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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Upfront ’13 Thoughts – FOX:

When attempting to assess the big 4s possible fall schedules the last few years, FOX was the relatively easy one. With fewer hours to fill than other nets and 3 of them (over two nights) going to X Factor/Idol, plus an animated Sunday sked not likely be tampered much with, it was easier to plot the hits and guess which likely new shows would fill the empty slots. This year Fox was the hardest for me.  Over the last two seasons Fox has essentially launched one comedy hit, New Girl and one drama hit The Following. In that same period of time they said goodbye to one of their biggest hits ever, House, and have seen Idol become incredibly mortal this season.

FOXs highest rated same day rating for any show now is the low 3’s Idol has been getting. All their other hits are in the low 2s (Family Guy is getting a 2.5, 2.6 generally). Now some of them get nice DVR gains, but despite FOXs insistence on targeting the young 18-34 demo, they must be in search of a show that will get them 4’s like Modern Family or 5s like The Big Bang Theory and The Voice. Hell they’d be thrilled with a high 3. I think Fox, even more than NBC, heads into fall in a somewhat concerning place. They really don’t have many huge hits and are in dire need of new ones. More concerning is the downtrend of Idol these last few months, considering that X Factor is a weaker version of that show creatively and ratings wise. If Idol got a 3.0 for a results show on Thu (with TBBT in reruns and weaker competition from the other nets) realistically X Factor is likely to be significantly lower the same point in its season (possibly a 2.0 or lower).

All this makes putting X Factor in the Idol time periods and slotting a few new shows on their sked even more difficult. I can’t imagine FOX is satisfied with the prospect of that either. They want to win and I’m sure they will be doing all they can to ensure they launch some new hits. Truthfully, I bet FOX would prefer just to focus all their energy on Idol at this point. Idol’s strength for 12 years was due to airing only Jan-May. Fox was very smart in how they showed restraint and it bettered the show and their network in the long run. NBC was also very smart in beating X to the punch with a much better singing show that is on fire now in the ratings but also is superior production wise. The Voice panel all dig each other and Nigel Lythgoe has even alluded to that being a noticeable difference that favors the rival show. X Factor is the weakest music competition of the 3 both creatively and in the ratings and it feels utterly redundant at this point. While Idol and The Voice can co-exist at the same time, I’m sure FOX feels that X Factor at this point is just adding another singing competition to muddy the waters and by its mere existence, it makes Idol less special. If X was getting mid 3’s like 2 years ago, they’d be thrilled, but that wasn’t the case this season and its likely to be lower next season. I assume this is X Factor’s last chance to turn things around.

FOX is preparing a 3rd season of the X Factor and I think they’ll be smart in scheduling it. There has to be a happy medium for FOX. They need new hits. With X Factor on their schedule most of Wed and Thu that makes that even more difficult.  Fox has another issue in that their one new drama hit is only producing 15 eps a season. If they had 22 eps of The Following, I’d immediately suggest FOX split up Bones and The Following. The latter has shown that it has its own audience. Quite simply, it’s a hit. When Bones is in reruns, The Following produces the same numbers even with Bones getting a low 1. It doesn’t need a lead in. Fox would be better served splitting them up and launching new dramas around them. If The Following had 22 eps, I’d suggest air a new drama Monday at 8 into The Following and move Bones to Wed at 8 and launch a new show out of that. Alas, FOX has only 15 eps.

I contemplated FOX splitting up the season and starting The Following in the fall with 7 eps and then returning after the Olympics in March with the final 8. While that is a possibility, it might be hard for FOX to launch a new show in November on Monday opposite The Voice and then head into winter/holiday doldrums. Plus, taking 4 months off in the middle of the season hasn’t done wonders for Revolution and that has a 5.0 lead in. I think Fox is smart running it 15 weeks in a row and I assume they’ll follow through similarly next season (though I gather they wont run new eps vs The Olympics and their season will end 2 weeks later in sweeps). Plus if FOX is lucky enough to launch a new Monday hit next fall, maybe they can move The Following to another night by the time the show comes back. (Fox might also opt to launch The Following right after the Olympics and take a page out of the 24 handbook and launch with a 4 hour/2 night premiere and make some noise and catch up the weeks they missed if they launched in Jan. But I’m way ahead of myself and that’s only an option if they are fortunate enough to launch new hits in the fall. If not. I’m sure they’ll be ready to bring it back mid Jan like this year).

