While Vegas doesn't have strong competition at 10p on broadcast TV, a lot of its primary audience is possibly watching Sons Of Anarchy, which in all likeliness will still lead all the nets at 10 in the demo in future weeks. Still, Vegas is a better fit with the NCIS twins than Unforgettable was and will likely get strong pilot sampling. But it's also not remotely a sure thing, as period pieces haven't proven themselves to be huge ratings grabbers (even Mad Men is only getting a 1.0 after 5 seasons on a network that can garner close to a 4.0 with The Walking Dead). W hat it does have in its favor is that it is more of a procedural/case of the week than most people probably realize or expect (albeit, one set in the 60s) and fits in with the other CBS dramas. It also boasts two big stars in Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis and that should be enough to get it sampled. After last night, it's fairly certain there's no such thing as a sure thing, even on the mighty CBS, and this is more of a leap mostly because of the era it's set in. After seeing the pilot, I do totally understand why CBS is airing it at 10 instead of 9p. It faces far less competition at 10 and should it not work, it won't hurt their night at all (Throw in an NCIS rerun at 10 in worst case scenario and they're fine). I do think, that like Pan Am, this should be decently sampled at least on week 1.
The Neighbors is a gamble for ABC on Wed not because many critics are crucifying it, but mostly because it’s broader than the other more sophisticated Wednesday comedies. (There have been many reviled shows that have flourished, plus comedies tend to get better after their pilot and I do think ep 2 of The Neighbors is better and adds more heart that works. I also thought there were parts of the pilot that worked too, but I digress). ABC smartly moved it out of its planned 9:30 slot into the more family friendly 8:30 slot where it’s better suited. As I previously mentioned, I think the on air campaign might have done it a bigger disservice in selling mostly the sophomoric aspects of it (https://bigtvfan.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/thoughts-on-billboards-on-air-marketing-for-the-upcoming-tv-season/). Still it’s getting the prime post Modern Family slot for its premiere. I honestly have no idea what to expect. The 10p hour doesn’t really get cooking for ABC until the October 10th debut of Nashville and tomorrow night there’s a Revenge season 1 catchup special that should do okay (the last recap in April got a 1.6) but the season premiere of CSI and part 2 of SVU’s 2 hour opener airing at 10p will likely draw more viewers. So without any strong 10p show tomorrow night, there is always the possibility that people will bail after MF. But even if people stick around and sample The Neighbors, its true potential won’t be revealed until next Wednesday when it airs in its post The Middle spot at 8:30 (unless it completely tanks tomorrow and has viewers leaving in droves at 9:45, in which case its DOA). I think if it builds on The Middle, it should be fine. If it takes the path of Better With You and drops, it will be pretty clear that this show won’t make it. All through last fall Suburgatory built on its The Middle lead (as it should, as HUT levels rise) and I think if The Neighbors doesn’t at least hold onto The Middle’s lead, ABC won’t stick with it long. While there’s the potential for it do well at 8:30 and it’s not impossible for it to be a hit, if it doesn’t perform well enough early, ABC likely won’t stick with a critically reviled show that is a bit left of center from its critically acclaimed Wednesday block, especially one that leads into its most important show. Like CBS with Vegas, ABC already minimizes the damage a failed Wed comedy can do by airing it 8:30 instead of 9:30. (For the short-term The Middle or Modern Family reruns would suffice and in January they can plug in How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life at 8:30). I will say this: People are assuming The Neighbors is gonna flop hard. That’s not inconceivable, but neither is the possibility of it working.
Ridiculously Early Programming Suggestion:
Yes Revolution only has aired twice but its certain that NBC will give it a back 9, oh any minute. The last show to get a 3.4 in its second week was Hawaii 5-0 two years ago and the last drama to get a 3.4 or higher in its first week on NBC was Bionic Woman 5 years ago. It trounced both ABC and NBC at 10 last night, something Smash couldn’t do when The Voice was producing larger results. Yes Sci-fi shows can go off the rails and fall apart and the audience can leave, but it declined very little (4.1-3.5) in its second week. For perspective, Castle is in year 5 and it didn’t get a 3.5 its second week and its DWTS lead in was getting 5’s then (higher than The Voice currently does). That decline would look good for a drama at 8, let alone one in the 10p hour which barely produces 3.0 numbers at all anymore. The fact that it was almost a point and a half ahead of the #2 show in the hour looks even more impressive, especially considering it was up against premieres which usually do better than subsequent episodes. At this very early point, it does look like NBC has a strong tandem to keep them #1 on Mondays for the near future.
Since Revolution is likely staying Monday at 10 for the duration, I think Thursday at 10 might be a great spot for Smash come January. Smash wasn’t breaking a 2.0 for its last month on the air behind The Voice, but the great thing about Thu at 10 is that with Rock Center airing at 10, there’s a very low bar to improve on. A 1.8 and 6 million at 10 will be a huge improvement for NBC. Plus with Smash’s high income viewers you know NBC will be able to charge more for spots than they currently do. NBC tried 3 new dramas here in the last year and they all flopped. With low rated comedy leads, a new drama here isn’t a great idea. But an existing one with a fan base that will be an improvement on Rock Center feels like an upgrade. It also feels more in line with NBCs high-profile Thu at 10p dramas in the past. Plus, from a programming flow perspective, it will segue nicely out of comedies. It’s also a much lighter drama than the more serious ones airing on the other nets. Also, who knows maybe Jennifer Hudson’s presence and better scripts will bump it up a tenth or two in the ratings.