SCANDALs Shortened Order Should Force ABC To Make Other Midseason Moves:

ABCs midseason schedule seems to tread the same areas that haven’t worked for them recently. They seem intent on filling holes with ill-fitting shows. They have kept the post Modern Family slot as a revolving door of new comedies not staying there more than half a season, and lately that includes young skewing ones that just don’t match up with MF’s audience at all. I think it’s finally catching up and starting to hurt the anchor comedies on this night. This week both The Middle and Modern Family got numbers so low that they don’t usually see until late spring. ABC has stopped promoting the current occupants of the :30 slots on the night yet they continue to air them. Back In The Game‘s last scheduled ep is this coming Wednesday but Super Fun Night, at present time, is still scheduled to run thru Feb. (ABC will air Goldbergs/Trophy Wife reruns Wed at 8:30 for 3 weeks beginning 12/18).

Meanwhile their most promising new comedy The Goldbergs is scheduled to stay on Tuesday where it is getting no higher than a 1.7. There’s clearly an audience for the show (albeit a small one currently). Both times it followed an Agents of SHIELD rerun it built by .5 out of it. It’s also been getting a .9 increase in L7 these last few weeks. It’s a perfect fit with Modern Family. Both are big mainstream family comedies. I don’t see how ABC thinks its gonna grow Tue at 9, especially as it clearly shares some comedy audience with New Girl.

Now comes word that ABC has to cut 4 eps of their biggest drama Scandal. I wonder if this latest issue, while not planned, forces ABC to rearrange their midseason schedule to better service their hits and make their nights more cohesive and nurture their growing newbies.

SHIELD is an island on Tuesday. It really needs another male skewing show to follow it. There’s also an opportunity to air a reality show in Jan while The Voice isn’t on. (I assume NBC will be expanding The Biggest Loser to 2 hours in Jan but don’t know for sure). I’ve long suggested Shark Tank for Tue at 9p, yet ABC seems reticent to move it off Friday.  They also have a very interesting sounding reality show called The Quest that was scheduled to debut this January and now doesn’t have a premiere date. The Quest sounds like the kind of show that could reignite the reality genre. It feels like a reality version of Game Of Thrones. If network TV needs anything now it’s a show that can make some noise. It should also skew more male than ABCs typical reality show and could make a great tandem with SHIELD and help keep some of their viewers and maybe give more people an incentive to watch it live.It’s also likely to do better than the 1.1 ABC is getting at 9:30 now and could funnel more viewers into their new 10p dramas. I’m guessing this isn’t likely to happen since they would need time to promote it and Tue in late Jan has the State of Union address followed by the Olympics in Feb.

At the very least ABC could air 3 weeks of Shark Tank in Jan, and an extra ep of The Bachelor the first Tue in Feb (like they did last year). Then they might be inclined to bring back the DWTS results show in late March. The demo won’t be high but it will be higher than a 1.1, plus it will at least give them 10 million viewers and their new 10p dramas a much better lead in.

Whatever they do on Tue, it will enable them to move The Goldbergs to Wed at 9:30. This will present ABC with their most cohesive comedy lineup in a while: The Middle-Suburgatory-Modern Family-The Goldbergs. The :30 shows are shows that clearly have an audience and are liked and wouldn’t simply be hammock shows. It would also give The Goldbergs its best opportunity to grow. (Trophy Wife could air in the spring after Suburgatory or The Goldbergs completes their run).

I would assume that ABC wants Scandal on all 4 weeks of May sweeps and returning Feb 27th as planned only to break 4 weeks in the middle sounds like a really bad idea to me. They could instead promote the return of Scandal for March 20th which could be a clip show/catch up/behind the scenes special. Then March 27th they would roll out the final 8 eps uninterrupted thru their May finale. What does ABC do those 3 weeks from 2/27-3/20. That would be a good place for them to double up on eps of Mixology. I know broadcast networks are loathe to air comedies at 10, but Grey’s seems like a much more compatible audience for Mixology than MF anyway. It would have the Grey’s Anatomy winter return to lead into its premiere (likely a bigger than normal Grey’s audience) . The young women that watch Grey’s is the exact audience that likely would watch Mixology. If it bombs – it’s only 3 weeks. But it should also be enough time to display to ABC whether it’s a hit or not without hurting them if it’s the latter.

These moves should make each night stronger. They certainly make each night more cohesive. It also gives them the opportunity to grow their new comedies on a night where they won’t face other comedies and match up better audience wise with the existing hits than recent occupants.

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With SLEEPY HOLLOW Looking Strong, FOX Should Spread Out Their Hits:

Week 2 of Sleepy Hollow against mammoth premiere competition has solidified it as an early hit for FOX.   It’s FOXs biggest new hit in years and even ratings drops in future weeks (presuming they are not large) still will make this a major asset for them.  I don’t see why they wouldn’t order a full season even if that means 18 eps as opposed to 22. It seems silly for FOX to have their only 2 drama hits – SH and The Following –  share a Monday timeslot when they can both be used to bolster different nights.