(Another crazy idea is for FOX use to Sunday football overruns to launch X Factor for a few weeks, but why delay animated comedies which are likely to do better. Wouldn’t be shocked if they used Football to help it out a bit, though).

So FOX needs new hits and I think they are going to try to make a schedule that enables them to launch new ones. I think FOX should move X Factor to Thu/Fri. Results show on Fri?? Yes. If X was producing numbers like 2 years ago that would be foolish. But it wasn’t this year and it likely won’t next and Wed at 8p is not a huge hour on the other networks and it would be a prime spot for FOX to try to launch a new show. With TBBT possibly on the move to 9p next year, FOX could have the performance show of X Factor for 2 hours on Thu and if CBS isn’t as strong at 8, they could possibly hook some viewers early in the evening. I contemplated FOX just cutting X Factor to an hour on Wed and Thu and launching new hits out of it. It’s an option, I guess. It’s just that 9p is competitive on both nights and 8p much less on Wed. If they launched a new hit on Wed at 8 and it flopped it might be hard to draw viewers into X Factor at 9. This way FOX kind of gets the best of both worlds. They get a 2 hour production show on Thu. A results show on Fri night is not the worst prospect for a show. This TV season has proven that viewers will show up on Fri for shows they like (Shark Tank) and this would be the only live show there. Most importantly it frees up Wed to try to launch something new. Another plus to moving X Factor to Thu/Fri is it offers up a day respite from signing competitions and separates X from The Voice a tad.

I think FOX will have at least an hour or at least one hit every night in the fall: Mon – Bones, Tue – New Girl, Thu and Fri X Factor and another hit on Wed as well. Read on for that.

So Monday FOX starts off with Bones and then launches into one of their best new dramas. With The Voice huge, and CBS with their comedy block, I still think FOX should stick with drama. It’s the best counterprogramming to everything else. Some are suggesting that FOX put the Greg Kinnear dramedy, Rake here since it’s also capped at 15 eps and it could share a slot with The Following. I think FOX should put a straight ahead drama with darker elements here since it contrasts with everything else in the hour. Boomerang with its stellar leads in Felicity Huffman and Anthony Lapaglia sounds like it could possibly make some noise here. Gang Related is also a possibility. Fox has always tried Sci Fi and the JJ Abrams produced Human sounds intriguing. If it’s strong it could fit here. Sci FI dramas do have incredibly loyal audiences, albeit they are sometimes too small and cult. FOX knows that all too well. That might be a better midseason option for FOX.

Monday: Bones into Boomerang or Gang Related. Should the new 9p drama work, FOX should move The Following to another night midseason.

There is no reason to move New Girl anywhere. but FOX has to do whatever it can to make 8p stronger. They tried reality in Hell’s Kitchen and it’s definitely holding up well at a 2.0 (and against The Voice!) and doing better than the comedies earlier in the season. I might suggest a new reality here (especially if NBC moves The Voice to 9p). Fox had a few projects in development like dating show Babes On A Bus or Divorce Hotel. I don’t know the status of either one. Maybe they have some new covert project planned for here. BUT – FOX needs new scripted hits and if their comedy development is strong they’d be smart to air new comedies from 8-9 since (unless NBC slots some there), there likely won’t be any in the slot. Maybe FOX can air The Mike Schur, Andy Samberg starrer Brooklyn 99 about a New York Police Precinct at 8p into the army based comedy Enlisted. Two male skewing single cams that sounds different from everything on TV currently. FOX is committed to give The Mindy Project another try, though the Jason Ritter/Alexis Bledel romance Friends and Family sounds like it would be a nice partner there for New Girl. Maybe they can share a slot with one for midseason. (Did FOX order more than 13 for Mindy? Don’t know). I think FOX saves Raising Hope for midseason.

