Snap Judgement on ABC Fall Sked:

I was going to wait til Thursday and offer my thoughts on all the nets fall schedules, but after seeing ABCs fall sked, I felt compelled to express some snap judgements. I am utterly shocked to see DWTS on in the fall, even reduced to just one night. In the last few months I have repeatedly suggested that ABC flip the schedules of their Monday night franchises. The Bachelor is currently in much better health than DWTS, coming off one of its best seasons in years. It is very strong with adults 18-34 especially with women 18-34 and ended its season pulling 9 million viewers. DWTS has trended down every installment of the last 2 years. Each of the last 4 seasons has been lower rated than the one before. Last week it got a 1.7 on Tuesday. It’s 8p hour last night was a 1.8 for a performance show! It’s regularly 4th in both Monday and Tuesday time periods. The Voice is obliterating it. It’s now even beating it in total viewers, which was DWTSs saving grace for a long time even as the demo eroded. Ratings patterns suggest that it will be even lower this fall than it’s currently low numbers. It gets no DVR boost. ABCs reaction to this was cutting it down to one night. But how does that help them? They will be 4th on Monday from 8-10 in the fall. It’s a white flag, a surrender, a free pass to their competitors who are launching ambitious new shows. By the end of its run this winter, The Bachelor was number 1 on Monday nights even beating the mighty CBS in total viewers and the demo. The Bachelor wouldn’t beat The Voice in the fall but it could still be a competitive number 2. DWTS will be 4th and lucky to crack a 2.0. (Body Of Proof was cancelled with numbers not that far off from DWTS in total viewers and demo, which makes it occupying 2 cycles during the season even more surprising).

I find this scheduling even more perplexing since ABC has an easy solution to help them and DWTS. DWTS could be off for 7 months and come back in January. Back in ’05 The Bachelor was suffering fatigue after running 3 editions almost all 9 months of the TV season and ABC rested it for 7 months and the show was resuscitated when it returned in Jan ’06. They should take a page from their own playbook here, especially since The Voice likely won’t be on in Jan and ABC won’t be directly competing with another performance show. The Bachelor is a younger skewing show but it’s also not a music/dance/performance show and has its own different audience. Opposite The Voice last winter it held up fine and that was for a weak edition of The Bachelor.

ABC doesn’t even have to order a different show or cancel a show. All they would be doing is basically rearranging the order of their Mon franchises to better their own ratings average and to elongate the lifespan of DWTS.

I’ve been suggesting for the better part of 6 months that Shark Tank should be used on Tue, a more viewed night for such a show that has grown every one of its 4 seasons. Even moving it to Thu at 8 would have made sense. ABCs fall sked has it staying on Friday. I would understand this more if ABCs schedule was rock solid the rest of the week. I have no doubt that The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife are more broad and mass appeal than Happy Endings/Don’t Trust The B were last year, but they are new and FOX is already airing comedies there (less broad and more niched shows, but comedies nonetheless). More importantly, The Voice is on at 9 and while I think Tue at 8 is the perfect spot for ABC to launch Shield, it’s not crazy for many of those people watching Shield to switch to The Voice at 9. It was one thing when ABC had 4 new comedies on Wed. They were all comedies. Shield going into brand new family based comedies is still a shift. If they were going into an established mass appeal hit comedy, fine. But new comedies vs. The Voice  seems very risky -too risky on a night they currently have no hits. SHIELD into Shark Tank into Lucky 7 has a perfect flow. The 8p and 9p shows are shows for the entire family from 8 to 88. Plus Shark Tank has a shot to grow even more (like it has every one of its 4 seasons) out of Shield. At the very least it’s a hit. Why is ABC more satisfied leaving a growing asset like Shark Tank on lower viewed and less competitive Friday than to use to their advantage together with Shield and build a whole new night?

Revenge got a 1.7 for their season finale this week. A show that began season 2 with a 3.3 dropped significantly. Both OUAT and Revenge are down and it would seem logical to slide Revenge down to 10 and put a really strong new drama at 9 to drive people to the night and possibly help both shows around it. Putting Betrayal there is just filling another hole like ABC did all this year and with Revenge down so much, the odds on it helping launch a new show seem low. I feel like OUAT into new drama Resurrection at 9p into Revenge at 10p could have been a very strong night, with Resurrection possibly bringing people to 9p and having a halo effect on the other two shows.

I am surprised that ABC is going with Super Fun Night after Modern Family. It seems like a tonal shift and when younger skewing comedies like Happy Endings aired there, it dropped too much. Super Fun Night and Mixology seem like they would make a perfect hour together somewhere on the ABC sked (possibly midseason) and The Goldbergs (or even Trophy Wife seem like a perfect match with Modern Family that could retain more of its audience)

Many of ABCs new shows look good and innovative and on brand while still trying new things and I applaud them for that, but the way some of them are scheduled seem like they have less of a chance breaking out. On the other side of the coin, ABC is relegating two strong reality shows in The Bachelor and Shark Tank to one edition the entire season (as opposed to 2 editions for lower rated DWTS) and lower viewed Friday nights, respectively. It seems counterproductive and in the case of DWTS, its complete surrender.

I think The OUAT:Wonderland spinoff actually makes sense for Thu at 8. It’s the first ABC Thu 8p drama in recent years that should serve the female audience of the other two strong Thu dramas. A scripted drama will garner far higher ad rates than any reality show and could possibly help Grey’s not have to self start at 9. There’s a flow. I recently suggested this as one of a few possibilities for Thu at 8, and I definitely understand the logic of ABC here. There won’t be any dramas in this timeslot and only CBS is really a threat, though if TBBT goes to 9, possibly somewhat less of one.

I think ABC does many things right and they take many big swings and they have more successes than the industry gives them credit for, but its the kinds of moves mentioned above (DWTS not resting and occupying Mon, ST staying put, Revenge staying at 9 etc.) where they step on their own foot that keeps them from ascending beyond 3rd or 4th place. They have the assets, there’s no reason to surrender. I don’t get it.

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