FOXs schedule currently has Rake premiering on Thu in Jan in between fall and spring/summer 11 pod eps of Glee. FOX should move The Following to Thu at 9 in Jan. With CBS vacating drama in this time period it actually gives it a better shot to perform well. Plus with FOXs singing competitions down, it actually makes their Thu much stronger than Idol and unproven Rake.  (Rake can launch late spring/early summer or earlier to help another time period should it be needed, but likely the former).

Back to Monday. There is no need for FOX to move Bones to Fri (not that any of us thought it would happen. ) Fox can air Sleepy Hollow in two pods. A fall pod and a spring pod beginning in March and running uninterrupted through May (which can then lead into 24 in late spring/early Summer) .  Sleepy Hollow can take off Jan and Feb (especially with 2 Olympic weeks that month). Fox can launch Almost Human as planned in Nov to air in tandem with Sleepy Hollow for the remainder of its fall run. Then  in Jan, Bones can return to Mondays to air with the remainder of Almost Human’s eps and complete its 13 ep order right before the Olympics. The first Monday after the Olympics – March 4th, Sleepy Hollow will return and air uninterrupted until its May finale. (An added bonus with Bones being off in Nov and Dec, it should be able to air originals practically every weeks it’s on).

On another FOX related note, FOX might be able to remedy their X Factor issue simply. Remove the Thu results show and make a more action packed 2 hour Wed show including results (like DWTS). FOX could then air Masterchef Juniors Thu at 8. It’s currently one of the only few hours on the TV sked with no reality shows on any other net and the original MasterChef is currently one of FOXs highest rated reality shows.

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How Each Network’s Fall Lineup Can Be Stronger:

The big 4 have stepped it up and there is definitely a much better crop of pilots this year than last. I do however have some thoughts on how they could have better scheduled their fall lineups to their benefit. Interestingly enough, most of these thoughts are exactly the same ones I had when their skeds were announced before I had seen the pilots. After seeing all* of the pilots, I wasn’t struck with a thought of “oh, that’s why they did that etc”.  In most cases it made me think of how they could have made certain moves to strengthen their respective schedules.

I should note that each network has extremely smart and successful people in their scheduling departments who have been doing this for years and whom I have immense respect for. It’s more than possible that many of the decisions I am questioning will turn out rather successfully. But as someone who has studied and been a fan of the medium for many years, there are a few that made me wonder. Below are my thoughts for each of the big 4.

NBC: NBC has a very smart schedule, using their big hit The Voice to help launch what they and many others feel is their best drama The Blacklist. They smartly moved The Voice results to Tue 9p and are using it to make Chicago Fire a bigger hit in a timeslot that currently doesn’t have one. They smartly are starting over on Thu with new comedies that seem to be more mass appeal than their Thu options of late. My only big surprise at their schedule was scheduling Sean Saves the World as their Thu 9p anchor. I don’t usually think multi cams and single cams work together, but given the pedigree behind and in front of the camera, I thought it might make sense. After seeing the pilot I am rather surprised. It’s not a bad show and one could see how this could grow into a really good one. But with Victor Fresco and Sean Hayes at the helm, I guess I was expecting something a bit cleverer and less “sitcommy”. The situations feel very overly broad and forced. Pilots have to a lot of exposition to lay out and introducing of characters and I assume this will get much sharper with the 2nd ep. After watching About A Boy, I’m very surprised it wasn’t on NBCs Thu fall sked. I think it’s NBCs best comedy pilot which didn’t really surprise me since it comes from Jason Katims. This is Jason’s first comedy and is slightly less nuanced than his terrific dramas, but it’s no less heartfelt. It hues closely to the movie, but the first ep sets up great believable characters and a sweet funny show. Like his dramas, this show made me laugh and I was moved by the end of the ep. It would seem to be the show that could make David Walton break out. I think tonally it would fit much better than Sean with the other three new Thu comedies and especially Parenthood.  9p would have been a great place to place it OR they could have skedded Michael J. Fox at 9 and air About A Boy at 9:30 as a perfect lead to Jason’s own Parenthood. I think with Crazy Ones at 9p, CBS is more vulnerable than many want to acknowledge and NBC would be smart to take advantage of that. Michael J. Fox or About A Boy would seem a better option than Sean Saves The World. Sean could possibly be paired with NBCs other new multi cam, Undateable, at midseason. Either way, I think About A Boy should be part of NBCs Thu lineup.  (For what it’s worth I also enjoyed The Family Guide which About A Boy is currently scheduled to be paired with at midseason. They will make a nice compatible pair. The Family Guide would also have been a better fit with Welcome To The Family and MJ FOX than Sean Saves The World.)  As is, SSTW seems very incompatible with the rest of NBCs Thu lineup. I think when scheduling 3 new shows, it helps for them to have more in common stylistically and tone wise, so as to try to keep as many viewers as possible to sample all of them. Sean seems like it’s after a different audience than the other 2 Thu newbies. Welcome To the Family, About A Boy, MJ Fox, Parenthood are a perfect match together.