(If FOX had a really strong 8:30 or 9:30 animated Sunday comedy, I might suggest they move it to Tue at 8 followed by a new one, but I don’t think either is strong enough currently).

I’m guessing FOX gives a comedy night another shot. They can have Gordon Ramsey (or a new reality show) on backup should it fail. My guess is they’re hoping that Toxic Office show takes off this summer, in order for it to be their Tue at 8 option. But for right now I’m going to suggest Tue look like this:

Brooklyn 99/Enlisted/New Girl/ Mindy or Friends and Family

I think FOX should move Glee to Wed at 9 (its original home). It’s not getting a huge boost following Idol and in some weeks is even behind The Office. Wed at 9 it will be the only young skewing show. It should be able to do a 2.0 (and get a nice DVR boost). FOX can launch one of their best new dramas into it.  Leading into it I would suggest they slot Rake. It’s a character driven comedic drama starring Greg Kinnear as a House like attorney. The biggest show in the slot currently is Survivor which is getting a 2.6. It’s an hour that’s open for FOX to try to launch a new hit and this show sounds different for FOX and unique enough to make some noise for them in this hour. It’s likely Idol will still air Wed/Thu but even if it does, Rake only has 15 eps and will likely be done before Feb. FOX would be thrilled for Rake to be a big enough hit they have to worry where to slot the final  5 eps.

(Should FOX indeed move the X Factor performance show off Wednesday, they might be able to use reality in midseason at 9 in between two arcs of 11 Glee eps each. If they don’t use Hell’s Kitchen on Tue, they can air it Wed at 9 midseason since there would be no reality show there presumably).

Wednesday: Rake/Glee

Thu: X Factor Performance show

Fri the X results can air at 8. At 9 FOX could possibly air Raising Hope (and another new comedy or comedy repeats), though FOX might be better off saving Raising Hope for midseason. They can run eps into the summer should they need to. Unless it pops suddenly, I could see it being RH’s last season (though with enough eps to enter into syndication). FOX could also use the 9p hour on Friday to encore their new shows or even air Kitchen Nightmares some weeks.

Friday: X Factor Results/Encores of New shows or Kitchen Nightmares

The bottom line is FOX needs new hits and I think however they launch them they will pick up more shows than they have in recent years. I’m guessing 3-4 dramas (including the ones I mentioned above) and 3 -4 comedies including Seth McFarlane’s multi cam Dads which already has a 6 ep commitment.

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Upfront ’13 Thoughts: ABC

Last season ABC had the best freshmen class of the year launching hits Once Upon A Time, Revenge, Suburgatory and Last Man Standing which all returned for a season 2. This season ABC didn’t have that kind of success with new shows (though Nashville, while not a home run is a solid double or triple with opportunity for growth). But I do think ABC has some nice positives this season:

Scandal which launched with 7 eps last season has blossomed into a big hit. Most of its originals in 2013 have been getting a 2.8 or 2.7 at 10p on Thu which is the highest rated same day results for any 10p broadcast show currently.

Shark Tank is the other big success story for ABC. It’s probably extra sweet for them as the show is already in its 4th season and after a 1st season that wasn’t a lock for renewal, it has grown each year. This is the first season that ABC gave it a full season order which has now extended to 26 eps. It regularly is the highest rated demo show on Fri night. Its last original got a 2.1. 2s and Friday night are an extremely rare thing these days. For ABC it has been even rarer.  Shark Tank is one of ABCs biggest hits now and more importantly for the network, it reruns incredibly well and in any timeslot its been used in. All the more reason I think ABC should finally move it to a more viewed night, but more on that later.

The Bachelor has proven that after 11 years, with the right casting, it’s still a strong ratings performer and watercooler show.

