The 3 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2014

Face it, some TV shows matter more than others.

For example, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. matters more to ABC than Grey's Anatomy because Scandal is already a huge Thursday night winner for the network. By contrast, S.H.I.E.L.D. has built a following without any lead-in ratings support and in the process given ABC the bankable Tuesday night property it's long lacked.

I'm telling you this so you'll understand why I chose the shows you see below as the most anticipated TV properties of 2014. These three, I think, matter most to the studios producing them, and consequently to us as investors in entertainment stocks.

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in Arrow. He'll reprise the role in The Flash spinoff pilot. Sources: TheCW, Wikimedia Commons.

The Flash
Episodes ordered: Pilot
Starring: Grant Gustin
Network: TheCW

Premise: Episodes 8 and 9 of season 2 of TheCW hit Arrow introduced audiences to Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a Central City police scientist who is slated to become the super speedster known as The Flash. We don't know much beyond that right now. But if Arrow is any indicator -- and with DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns teaming with Arrow co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg to write the pilot, the comparison seems fair -- the idea is to have Gustin take inspiration from Stephen Amell's Starling City vigilante in becoming Central City's hometown hero. He'll need a fast start in the pilot, which has yet to be scheduled.

Promise: The bigger idea, of course, is to use television to expand the range and scope of the DC Cinematic Universe so that when Wonder Woman appears in 2015's Batman vs. Superman, a significant portion of the mythos will have already been established elsewhere. That, in turn, should make it easier for studio parent Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) to focus on epics rather than origin stories.

Executive Producer Ron Moore will adapt the acclaimed book series. Source: Starz.

Outlander
Episodes ordered: 16
Starring: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan
Network: Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA  )

Premise: Based on the hit book series from author Diana Gabaldon, the show tells the tale of a married former WWII combat nurse transported in time to feudal Scotland, where she proceeds to fall in love with a young warrior.

Promise: Not exactly an all-in bet since Starz also has the pirate drama Black Sails on the horizon. But that's also a new concept while Outlander is based on beloved source material. In ordering a full 16-episode season, Starz is betting that executive producer Ron Moore, one of the principal architects of Syfy's award-winning reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, will once again figure out how to draw a wider than expected audience to a niche concept.

Comedian Bob Odenkirk brings Breaking Bad's crooked lawyer to life in the spinoff. Photo credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC.

Better Call Saul
Episodes ordered: Full season
Starring: Bob Odenkirk
Networks: AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX  ) , Sony, and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  )

Premise: Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan apparently sees this spinoff as a prequel that reveals how Bob Odenkirk's crooked lawyer, Saul Goodman, got involved with the shady characters that would ultimately lead him to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.

Promise: Reports say AMC, which has distribution rights, and Sony, which produces, haggled over the details till the last minute. The good news? There's enough confidence in the product that AMC has agreed to a full series order, though you could argue the network didn't have much choice with Breaking Bad finished and Mad Men nearly complete.

Netflix, meanwhile, will stream Saul episodes in Europe and Latin America shortly after they air on AMC in the U.S. North American subscribers will get access after the season finale airs.  We don't yet have a timeline for Saul but all three studios participating in the project have a lot riding on the ratings.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Which do you rank as the most anticipated TV shows of 2014? Which studios do you believe are best positioned to profit in the year ahead? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 6:32 PM, kkgator wrote:

    The ONLY show I'm anticipating is the return of "Justified". Best show on television, bar none.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 7:27 PM, KellyAnneB wrote:

    Outlander is going to be amazing, twitter has been buzzing for months and the people involved have been so good about sharing some of the process with all of us. We can't wait for it to come out and look forward to seeing not only Jamie & Claire come to life, but Diana's whole vision which has kept us all reading her books for 20 years.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 8:54 PM, SandieMac wrote:

    So excited about Outlander! Loved Ron Moore's Battle Star Galactica and I'm sure, with Ron at the helm of Outlander it will be so spectacular! Can't wait to see this show!

  • Report this Comment On December 24, 2013, at 2:55 AM, BenignNuts wrote:

    Looking forward to Outlander! It's going to be amazing. Ron Moore and the cast and crew are doing everything they can to be faithful to the novels, while being true to the time periods as well. The cast and crew have been wonderful about keeping fans in the loop, providing special events where we can meet & greet as well as get sneak peeks into the process. The attention to detail is astounding. I can't wait for Outlander to start so I can get all of my friends hooked on it!!

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