FOX: Fox has a much better crop of dramas and comedies this year – especially the comedies. I think Us and Them could really be something. It does a great job of making you laugh and be moved by the end of the ep (like About A Boy) and could also be the deserved breakout, finally, for Jason Ritter. Both he and Alexis Bledel have terrific chemistry and you’re really rooting for them by the end. The show also sets up both families really well. The fact that the pilot did this all in 22 minutes says a lot. Fox should make this show a priority for midseason (maybe after New Girl .or paired together with Surviving Jack, though Surviving Jack and Raising Hope would work together too).

I also think Fox might have been better off pairing Brooklyn Nine Nine and Enlisted on Tue. I would lament Fox’s decision to waste Bones and Enlisted (and Raising Hope on Fri) but I don’t expect those moves to actually happen. The thing I don’t understand about Fox’s fall sked is the one thing I questioned before they released it. With the downturn of singing shows not The Voice, especially Idol, giving 3 out of 4 hours of their Wed/Thu sked to X Factor still makes no sense to me. I think a show like Rake has a better shot getting sampled Wed at 8 – a slot that doesn’t have a huge hit – than the crowded area of Thu at 9 in midseason.  Frankly, one of their Mon sci-fi shows could air Wed at 8 OR even Bones could air there if their two sci-fi Mon dramas are together as planned for late fall. It seems a missed opportunity, especially when FOXs development was much stronger and they ordered more shows than recent years.

Drama wise I actually enjoyed Gang Related the most and think it could have paired really well on Mon with Bones. Don’t get why it’s not launching until summer.

I think should one of their Monday newbies work, it will stay there for the rest of the season and The Following will be on the move midseason, possibly to Thu at 9 where it could actually help FOX on that night.

CBS:  As I have suggested many times before their sked was announced, and right after, I don’t understand how The Big Bang Theory is not at 9p. It’s the biggest hit on broadcast TV and will only be bigger at 9. Instead, CBS is scheduling a risky (for them) new single cam, The Crazy Ones,  at 9 out of another new sitcom. Yes Robin Williams is a big movie star and Sarah Michelle Gellar is a big TV star, but so what. TV is littered with big star vehicles that failed (you know like Dennis Quaid on a very recent CBS show). The medium makes the stars, not the other way around. Plus this is a single cam which CBS has no success with recently. Some will say multi cam or single doesn’t matter if it’s funny. To an extent, that is true but why has CBS been so reticent to try one recently? They had a few in development last year that were getting positive buzz and they only greenlit Partners. CBS is the last huge broadcast network and they didn’t get there by accident. They know which shows – comedy and drama – mostly for work for them and they have largely hued to that over the last number of years. It’s not unfathomable for Crazy Ones to be a hit, but there’s no doubt CBSs placement of it is risky. Risks in many cases lead to big successes and CBS knows they have to expand beyond their overall formula to grow, but the show feels very unCBS and it certainly feels unlike any recent CBS hit sitcom. I think their placement of it in the anchor position following another new comedy makes it even riskier.

The Crazy Ones sticks out tremendously on CBSs Thu comedy block. It feels more like a David E. Kelley dramedy than the other 3 sitcoms, and not only because it’s single cam. It’s also strange to me that in Robin Williams’ return to network TV (or more specifically TV comedy)  for the first time in over 30 years, the two things that pop most are a young actor regularly asked to star in dramas (James Wolk) and a guest star who, unless I am mistaken, has no acting aspirations (Kelly Clarkson). I wouldn’t be shocked if she starts getting sitcom offers after this, though.

What I really don’t get about the Thu sked is they could just rearrange the same shows a bit more to their benefit: Two and A Half Men at 8 followed by The Millers. That show feels more CBS and has a terrific cast and a great creator in Greg Garcia. Margo Martindale shows that her exemplary acting chops aren’t limited to drama. I know this is being sold more as a Will Arnett vehicle but Margo steals the show. It would seem to be a perfect companion to 2.5 Men and a good lead into TBBT at 9 which could then be followed by Crazy Ones at 9:30. This sked would put both new comedies after established CBS hits, but also gives a bigger cushion for Crazy Ones. Thu 9p is a busy timeslot. It’s not impossible for the CBS audience to not totally embrace The Millers and then Crazy Ones will have a new unproven show leading into it AND it’s a tonal shift from The Millers. TBBT at 9p will garner ratings double any other option in the hour and could make CBS stronger at 10 with Elementary.

