With the upfronts two months away, the nets are busy planning strategies for the upcoming fall season. I have a few thoughts on how the nets might reprogram certain nights for the fall. I assume as the upfronts draw closer I will likely update and add to these ideas:
A Possible move for THE BLACKLIST to Thu at 9p:
Bob Greenblatt has all but said NBC will likely use The Voice to launch a new drama next fall on Monday and that The Blacklist would likely move. I think it makes sense for NBC to move their hottest drama and one of TVs biggest hits overall (after L7) to the one night they need the most help. CBS wont be programming entertainment in the fall on Thu and even once their 6 week Football stint is over, they are very vulnerable at 9 currently (as is FOX). It would make sense for NBC to move The Blacklist to the anchor slot. Even though Grey’s is still strong, it’s not impossible for The Blacklist to do at least a 2.3 here. In Jan it regularly got that out of low rated reality and its L7 gains of 2.0 in the demo and almost 6 million regularly prove this show is a real hit with its own audience. Most of that audience will likely follow it to Thu and NBC can command high ad rates on TVs most lucrative night for the biggest drama on TV now.
With Sunday Night Football, The Voice Mon and Tue, Chicago Fire, SVU and growing new hit Chicago PD on Wed and The Blacklist on Thu, plus Grimm on Fri, NBC would have powerful assets and hits every night of the week. It will enable them to launch their best new drama Mon at 10, possibly launch something new Wed at 8 and create a new night on Thu with a monster hit at 9.
A New Strategy for ABC Thu 8p:
With The Big Bang Theory off the CBS sked for the first 6 weeks of the fall season, in favor of football, there’s huge opportunity for the other 3 nets to try to get something going Thu at 8. Lets not forget that while NBC has football on Sunday night and ESPN has Monday Night Football, huge (male skewing) shows like The Walking Dead and The Blacklist have flourished against it. Plus the Thursday games that have aired on the NFL network thus far have been much lower rated than the games earlier in the week. In a way, it’s a huge gift that the other nets will be facing Football Thu at 8 rather than TBBT and there’s ample opportunity that I expect each network will attempt to seize.
ABC has owned the last 2 hours of Thu for the last 2 seasons and their biggest obstacle has been the 8p hour. They have literally tried almost every genre – reality, male skewing drama, female skewing drama. Part of me thinks it might be the right time to move Shark Tank to the 8p slot. The show in its 5th season is still growing and currently dominating Friday. On a more viewed night like Thu, and without The Big Bang Theory there for 6 weeks, it’s certainly possible to see it 1) hit bigger heights 2) attract even more new viewers who weren’t even aware of its existence on Thu and 3) solve a huge problem slot for ABC. It’s not impossible to see that with a stronger 8p the other 2 hours grow as well and ABC be a dominant force for all 3 hours on Thu. Plus when TBBT returns to Thu in Nov, ABC will have established ST there and they will be a strong num 2 at 8 (though it’s certainly possible for CBS to move TBBT to 9p upon its return).
However, increasingly, part of me thinks ABC might go another way: They have 4 very interesting sounding multi camera projects in development. Outside of CBS, no other network has really had one pop big in recent memory despite CBSs success with the genre. With TBBT vacating Thu temporarily, ABC might want to try to establish a couple of multi cams in a timeslot people are used to seeing them. I’m sure ABC already sees huge potential with the Kevin Hart comedy based on his life (that he will recur as a supporting character beginning with the pilot). I could see that being paired with the Cristela Alonzo comedy. ABC has had much success in the past with semi autobiographical comedies starring and created by standups (like Cristela). The Kevin Hart comedy will likely get sampled at least once, wherever ABC puts it. While TBBT is off, Thu at 8 would be a great place to park it and it would give ABC 6 weeks to establish 2 new diverse, multi camera, comedies on a night other than Friday. (I could even see them picking up 3 multi cams with possibly The Winklers following LMS on Friday or maybe even on a more high profile night like Tue or Wed).
At this point either strategy makes sense to me and while I have long advocated ABC move Shark Tank to a more viewed night, assuming both comedies come out well, ABC might be viewing the latter option as a better way to go. Shark Tank could stay dominating Fri and they could possibly develop some big multi camera comedy hits and fix a troubled slot.
SURVIVOR to Sun:
Survivor is the oldest reality show on the air and it is still one of the strongest. It’s currently even dwarfing American Idol head to head. CBS is developing another NCIS spinoff this season and this one feels like it has a better shot to be picked up, especially with Mark Harmon’s involvement.
CBS will likely want to give it the best shot to succeed and put NCIS:New Orleans in the hammock between the NCIS mothership and their big new success story of Person Of Interest at 10. NCIS:LA will have had 5 seasons behind NCIS and it should be able to do the numbers Survivor currently gets Wed at 8. Plus, Criminal Minds has had some of their biggest audience numbers this season when following another drama (or a CM rerun at 8). This would free CBS to move Survivor to Sun where it could help them in a few ways, but mostly in building up their current Sunday ratings average.
It would certainly better the numbers The Amazing Race is currently getting. Right now Survivor is getting a 2.4 while TAR is getting just under a 2.0. TAR, also one of TVs oldest reality series, is still getting numbers any network would want. But what if CBS slotted Survivor in the TAR slot for Fall and Spring and used TAR as a relief in Jan, OR it would enable them to use TAR in Jan to plug a hole on another night. CBS could also air the second TAR edition in the summer where it might get even get bigger numbers against lesser competition and extend its life like ABC did a number of years ago using The Bachelor in Jan and The Bachelorette in the summer.
Another plus for CBS moving Survivor to Sun. It will get same day NFL spots and they’re a good match together. The two Survivor premieres that launched out of the Super Bowl were among the biggest post Super Bowl audiences in recent history.
Perhaps the biggest plus for CBS moving Survivor to Sun would be that they could produce 90 min episodes in the fall. With CBS not beginning primetime most weeks until at least 7:30, it would enable them to air Survivor 8:30-10:00p and then just schedule a drama (perhaps a NEW male skewing drama like Vince Gilligan’s Battle Creek to take advantage of the NFL and Survivor audience and those that just finished watching The Walking Dead on AMC). This will help CBS stay on the grid (give or take a few minutes-it’s never gonna be perfect) on the east coast and most especially – be much stronger ratings wise on an important night.