So last week I talked about how I expect FOX to have a great fall, with major gains vs. last fall – no small feat in today’s fragmented TV world. (so-fox-is-the-network-to-beat-this-fall-right). I’d just like to share some brief thoughts about the other 3 major nets.
CBS – As I have said before, CBS seems immune to any competition. Be it IDOL, the Oscars, major sporting events, holidays, CBS holds strong. They buck any kind of normal ratings trends. NCIS grows in its 8th year. I don’t think in the history of television a show has grown in its 8th season. It’s especially rare in the TV world these days where Live TV viewing gets smaller each year.
Obviously Two And A Half Men will be up majorly the first few weeks in comparison to last year. The real test will be a month into the season. On any other network I wouldn’t expect this show to be up year to year at the end of the season. On CBS? All bets are off. I think 2 Broke Girls is one of the better new comedies this season and it fits well on CBS Monday so I expect that to break out. Tuesday should be flat or up as I expect Unforgettable to at least slightly better what The Good Wife was doing. It’s more in the CBS wheelhouse. It’s like a female led The Mentalist. Wednesday, CSI will certainly boost what The Defenders was doing and especially the first week or two might even benefit from folks checking out Ted Danson. Thursday is the big CBS question mark. I know CBS keeps telling everyone how Person Of Interest is their highest testing pilot, but me thinks they doth protest too much. I assume they are somewhat concerned. It’s the first time in 10 years (since they became a Thursday playa) that their 9p anchor is a new show and all the bells, whistles and research and test scores don’t ever guarantee a hit. That being said, this is CBS, and I would not bet against them. It is basically a CBS procedural dressed up in a spiffy outfit and boasts the wonderful Michael Emerson, so it does have a good shot at breaking out. If it does, CBS should be thrilled as everything else on their sked is pretty solid. I personally think A Gifted Man is their best drama pilot and there is a precedent for that kind of show working on CBS Friday. The Good Wife might score a little lower than what Undercover Boss was in the demo last year, but in turn it will bring lots more in ad revenue and prestige so that’s a trade up for them on a different level. Plus who know, maybe it will explode on Sunday night? This is CBS. I would not rule it out. Basically, I expect CBS to be a strong #2 to FOX unless all their new shows bomb, which let’s face it, isn’t likely.
NBC – comes into this season with one thing that no other net possesses: A big hit from last year – that being The Voice which will definitely improve their Monday midseason. But in the fall, The Sing Off, will no doubt be an improvement over Chuck and The Event. So Monday should be in the plus column. Tuesdays should be stable (in the fall). Wednesday should be up as SVU will be on at 10 (vs 9p last fall). Harry’s Law will funnel more total (albeit older) viewers into it than Undercovers did last year. The comedies are a wild card. Up All Night premiered very strong but it had AGT in front of it and little in the way of competition.But the truth is, even if it falls to a 2.0 and holds there, that’s a win for NBC. I do think it should have no trouble bettering what Undercovers did, so I assume Wed will be up some. Thursdays should be up primarily because Prime Suspect should far exceed what The Apprentice was getting last fall. Finally, NBC this fall has the only thing that is growing on TV – the NFL. They will get numbers on Sunday night that no other net (unless X Factor gets Idol numbers, which is certainly possible) will get all week. Frankly I will be shocked if NBC is not up vs. last fall.
ABC – ABCs schedule vs. their sked last fall is immeasurably better. Monday, the combo of DWTS and Castle should continue to be a good tandem. Tuesdays should see an increase at 10. Body Of Proof last Spring became ABCs most watched show in that timeslot since NYPD BLUE. It’s a good fit with DWTS and should be up over Detroit 187 last season. The Tim Allen comedy should at least open. Where it ends up after that is a question mark. I don’t think Man Up will break out, especially after DWTS ends, but I will guess Tuesdays should do better than last Fall. Wednesday, ABC has a great new comedy at 8:30 Suburgatory and at 9:30 Happy Endings has become such a pleasure. I think ABCs comedy block is terrific start to finish. I just hope the new competition with X Factor doesn’t derail any momentum. (Unsolicited advice to ABC: You are running more promos for The Chew and Extreme Makeover:Home Edition than Suburgatory lately. You are running zero promos for Happy Endings, though there is a HE marathon on ABC Family tomorrow. I can’t imagine any primetime show not being more important to your bottom line than a daytime show. Certainly the financial investment is larger for the comedies and the need for them to do better would seem to be greater as well. EM:HE is starting its 9th season. It’s NOT gonna grow. Some of those promo slots going to both of these shows could certainly go to the 2 comedies I mentioned or for a promo highlighting the entire comedy block. You have a great comedy block start to finish. There is huge competition against it. Why not call attention to one of your assets? OK Rant Over.) Back to Wednesday. At 10p ABC has given the most promotion to Revenge. It makes sense. It’s an ABC show, right in their pocket. It’s been generating deserved buzz and it airs in a timeslot that’s been tough for them. I can’t imagine it won’t exceed the very low numbers of The Whole Truth last fall. This show has the potential to break out, but one never knows. Even if it doesn’t work, props to them for trying. Thursday, Charlie’s Angels should at least better what My Generation got last fall. It might even open strong but as many remakes have flopped before, it also has potential to drop thereafter, especially against big competition from FOX and CBS. At the very least, the 8p hour should be up vs last fall. Sunday, ABC is surrounding the final season of Desperate Housewives with 2 unique, fun shows – Once Upon A Time and Pan Am. Regardless of what these shows end up doing, I think ABC made the right moves here (vs last fall when they left this night intact). So… honestly ABC is a big question mark. If some of their new shows pop, they will no doubt be up. I do think they put the right pieces in place to potentially have some new breakout hits (which they didn’t do last fall). Last Fall they bet big at 10p on off brand procedurals like The Whole Truth and Detroit 1-8-7 instead of shows that fit the ABC brand. This fall they developed unique, female empowering shows (to quote them) that are in their wheelhouse.
One more thing regarding ABC: The one thing they don’t have that the other 3 nets do is the NFL. They don’t get a Super Bowl. They don’t get those big numbers every fall. I’m not well versed in sports negotiations so I won’t pretend I know enough to speculate, but rhere is an 8 game Thursday package going for bids soon. I think it would be in ABCs interest to bid on it and get it (maybe even get in the Super Bowl rotation as a result?). They would be able to run their Thursday shows virtually rerun free around that 8 week break. As I said before, the only thing growing on TV is the NFL. It just seems being the one major net out of the big 4 not having a share in it puts them at a major disadvantage. I know their parent company just paid a pretty penny to keep MNF on ESPN for some time and maybe they don’t want to shell out more cash or maybe they do and want to procure that package for ESPN. I honestly don’t know and probably shouldn’t speculate, lest I sound like an uniformed idiot, but it does seems like being the only major net with no NFL presence puts them at a disadvantage for ratings and promotion opportunities..