I actually think a CBS Thu lineup with the above sked and Mom at 9:30, not Crazy Ones, would likely result in a huge night for CBS and 2 new comedy hits, but with HIMYM leaving and no other big hits on Mon, it absolutely makes sense for CBS to try to launch Mom on Monday to add a big hit to that night. I think Mom is CBSs best new comedy as it really melds comedy and pathos while establishing real characters incredibly well. Anna Faris is a revelation in her more quieter, more painful moments, but the show has some laugh out loud moments as well. Allison Janney is great as always and her relationship/history with Anna’s character is established and completely believable in just a few scenes between the two of them. I feel like Chuck Lorre let this pilot breathe more than any of his other recent hits and really taps into life for a recovering addict, especially the pain. (Kudos to HIMYMs Pamela Fryman for great direction). The fact that it’s done as well in a multi cam is a testament to all involved behind and in front of the camera. The trailer didn’t do this show justice. A more impressive, fully developed multi cam pilot is hard to find recently.

I would never bet against CBS and it’s possible their current Thu sked will work out fine, but it’s also not impossible for their audience to drop every half hour once TBBT ends at 8:30 and in turn could help the NBC comedies (which seem a better fit for their respective network than Crazy Ones does) breakout.  Currently, once TBBT is over, CBS drops every half hour over the night with Elementary getting a 1.9/2.0 the last two weeks of the season (CBS was a 5.0 at 8p). If those new comedies that air 8:30-9:30 don’t perform, it’s not impossible for Elementary to be even more vulnerable against Scandal and NBCs strongest show there in years, Parenthood.

2.5 Men/The Millers/TBBT/Crazy Ones/Elementary helps CBS stay strong and mitigates the risk of the new shows in anchor positions. It gives the newbies their best chance to be sampled and grow an audience and eventually succeed. They’ll own 9p, and 10p will be stronger.

ABC: I saved the one I have the most suggestions for, for last.

I have spent the last few months writing how ABC should have flipped the order of The Bachelor and DWTS. The Bachelor in Fall/Spring and DWTS in Jan, so DWTS can have a rest and not face The Voice. That’s not gonna happen.  So I’ll move on to other things that I think are still in ABCs power to change:

Sunday: I do not get leaving Revenge at 9p. The show ended with a 1.7. I don’t think Betrayal is the kind of soap that can turn things around.  At this point it feels like another 666 Park Ave, or Red Widow. It’s well made and acted, but it’s dark and not noisy and not compelling enough to draw people in. Plus 666 had a 3.3 from Revenge leading into its premiere, Betrayal won’t. Revenge will be lucky to get a 2.0 now.

Unlike Revenge, I don’t understand at all why OUAT dropped this spring, but leaving this sked as is, is likely to bring ABC big year to year drops on Sunday. Why would they leave the sked as is? CBS leaving their underperforming Sun dramas in the same slots is a gift to ABC. Why aren’t they taking advantage of that? It’s especially curious as they have a really great show called Resurrection that’s currently scheduled to launch at midseason (I’m assuming Sunday after the Oscars). It’s a mystery but more importantly it’s an emotional drama. I don’t understand why this show isn’t airing Sunday at 9p in the fall. CBS isn’t changing their lineup. NBC has Football. This would be the perfect place and time for ABC to launch Resurrection. Putting it at 9 could help resuscitate the night. Revenge airing at 10 has a much better shot at growing with a relaunch than at 9. Resurrection could be a success for ABC and could also raise all the ships on the night with it. I know Paul Lee said he’s a big fan and that’s why he’s keeping it out of the fall glut, BUT it would seem to have a harder time launching in the spring for a number of reasons:

A) Have you seen what happens to broadcast ratings in the spring?

B) NBC is launching what I think is a very strong pilot with Believe also Sunday 9p in March. Unlike The Blackslist, this has emotional heft to it, in addition to mystery. It also appears to have new characters each week ala Touched by An Angel (or CBSs The Incredible Hulk from 30 years ago) which makes it easier for new people to jump in each week. It also has many similar themes to Resurrection and NBC has the Olympics as a huge promotional platform for it, just like ABC plans to use the Oscars. Why launch against another similar new show in the spring, (only likely to confuse viewers and dilute the message of your collective marketing, especially when both shows have similar themes) when you can have that audience (and marketing message) all to yourself while NBC is airing football?

C) The biggest obstacle would seem to be The Walking Dead but it doesn’t usually launch til mid October thus giving ABC a 2 week head start to get the show sampled, plus its last highest rated weeks air all March exactly when ABC would be launching Resurrection anyway, so fall would seem a much smarter place to launch.

