Random TV Thoughts Regarding Midseason Scheduling, Fall ’13, & Broadcast Scheduling In General:

I’m really kind of surprised NBC hasn’t amended the their Tue and Thu schedules. Most specifically, I’m surprised they aren’t moving Hannibal to what is clearly a very open time slot (there are non of those anymore) on Tue at 10. It’s already garnering positive notices and its a pre sold title and I would think it would have an easier time to break out there. Instead its scheduled for Thu at 10 where both CBS and ABC have strong 10p options and NBC isn’t strong prior in the evening. (Even if they schedule a special The Voice Thu at 9p for a few weeks, it’s not a long-term option). Even on cable, Justified will be wrapping up in 3 weeks too, and the younger male that watches that would most likely tune into to Hannibal. They could slide down The Voice results to 9p leading into Hannibal. The Voice helped make Revolution a hit and there are two 2.0 shows on CBS and ABC Mon at 10. There are none on Tue at 10. It’s an open hole. They have 4 weeks left of their underperforming comedies and I guess they want to give them another shot after The Voice. But I think it would make better sense for them to slide them to 8p and when they’re done they can air an edited version of Monday’s The Voice at 8p leading into the results at 9p leading into Hannibal at 10p.

As I’ve been saying on Twitter, this coming DWTS season is a big test for ABC. It’s not impossible for the show to rebound. Many were writing off The Bachelor last year and it just had one of its better seasons in a while. If DWTS doesnt rebound, however, I think ABC should consider making The Bachelor the Mon Fall and Spring Shows. DWTS can return in Jan (and if its feasible, Summer). This provides DWTS with a rest and a chance for the audience to miss it. Obviously if DWTS rebounds this spring, ABC will likely want to leave all as is, but right now, The Bachelor currently is the stronger show 18-49 and in the young 18-34 demos and does very well with the high income households advertisers love. 

Its starting to seem to me, that ABC should slide Revenge down to 10p next fall and launch one of their strongest new dramas Sun at 9p in between OUAT and Revenge. It’s possible it could be Gothica which would be a good a fit with OUAT but maybe it might be SHIELD. Right now though I feel like ABC might want to use the latter show to possibly juice up Tuesday. But this is all way premature.

One of the things the The Following has going for it is the uninterrupted run of 15 eps. I’m sure FOX would love more at this point but that was the deal in getting Kevin Bacon to sign on and they have scheduled it very smartly. There’s a lot to be said for an uninterrupted run of a serialized show, There’s no doubt that sporadic scheduling has hurt OUAT, Revenge even Nashville on ABC. It will be interesting how Revolution returns and while I questioned taking off a hit show early in its run for 4 months, there’s no doubt a benefit of this move was uninterrupted scheduling. (As I outlined earlier this year when NBC set their midseason sked, I thought there was still a way to accomplish leaving the show on and run it in uninterrupted blocks, but I get NBCs decisions to only want it to air in tandem with The Voice this year).

This never affects CBS since they don’t really have any serialized dramas but      with The Olympics and Super Bowl occupying all of February next year, it’s really an opportunity for ABC to break up the scheduling of their Sunday night dramas. They can air 10 or so eps in the fall, then they can take off Jan (opposite those huge events) and February (they could air cheaper reality fare or even reruns of the dramas vs. The Olympics) and then can return uninterrupted from the week after the Oscars until season finales. Maybe a 2 hour opener or closer or 2 night event somewhere. But airing the shows uninterrupted in two big clumps would seem a better way to go than airing new episodes up against big events in Jan (like Golden Globes,  big NFL game and the Grammys which will now air Jan 27th).

ABC hasn’t released their season finale dates, but they have 8 eps of Nashville left. The show is scheduled to return March 27th and a consecutive run would finish the penultimate week of May sweeps. I don’t know if they are planning to run them consecutively but I think a block of 8 is way more beneficial than 4 eps, a rerun, and the last 4. Fans are beyond vocal about the stop/start scheduling and there is much benefit to announce the shows return in promos highlighting that 8 will run in a row. If that means delaying the shows return a week (to April 3rd) in order to finish on the final night of May sweeps or that means airing the season finale a week before, I think the consecutive run of 8 is the best thing they can do. After airing 2 eps in Feb the show took a week off for an Oscar special and returned to its lowest numbers yet. With both CBS and NBC offering strong 10p Wed options (and FXs The Americans enticing as well), it’s more than likely on the “off” week, some viewers got involved in one of those shows and didn’t come back, contributing to the new series low. Or maybe it’s just the confusion of not knowing when it’s new. Now it’s in the middle of another 3 week break. The show has a very devoted core base but they’re quite vocal with refrains of “why is there another break?” If I were ABC, I’d want to bombard the shows return in promos with promises of  “8 in a row – no reruns or breaks until the season finale”. 

Theres lots of talk of what cable does right and I do think many in the media minimize the good aspects of broadcast TV, but in this ever-changing medium one thing is clear that benefits cable. They run their shows uninterrupted. Yes they produce only 13 eps and have far fewer shows to juggle and they don’t have to provide 22 hours of programming a week, BUT: viewers know that when  their shows are on –  they’re on. Even mega hit, The Walking Dead, which could probably air originals now at 2am and still draw a crowd, was wisely scheduled by AMC, who split their 16 week season in two uninterrupted packs of 8 each. Broadcast TV, of which I defend regularly, can’t amend many things in their 39 week season, but they can change the way they schedule and I think one of the most important things for the health of the medium is for programmers to air as many eps consecutively as they can. Viewers have many more options these days and ratings are demonstrating they’re finding them. Sporadic scheduling of originals is sending them elsewhere and in many cases they’re not coming back, even for shows they like.

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One Response to Random TV Thoughts Regarding Midseason Scheduling, Fall ’13, & Broadcast Scheduling In General:

  1. Pingback: Upfront ’13 Thoughts: ABC | Random Musings from a BigTVfan

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