To continue with The Bachelor metaphor, not everything for ABC was coming up roses. The biggest problem for ABC is the continued downtrend for Dancing With The Stars. A 2.2 and 13 million in 2013 isn’t terrible, but it also gets zero DVR boost, so thats the ceiling for this show now. Its older skewing and each of the last 4 iterations has trended down.  Last fall, I suggested ABC sit out this spring out and give it a much-needed rest. They didn’t and who knew maybe with fresh casting (as opposed to last falls All Star version) people would return. What has come to pass is that The Voice is much bigger than ever and DWTS is now a full 3 points behind it. On many Mondays at 8p it’s 3rd behind CBS and NBC and with DVR added to Bones, it’s 4th. That’s not good for a show and a network that was easily #1 in this slot just 2 years ago.

Before you point to the fact that it’s a performance based show against the biggest one on TV currently, I present the Tuesday night results show ratings from the other night as Exhibit A. The Voice ended at 9 and Ready For Love had sent viewers fleeing for their remotes. CBS and FOX were in reruns. The best DWTS could do was TIE an NCIS rerun for #1 in viewers (12 plus million) and the demo (2.2). That’s the real ratings potential of the show right now and frankly ABC can do better. In fact ABC has done better this year with The Bachelor. The Bachelor was in the high 2’s (even hitting a 3.0 occasionally) and getting 9 plus million viewers a week by the time the show ended this season. A Tuesday episode got a 2.7 this February against original competition. The Bachelor is a very high income show (one of the biggest on TV), is younger skewing (big with Women 18-34) and at this point isn’t too far off from the total viewers DWTS is bringing in. (The one area DWTS was still ahead of The Voice was in total viewers but in the last 2 weeks The Voice has grown to 14 plus million – a million ahead of DWTS and they have the younger demos too).

While The Bachelor didn’t air against The Voice this season, it did last year and last years The Bachelor was one of the weakest seasons the show had produced. Even so, in their first head to head on Monday last year, The Voice got a 6.7 (which came directly after its Super Bowl lead-in premiere),  The Bachelor held up with a 2.5 which is higher than any DWTS number has gotten against The Voice now (and that was for a weaker Bachelor season).

The Bachelor is a different animal. Yes they’re both in the reality or “alternative” category but one’s a performance show and one is a dating show with a very passionate young audience. As I have suggested before and for over the past month repeated regularly on Twitter, I think ABC would benefit greatly from flipping the order of the Monday night alternative series:  Instead of DWTS airing in the fall and Winter, it should air in January. The Bachelor would take the fall and spring slots. DWTS would get a 7 month rest – the longest the show has been off the air since ’06- and give the audience a chance to miss it. It can return in January presumably when The Voice is off between its two cycles. With a longer break, being the only performance show and maybe with some creative casting, it’s certainly possible for DWTS to grow again. The Bachelor should be able to hold up better against The Voice and still do quite well especially with Women 18-34.

So ABC should start their week with The Bachelor. What should air at 10? I could certainly understand ABC wanting to leave Castle there as it’s a strong and consistent performer, but I have another idea. A few months ago I wrote a post that Nashville, while not the game changer ABC was likely hoping for, was still a pretty good performer for 2013 and that ABC should leave it in their previously troubled Wed 10p slot. There was only one caveat where I thought might benefit moving it and that was if The Bachelor was on Monday in the fall. Well now that I am proposing that, I am suggesting ABC move Nashville to Monday in the fall to follow it.

Nashville has a strong core audience, especially in the same Women 18-34 demo that the Bachelor appeals to. All season its been regularly getting a 1.3 upgrade after 7 days of DVR viewing making it one of falls biggest gainers. Adding that to a high 1 (its last new ep got a 1.8), that’s really decent for a 10p drama these days. It didn’t fall off too much from its Suburgatory lead all this year, mostly just off a few tenths and Suburgatory has proven itself to be an ill-fitting post Modern Family show. It’s hard to imagine, but it did worse this year than last with a much bugger lead in. Tonally it seemed a bit off from MF too and it certainly wasn’t driving many people into Nashville.