Airing Resurrection Sun at 9 in the fall helps ABC give it the best opportunity to breakout and it also gives their Sunday shows a great opportunity to rebound. Leaving the Sun sked as is followed by Betrayal (a show they are selling as 13 weeks max, like they aren’t expecting it to exceed beyond that) is even more perplexing than airing DWTS in the fall. At least that show still pulls in 12 million viewers. The current Sunday sked will likely bring huge year to year drops and launching Resurrection in the spring comes with far more challenges. If ABC wasn’t going to promote a new Sunday drama in the fall, I might understand it more. But they will be spending money to promote Betrayal. Why not use those dollars to give one of your best new dramas its best shot at success? Sunday’s lineup should be OUAT/Resurrection/Revenge.

 (I even think Killer Women would be a much stronger Sunday option than Betrayal. Where Betrayal feels like a dour soap, Killer Women is a fun, more loud show, with BSG’s Tricia Helfer as a kick ass Texas Ranger, who plays the trumpet! It kind of feels like a more mainstream Justified. It’s more procedural but Tricia is terrific and it’s very nicely and visually directed by Lawrence Trilling. It has a great look to it. That show could sooner breakout Sunday at 10 this fall than Betrayal. I’m not generally a procedural fan and normally prefer soaps but in this case I think Killer Women is the show that could resonate more.)

Out of all the scheduling scenarios by the nets this fall, leaving Revenge at 9 followed by Betrayal is the one I honestly understand the least. It seems self-defeating.

Tuesday: While I get the logic of using SHIELD to launch The Goldbergs, I maintain that ABC should be airing Shark Tank Tue at 9 like I have been suggesting since last winter. It’s always risky launching en entire night of new shows, but unlike ’09 when ABC smartly did it with Wednesday, there is a big hit called The Voice on the night and this time they’re not launching 4 new family comedies, but two dramas and two comedies. It invites lots of opportunity for people to switch. I kind of wish ABC had moved Shark Tank to Tue this past Jan when there was little competition. It could have already been established there. Either way, it’s a great fit out of Shield. They are both shows that aim to be watched by the whole family (Shark Tank already is). Both shows would likely have a more male skew than a typical ABC show (Shark Tank already does).  Shield/Shark Tank/Lucky 7 is a perfect flow. The whole night is more male leaning than the typical ABC lineup. ABC could promote the entire New Tuesday heavily on Monday Night Football the night before. It also limits the risk in trying to launch 4 new disparate shows. It gives Lucky 7 a better shot to be sampled in what is shaping now to be a very tough slot for a newbie to make noise. As is, its competition is 2 broadcast hits moving to Tue at 10 and Sons of Anarchy on cable. With Shark Tank at 9 you know at least there will be an audience at 9:30 to at least give it a chance.  A new comedy at 9:30 could easily flop and should that happen, given what else is on, Lucky 7 is dead before it even premieres. (If Shark Tank did move to Tue, ABC could replace it on Fri with either Wife Swap, What Would You Do, another hour of 20/20, Secret Millionaire or even a Shark Tank rerun, though it would likely be smart not to overuse it. In the fall they could use Fri 9p to encore new comedies or Shield.)

Wednesday: I think ABC found a perfect bridge between The Middle and Modern Family with Back In the Game. I, however, don’t understand the placement of Super Fun Night after MF. I completely get ABCs decision to be in the Rebel Wilson business. They should want to be. I think SFN and Mixology would pair nicely together somewhere at midseason. (I think that show would have an easier time launching out of the fall glut). Over the last 4 years it’s been proven how shows with a younger skew and conceit (i.e. not a family comedy) don’t work after Modern Family. It’s a tonal shift. What really surprises me is that Paul Lee specifically said last year he wanted to find a family comedy for that slot which is why he scheduled The Neighbors there at ’12 upfronts and moved Happy Endings. That made lots of sense. This move would seem to violate that idea and there’s no evidence this show will buck that trend. In fact, How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life has proven this to be true. It’s had the best retention of out MF than any recent comedy has. Even as ABC has stopped promoting it (since they cancelled it), it has still done reasonably well. Last week it held 100 percent of a MF rerun lead with a 1.4 and almost all of its total viewers. I’m rather surprised ABC has cancelled this show (in addition to Body of Proof). I didn’t understand it when they did, but now I really think they should reconsider. The show has little buzz but it’s doing better in that slot than anything recent, plus it launched in the worst time of the year (after its first 2 weeks, it followed 2 weeks of MF reruns)  and with less promotion than any post MF has.

It also proves that a more traditional family comedy with familiar stars works best here. This is why I would schedule The Goldbergs after MF in the fall. With The Middle/Back In The Game/Modern Family/The Goldbergs, ABC has a very smart, perfectly matched comedy block.

