Critics Association was born as a kind of trade organization, and in the 1970s, it mustered its powers in order to create a network-hosted event that would give those writing about the TV industry from across the country access to some of the top content creators, all in one place. (You can read about its full history in more detail here). The broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW) as well as smaller networks (i.e. all of cable and streaming) each arrive with panels, presentations, and parties that showcase their producers, showrunners, stars, and those associated with new (and sometimes returning) series, in the hopes of answering press questions and sparking interest in their creations.


Image via Frank Micelotta/FX

The value of the TCA press tour differs depending on the group. Veteran TCA members (non-members can attend, but must get credentials for each network panel) might get some great, detailed information about certain projects from the showrunner at a post-panel party, while news writers might be delighted over information that drops about things as exciting as the Twin Peaks reboot, and as unexpected as Predator. There are opportunities for tons of interviews for buzzed-about TV shows (like Jessica Jones and Daredevil Season 2) as well as new information about highly-anticipated spinoffs (such as Fear the Walking Dead last year). For critics and those who write editorials about TV, it’s also a chance to get an in-depth look at a huge number of series, and start parsing out trends that will define television over the coming year (and for that, it is invaluable).

Still, the press tour can apparently be somewhat grueling, being referred to (like by my friend Tim Goodman over at THR) as “the Death March with Cocktails.” But it’s also a great opportunity for TV writers and editors to get a sense of what’s coming up in the next few months, both regarding series we’re already looking forward to, and for series that could be the next big thing.

I say “apparently” because this upcoming Winter Press Tour will be my first foray into the land of TCA, and I’ll be taking off to Pasadena for the better part of a week to get that aforementioned preview of what we should be looking forward to in 2016 (and which we might rather avoid). Our own Haleigh Foutch and Christina Radish, both TCA press tour veterans, will be there the whole time, writing up news from the panels and conducting interviews, all of which — if you’re a TV fan — you should be keeping an eye out for.

So get ready: we’ll be posting news, updates, interviews, and more (check the TCA tag starting Tuesday, January 5th), but you can also follow us on Twitter for the very latest happenings (@haleighfoutch, @christinaradish, and @keeneTV). The game is afoot!


Image via Netflix