In the most recent DVR list (Week of March 25) Nashville was the 6th biggest DVR gainer in the demo and ABCs 3rd best DVR gainer behind Modern Family and Grey’s (ahead of every other ABC show and shows on other nets like 2 Broke Girls, NCIS, Bones etc).  The first Nashville soundtrack has done well and many of the songs featured on the show have been big Itunes sellers. Nashville has a lot going for it and while leaving it on Wed is a fine option, it probably won’t grow there, especially as CBS is still very strong with CSI and NBC became a player this season with Chicago Fire.

I think there is growth potential paired with The Bachelor as (unlike Suburgatory) it’s a show that really matches the audience that watches Nashville, AND there’s more of them that watch it live. ABC could leave Castle there or try to launch a new show, but a new show could easily flop. Nashville already gets a 1.8 with an incompatible lead in (not far off from Castle in the demo). It’s worth noting that Scandal didn’t really start to move the ratings needle until its 7th ep this season (it’s 14th episode overall). Nashville has much going for it, but it needs to expand its same day audience. Airing after The Bachelor presents an opportunity for that, I believe.

I also think that unlike Wed where I expect CBS and NBC to remain the same, the Monday 10p timeslot is possibly in flux. While Revolution is a hit, it’s not getting 3’s like it was in early fall. CBS will likely make a change to 10p Monday next season either with a new show or moving an established one there. Plus it’s also possible a few The Voice viewers might be tempted to migrate over to Nashville at 10p.

ABC Monday should be aimed squarely at Women 18-34 from 8-11 and go with The Bachelor into Nashville.

(I also think ABC should air reruns of the show on Sat all summer to give new people a chance to discover it, in a timeslot where low rated reruns won’t hurt.  I don’t know the financial logistics of making an arrangement for CMT to air reruns of the show during the summer, but I would recommend that as well. It’s worth noting that Nashville had its highest rated episodes of the season, except for the premiere, its first 2 weeks back in Jan (both over a 2.0) which followed a Sunday afternoon marathon of 6 eps on CMT. There are ways for ABC to keep this show in people’s minds and possibly recruit some new viewers over the summer and I think they should definitely explore it).

ABC should attack Tue. For over a year I’ve lamented the big 10p hole on network TV, but this year it’s extended to 9p. ABC had a huge opportunity to attack it in Jan, while The Voice was on hiatus. For whatever reason, they didn’t take it. I suggested they move Shark Tank to 9p, a slot with no reality show. I haven’t changed my position. Shark Tank is getting a 2.0 and 7 million on Friday night. It has grown every one of its years on the air. There are probably people who still are unaware of the show. On a more viewed night, like Tuesday there is the potential for it to grow even more. ABC will have a reality hole here with no DWTS and I think Shark Tank could easily outrate its recent ratings. Shark Tank could also provide ABC something they haven’t had on Tuesday in years – an hour that will bring in numbers every week, even in reruns, all season. Even when DWTS was at its height, ABC had 4 months in the middle of the season when Tuesday ratings were anemic at best. Shark Tank regularly gets a 1.5 and 5 million in reruns on Friday night. I think ABC should make ST its Tuesday tentpole and schedule new dramas around it. Wednesday and Thursday will have minimal changes and ABC can send the bulk of its marketing to a new Tuesday.

ABC should start off the night with Marvel’s Agents Of Shield. We all know this is a lock for pickup. It’s obviously gonna end up on Thu, Sun or here. With 2 strong dramas on Thu, I think its less needed there. Sunday after OUAT is certainly an option, which could prop up that night, but it would face the NFL there and this show feels like it could be a big tent, a whole family watching type of show and Sunday Night Football is watched live. Right now ABC Tuesday is the one night where they need something EVERY hour (unlike Thu and Sun). Plus one thing it could potentially have in common with Shark Tank, is the latter is a show families watch together. Shark Tank is appealing to everyone from 8 to 88. SHIELD is aiming for everyone too, especially since it’s from the same auspices as The Avengers which brought in 600 million dollars domestically.