They could possibly pair Trophy Wife with Suburgatory somewhere at midseason should they not be needed as replacements before.

* New CBS Thoughts added to this post Sunday 6/9/2013

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Snap CBS Fall Sked Judgement and How It Impacts Other Nets:

Here are some brief CBS thoughts and in their case I’d like to talk about how it impacts the other nets, because let’s face it, they are #1 and the last successful traditional broadcaster so their moves definitely have a big impact on the other big 3 nets.

I have been wondering out loud for the better part of a year and a half why CBS hasn’t done a 4 comedy lineup on Thu. In the last few weeks, just looking at the Thu overnights on Fri mornings it seemed clear to me that they absolutely must. They have a ratings behemoth in The Big Bang Theory at 8. Nothing on network TV comes close to it and yet from 9-11 they lose in the demo to ABC. Not even close in the demo and that’s with ABC getting a low 1.0 at 8p. So kudos to CBS for shaking things up on Thu.

I don’t quite comprehend why they’re not moving TBBT to 9p. Not only will this make that show even bigger and clearly the #1 9p show by a mile, but it could possibly help expose more people to Elementary, a show they clearly want to be a huge franchise and syndication opportunity for them. Instead they are leaving it at 8 and launching two new sitcoms from 8:30-9:30. The 9p show, Crazy Ones, while starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar is single cam, a genre they haven’t been able to make work as yet. Yes, it has stars in it, but in TV “the medium makes the stars”, not the other way around. There have been many a big star make the move to TV and it not work out (just ask Dennis Quaid whose CBS show just got cancelled after 21 eps). It’s more than likely Crazy Ones is hysterical and terrific, but it’s still a question mark, as is the great sounding The Millers. If I’m CBS. why would I want to give other nets the opportunity to make some ground after TBBT is over. Two and Half Men was getting lower numbers last year at 9p Monday than it is now on Thu. It is clearly being helped by airing after TBBT. Airing at 9:30 after a new show doesn’t guarantee that it will still be a mid 3.0 show, especially with hits on other nets.

I also think this schedule helps NBC tremendously. After TBBT ends at 8:30, NBC has three high-profile, mass appeal, new shows that will get ample promotional support. CBS airing two newbies from 8:30-9:30, no matter how good, is still a question mark. At the unveiling of their fall sked this morning, the esteemed Mr. Moonves said “I’m not quite sure people understand how big The Big Bang Theory is”. I do, Mr. Moonves, and my follow up would be why isn’t it on at 9. It’s so huge it would only do better at 9 and help your entire Thu sked. You could have done this:

8p- 2.5 Men

8:30 The Millers

9p TBBT

9:30 Crazy Ones

10p Elementary

All the same shows but scheduled to help the 8p and 10p shows get an extra piece of TBBT halo. This Monday HIMYM and 2BG bumped up to their best ratings in weeks. It was their season finales, but I’m sure the TBBT rerun at 8:30 didn’t hurt.

Let me break it down another way with the caveat that Crazy Ones will likely work but as always with TV, there’s no guarantee: With TBBT at 9p CBS kills at 9p. With Crazy Ones there, it’s still a question mark.  Crazy Ones would more than likely have a better shot at doing better out of TBBT at 9:30. Here’s why:

A) It’s still a new show and no amount of stars is ever a guarantee it becomes a hit AND it’s in their anchor position.

B) It’s single cam which CBS has no history of having a hit with recently.

C) It’s airing out of another new show at 8:30 (one that’s a multi cam, so tonal shift too!)

I think this Thu sked, while smart and what they needed to do, misses just a bit in terms of maximum impact it could have had. Now NBC with their comedy newbies have more than a fighting chance on Thu and a multi cam with Sean Hayes at 9p (very CBS) has a good shot against a new CBS single cam (jury’s still out if their audience will go for that).

TBBT at 9p would help Elementary grow more against a very strong Scandal (Last week Scandal beat Elementary 3.2-1.9).  Now it’s over at 8:30 and that possible halo is long gone.

Look, they’re CBS and in all likelihood Crazy Ones will be a hit and CBS will be up over year to year, but all I see when I look at the Thu sked is a big step in the right direction, but it could have been so much bigger. NBC has a smart Thu sked that could have at least one breakout comedy hit, maybe more. ABC scheduling Wonderland there as the only female skewing drama on the big 4, also looks like they made a great scheduling decision as well.

I commend CBS for moving PoI to Tue at 10 and as I suggested in Jan, they have a very cohesive Tue sked. I think NBC will benefit again here, as Chicago Fire was already a self-starter on Wed. Now it has The Voice and it’s technically the most traditional drama in the hour. It could pick up some CBS viewers. I definitely think that show will grow in year 2. I commend all three nets for finally attacking Tue. No one is sitting back.

