ABC released their Midseason schedule yesterday which mostly (not completely) outlines their plans through May. I think they made one strong move but I had questions regarding a number of other things.
The Smart Move: Kudos to ABC for finally using Greys to try to grow A Million Little Things. Launching new shows at 10p is already a hinderence, especially with a lower 9:30 lead in. AMLT has been consistent at 10p and grows big L3/L7. Greys is a perfect tonal and demo match for it. Greys is also far and away still ABCs biggest hit and one of the biggest shows still on TV so it makes sense to use it on new shows, or in this case a fairly new one that can now air at an earlier hour and have a bigger and more compatible lead in to help try to grow it. I don’t know the financials involved but the weekend before it returns, (Jan 12/13), ABC should try to run all 10 eps in a marathon on Freeform to court new viewers who have never seen it before.
That being said, I don’t get launching Whiskey Cavalier in the same slot following Single Parents. Even with a big Oscar campaign, it now faces the same challenge as AMLT. By launching late Feb, WC will also have to air after reruns in March and April. Match Game will actually follow more originals. That’s seems a waste and while a 10p slot and a low lead in is hard enough for a new show, reruns as a lead in make it even tougher.
What is most perplexing, to me, is using American Idol to lead into Shark Tank. So ABCs 3 favorite new dramas (The Rookie, A Million Little Things and now Whiskey Cavalier will have launched/is launching out of their weaker 9:30 comedies, while Sunday’s actual good Idol lead is being used on a 10 year old reality show? NBC launched two big dramas this fall out of their highest rated shows The Voice and This is Us. CBS launched FBI out of their biggest drama NCIS. One of the perks of paying all that money to get Idol is the lead in it provides. I can’t see NBC using The Voice lead in on an existing reality show.
Additionally, Sunday is the rare night that there is no strong CBS/NBC drama at 10. CBS airs Madam Secretary which is their lowest 10p performer and while NBC hasn’t officially revealed their spring Sunday plans, in May, it was scheduled to be season 2 of Good Girls which did OK in season 1 but was hardly a smash. This would seem an ideal place to schedule “Whiskey Cavalier”. While ABC scheduled its 2 new fall dramas with weak lead ins and strong competition from both NBC and CBS dramas. here both problems are potentially alleviated. Whiskey Cavalier Sunday at 10 would actually have a big mainstream hit of Idol as a lead in and the drama competition isn’t as strong.
Instead they are launching Whiskey behind Single Parents and as mentioned above will have to follow many weeks of comedy reruns in March and April, as opposed to all original Idol on Sundays. I fail to understand this decision. (I actually wonder if NBC (who has three midseason dramas on deck) looks at Shark Tank and Madam Secretary and sees the opportunity to launch either The Enemy Within or The InBetween there and move “Good Girls” to another slot or summer).
I’d also maintain this scheduling does Shark Tank a disservice. Shark Tank is NOT a 10p show. It has never done as well when scheduled there. ABC themselves has touted how ST is one of their most co-viewed shows between parents and kids. So why schedule a show like that at 10? It’s actually time for Shark Tank to move back to Friday where it aired for 8 of its 10 years and where it would still fit with the TGIF motif that ABC has returned to the night. Starting mid February the 3 competing networks are all airing older skewing dramas. FOX has the new Proven Innocent while CBS has perennial Hawaii 5-0 and NBC The Blacklist. That would be the ideal time to move Shark Tank back to Friday where it would follow family comedies as it has when it was most successful. It would have the alternative/reality audience all to itself and would be a chance for ABC to fix their once mighty Friday night. In addition to not using the Idol lead in on a new drama, by scheduling Shark Tank after it, it hinders that show’s full potential.
Finally, I think it’s unfortunate that ABC is dumping Grand Hotel in summer. It basically communicates that they have little faith in it or don’t like it or both. Even 5 years ago ABCs drama brand was very strong and it consisted of many soaps or soap leaning shows like Revenge, Scandal, Nashville etc. They all had strong women as leads. Grand Hotel is now a rare soap on ABCs current schedule and it would’ve been nice to see it get a shot. I can’t imagine it couldn’t do as well as Match Game (which was getting .5-.7 last Winter). More importantly it’s the rare ABC new show this year with non white leads. For a network that recently championed inclusivity, it’s rather unfortunate it’s not getting a shot to air during the regular season.