With the rise of original dramas on TV due to cable, there’s nary a time slot without a major log jam. Sunday alone, is a DVR nightmare with strong options on HBO, AMC, Showtime, ABC, CBS and even now PBS. While that’s the night with the most options, there really isn’t a 10p slot that’s not filled with many strong options… Except Tue 10p.
Even the cable options are slim: FX just wrapped up Justified, which, critical acclaim aside, only averaged a .9 most weeks. Southland on TNT usually rated lower and that’s done too. There’s currently no USA drama in that slot.
Yet even with cable sitting this night out for original drama, all the broadcast networks have some of their most lower rated options of the entire week: CBS’s Unforgettable is underperforming for a CBS drama and almost surely won’t be renewed. NBC finally has a hit on Tues with The Voice Results show which they promptly wasted the lead on Fashion Star. What’s even more perplexing is they didn’t even afford their most critically acclaimed drama (and highest rated one in the demo), Parenthood, a full season order of 22 episodes, instead capping it at 18. A 3.5 lead in certainly could have exposed that show to a few more people. ABC has made use of the DWTS results by airing the final 3 eps of Body Of Proof and giving that show one more shot and BoP certainly made their case for some kind of renewal. I assume Private Practice will get a similar 2.0 especially against weaker competition (Unforgettable is a rerun the next 2 weeks) but since it skews younger, I’d be surprised if it gets the 10 plus million BoP was getting.
All of this goes to substantiate that what is missing here is a strong drama to take advantage of what is a big programming hole, a rarity anywhere else on the TV schedule. (It makes me wonder what Missing on ABC might have done here since it’s getting no less than 7 plus million as a self-starter against TVs top 2 shows Thu at 8p, not to mention at the daylight savings time depressed 8p hour. I do understand why ABC tried to use it to plug that Thu 8p hole, though). This all leads me to think about next season and how the big 3 surely will attempt to attack this hour. (It seems it’s either feast or famine in television.) Here’s me suggesting some options:
CBS – CBS has a very potent weapon Tue at 8p in NCIS. It’s a 9 year old show with the most viewers of any show on TV plus one of the highest rated in the demo. I suspect they have kept spinoff NCIS:LA at 9p for 3 years partly because it makes a strong ratings tandem but probably mostly because they were concerned how the spinoff might perform away from its parent. CBS is in the rare position of being strong on every night and therefore, I believe, sliding NCIS: LA down to 10p accomplishes a few things. It gives them a stronger 10p option and the show doesn’t stray too far from its current slot. It also creates this strong NCIS male skewing sandwich that enables them to put their strongest male skewing NEW drama at 9p to take advantage of that mammoth NCIS lead in. On paper it seems 9p would be the perfect slot for the RALPH LAMB project which boasts an all star cast of testosterone in Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis and Jason O Mara. It’s become increasingly hard to get a new drama to get more than a mid 2.0 at 10p. Airing this at 9 enables it to take advantage of the NCIS lead at an hour with more people watching live TV and then lead into NCIS:LA at 10, which will surely boost their current 10p average.
NBC – it’s hard to guess exactly what NBC will do here because if The Voice follows the current pattern, the results show only airs for last 6 weeks. I imagine NBC could possibly just air another hour of Voice auditions for many weeks, but I’m honestly not sure. I do think they will use the post Voice slot in the fall for a new drama, or at the very least, Parenthood.
ABC – could possibly put one of their best new dramas here and potentially try to rejuvenate a timeslot like they did this year with Revenge. Last year at this time, I was suggesting Castle move to Wed and ABC put one of their best new drama options after Mon’s DWTS. They didn’t do that and what they did worked great for both nights. Similarly this year, I’m thinking that Castle might make the move to Tue at 10 which finally shores up that timeslot and lets ABC air a new drama Mon at 10*. The one wrinkle here is unlike last year when only Hawaii 5-0 was the other Mon 10p hit, NBC is now in the game too. With The Voice on Monday, either Smash will return in the fall or another new drama will air there out a of a huge lead in (in which case they bring Smash back for the Winter run of The Voice) but either way it might be harder for ABC to attempt to launch a new drama here than it was last fall. If Castle stays on Monday, while on one hand it might feel like they’re not using DWTS to their full advantage, on the other hand it makes some sense stability wise when it’s the one night they have competition from both nets at 10. I do think for Tues next fall it’s either a new drama or Castle here, unless of course Private Practice does great on Tuesday in which case it likely stays there. To be reexamined in the coming weeks.
* (Another option for Castle might be Thu 8p, more on that another time).