I still wonder why CBS didn’t try to put a new show or stronger returning one Sun at 9, but with football overruns til 8p many weeks, they’ll likely be very strong on their one weaker night with regular shows. So they win anyway. They stand pat with their acclaimed The Good Wife and get nice ad rates. The CBS way, they win anyway. (It really  makes me wonder even more why ABC didn’t put Resurrection at 9 and Revenge at 10)

With CBS and NBC both having big ambitious shows Mon at 10, ABC does looks smart by leaving Castle there. This show is already winning Mon at 10 (Hawaii 5-0 was just moved to Fri since it was coming in 3rd on Monday)  and is the most traditional show here. New viewers are finding it on TNT. It’s not crazy to think some CBS viewers might migrate over to ABC at 10. It’s worth remembering that in the fall Revolution was handily beating Castle and by the end fo the season, Castle is winning despite NBC having a 2 point advantage at 9:30.

Overall, as usual, a smart CBS sked and one likely to be up over last year on a number of nights (Tue, Thu) but one that also makes me think they could have made it even stronger. As of now, when I see their sked I also see opportunities for other nets to make ground.

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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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Complete Upfront ’13 Thoughts On The Big 4:

The Upfronts start a week from tomorrow, although technically NBC will release their fall schedule next Sunday before officially unveiling it on Monday. All this week there will be lots of news on shows getting picked up and cancelled, though I expect lots to happen Thu and Friday when NBC and ABC will also pick up all their new shows. It’s been a few weeks since I offered my thoughts on each of the big 4 for next fall and some things have already changed and become more clear. Nevertheless, the major moves I have suggested for each net, I still feel strongly about.

CBS Upfront Thoughts: Their major move should be a 4 comedy block on Thu. I feel even stronger about this after the last two weeks’ ratings.

NBC Upfront Thoughts: I think they should put their 3 most promising NEW single cam comedies (including Michael J. Fox) on Thu and start over.

ABC Upfront Thoughts: They NEED to rest DWTS until Jan and The Bachelor should be on Monday in the fall. (I also think Shark Tank should be their Tue 9p anchor). 

FOX Upfront Thoughts: More than anything, they need to launch more new scripted hits this fall. X Factor occupying the bulk of Wed/Thu does NOT help them accomplish this.

Finally, if CBS does indeed schedule a 4 comedy block on Thu and moves The Big Bang Theory to 9p, How The Other 3 Nets should take advantage of 8p.

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CBSs Potential Move Of THE BIG BANG THEORY to 9p Thu Creates Opportunity For The Other Nets:

We’re 2 weeks away from the Upfronts and there are already some things I suggested in my network thoughts that likely won’t come to pass. (Hannibal likely won’t be Thu at 10p in the fall, for example. Too soon to tell if it will be renewed though). There are some things, however, I feel even stronger about. I can’t fathom why CBS wouldn’t expand their comedy block to 4 comedies on Thu and move The Big Bang Theory to 9p. I know I’ve been suggesting this since fall ’11, but It seems now would really be the time for CBS to strike. The Big Bang Theory is bigger than ever and would likely be even bigger at 9p and make their entire night stronger. It could also help them launch at least one, but possibly 2 new comedies, which they definitely need with How I Met Your Mother ending.

Just assessing the ratings, it’s obvious it would benefit them. Despite CBSs protests that Person Of Interest  is “TVs Fastest Growing Show”, its 18-49 same day ratings are virtually identical to a year ago and that is with The Big Bang Theory being much bigger and their 8p hour stronger overall, including its 8:30 lead in. Most weeks 9-year-old Grey’s Anatomy beats it and that’s without having a decent lead in. Grey’s virtually triples its 8p show while CBS goes from being #1 by many miles at 8p to being number 2 in the demo from 9-11 (TVs fastest growing show as far as I can tell is Scandal which grew almost a full point this week from a year ago 2.0-2.8) .

As I outlined in my CBS Thoughts, they could air TBBT at 9p with Two and A Half Men being their 8p leadoff and slot 2 new comedies at 8:30 and 9:30. I am guessing Elementary stays at 10p and they move PoI elsewhere (either Sunday at 9 or Monday at 10 with Beverly Hills Cop in the other slot). PoI seems like it would hold up better in same day numbers if moved then Elementary and will likely improve upon the numbers The Good Wife or Hawaii 5-0 was bringing in – so upgrade year to year. With TBBT likely to be at least 3 points higher at 9p than POI currently is, that could help bring more people to Elementary. So win, win, win.

While I think moving TBBT to 9p would make CBS much stronger on the night, it would definitely make their 8p less strong than it is now (They would trade a lower 8p for a stronger nightly average, including much higher 9p and likely bigger 10p, and possible new comedy hits) and that could create opportunities for other networks. As it is now, American Idol isn’t hurting other nets at 8p. The only real threat at 8p is TBBT. If it moved to 9p, well that opens a whole world for every other network to strike.

NBC: As I suggested in my NBC Thoughts, I still think NBC wants to keep their Thu comedy legacy intact and with no TBBT at 8p, that could potentially help them launch something new. I still maintain that NBC should launch 3 new comedies on this night with Michael J. Fox as their 9p anchor. To help that out maybe the first 3 weeks they air another round of Blind Auditions of The Voice at 8p which should help them drive people to MJ FOX at 9p. Then they can launch a new comedy at 8p (I’m still going with Craig Robinson into Parks & Rec).

FOX: Last week in my FOX Thoughts I suggested they move the performance show of X Factor to Thu, but should FOX decide to keep the sked the same (Wed/Thu), they should use 8p to launch a new show into the results at 9p. If Two and Half Men is on at 8 with a new comedy that’s less of a threat and FOX could potentially launch Rake here, or the 2 male skewing comedies Brooklyn 99 into Enlisted (which could potentially create a Mike Schur hour on 2 nets). Airing the results at 9 would be a good option against big hits on other nets, plus they would likely be the only reality in the hour.

ABC: I still think ABC will start out with reality (possibly something new) and a new strong reality show could stand out there, but the more I think about it wouldn’t be crazy for ABC to try scripted into their 2 big drama hits. Its worth noting that a year ago this week, (though deemed a huge flop by many),  Missing was still pulling close to 7 million viewers. Yes it was much older skewing, but 7 million at 8p in DST affected spring against two of TVs biggest hits is not too shabby and it likely drove a few people into Greys. While I think ABC was smart in putting big drama swings like Last Resort here (it was counterprogramming, no other drama etc.), maybe the lesson is the two Thursday ABC dramas are very female skewing and the big 8pm swings were too male leaning especially against TBBT and Thu night football. Maybe a female skewing drama could work well at 8p. I keep thinking Murder in Manhattan could be the kind of show that might work here. It’s a mother/daughter sleuth team, light procedural/family drama. Bones did very well here for years. There’s no drama currently (certainly no procedural) in this slot. Late last year, I suggested ABC put Body Of Proof here. It likely would have done what Missing did. 7 million and a low 1.0, but that is still better than the 3-4 million Wife Swap has been getting and it certainly commands bigger ad rates. Murder In Manhattan is very on brand for ABC and should TBBT be moved to 9p it could potentially be a strong option here. In my ABC Thoughts, I suggested they attack Tue with a new drama at 8 and 10 (possibly Murder In Manhattan there). With a new drama 9p Sunday (I’m still going with Gothica) that’s 3 dramas for the fall and I don’t see ABC launching 4, nor should they. It’s almost too bad Body of Proof isn’t stronger Tue at 10 (though I still think ABC should renew it for midseason or even Fri at 9 down the road, should they not go the comedy route), since they could launch MiM Thu at 8p.

Another potential idea for ABC is the Rebel Wilson comedy Super Fun Night into another younger skewing comedy like Mioxology. Rebel is a much-loved star in the making. If her comedy comes out great and TBBT is on at 9, ABC could potentially slot those female skewing comedies here, which would be counter to the more male skewing comedies on other nets and appeal to the audience watching the ABC female skewing Thu dramas. Of course lots of “ifs” now. Who knows how any of these new shows came out and that will dictate many of these decisions.

One last idea for ABC Thursday: I’m still maintaining ABC rest their Sun dramas for all of Jan and Feb so as not to waste them against all those big events, especially 3 Olympic Sundays. Then they can run them uninterrupted in fall and spring. There’s all this talk about the Once Upon A Time In Wonderland spinoff taking over for the mother show in between. ABC is not gonna waste the spinoff against those big events. My guess is that the Once spinoff is a potential midseason replacement and a good safety net. Should the new 9p Sunday show like Gothica fail, well then the Once spinoff is a perfect show to air all spring after the mother show. BUT it got me thinking that the Once Spinoff could potentially work really well Thu at 8p. A romantic fantasy filled show could lead well into the Thu dramas.

My gut says ABC still starts the season with reality as they might need to direct their promotional muscle to Tue night (I’m still going with Shield/Shark Tank/New drama) and a new Sunday drama and relaunching returning hits like Nashville (possibly on Mon Night) and a new Wednesday comedy . There’s just so much you can promote and not dilute your message, and they already have 2 strong dramas on Thu so new scripted shows are needed more elsewhere. But with CBS potentially moving TBBT to 9p it should make them think of seizing the opportunity as should all the other nets.

It’s also quite  possible that despite my insistence that CBS will do this, TBBT stays put at 8p next fall and all of this is moot. I’m not betting on it, but it’s certainly possible.

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