As it has been the last few seasons there is no strong broadcast 10p drama. (On cable Sons Of Anarchy is huge, especially with men.) I think ABC should pick one of their best new female skewing dramas at 10 or something lighter and less high concept than SHIELD.  They have a number of high concept conspiracy/soap type/Revenge sounding female skewing dramas I,.e, Betrayal, Westside (which based on logline alone sounds a lot like FOXs ill-fated SKIN) and Reckless. It’s hard to get a read on ABCs drama slate this year, though they boast strong casts and directors like Patty Jenkins and Martin Campbell. Tue at 10p is a good place for them to place a new drama they think they has a good shot at breaking out since it’s the one hour on the schedule where no broadcast network has a hit. If you believe advance buzz (which I tend not to at this point since in many cases it changes), Westside (formerly Venice) is “red hot”. Who knows?

One thing that seems like is missing from ABCs development these last two seasons is lighter fare like Ugly Betty & Brothers & Sisters. ABCs highest rated drama Grey’s has lots of humor and lightness to it. That’s part of the DNA of the network. It seems like many of their shows in development the last 2 years are more Revenge-y. The one drama that seems a bit lighter is also a bit more procedural sounding (and I usually advise against ABC from going that route as they tend not to work for them). .The show I’m referring to is Murder in Manhattan which stars Annie Potts and Bridget Regan as a mother/daughter sleuth team. It’s clearly a lighter mystery show (like Castle) and clearly a family drama as well. FX will definitely attract the men on cable, and its possible CBS has an NCIS show here as well. ABC should schedule a new drama female skewing. It’s important to note that Castle is ABCs highest rated drama in total viewers. A light mystery/family drama seems like a good capper to what I am describing as ABCs big Tent Tuesday. It will most likely be counterprogramming to everything else in the hour.

Right now I’m suggesting Tuesday to look like this: Marvels’s Agents of SHIELD/Shark Tank/Their strongest female skewing new drama. Possibly Westside or Murder in Manhattan

Update: Sat 4/20 – I inadvertently left out David Shore’s next project Doubt which could wind up on ABC sometime next season as well. Wouldnt bet against the guy that gave us House. Like that hit, this also stars a British actor mostly known for comedy, Steve Coogan. It has a great supporting cast that also includes Carla Gugino. Logline almost sounds a bit like House but as a lawyer. Tue at 10, a slot with no big hit currently, would be a good place to launch an adult legal drama, should it turn out well.

Wednesday’s staples The Middle and Modern Family remain. ABC is likely encouraged by week 3 of How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life. It held 100 percent of The Modern Family rerun at a 2.0 which is better than other shows have done there. It follows another rerun next week and that will be a real test, but it’s encouraging thus far. What’s more encouraging is that it held almost of all the total viewers at over 6 million, something no post MF show has come close to doing (shows like Happy Endings and Apt 23 were clearly younger skewing and less broad appealing than MF. How To Live seems like a better fit). If it holds on another week, I’m inclined to say ABC should return it as is in the fall and give it more time to grow. If ABCs comedy development is good, they might be tempted to move it to 8:30 and give a new comedy the post MF lead, aka the best shot at success. But Suburgatory did far worse this year than last when it launched at 8:30, and it might be best for ABC to remain as stable as they can on this night.

Speaking of Suburgatory, I really (maybe naively) expected the season finale to perform better this week. They promoted it well. But the first half was a 1.5, and the second was still under 6 million and 1.7. It will grow .6 in DVR and I don’t doubt ABC will renew it, but it wouldn’t be crazy for ABC to try to launch a new comedy here next fall. I think ABC could hold Suburgatory for midseason or possibly add it to a Friday comedy lineup which may seem like a downgrade move to some, but Last Man Standing has performed almost as well there this March as it did on Tue last year.

One thing that comes to mind is that How To Live is a more traditional family comedy, like Modern Family is which maybe why its holding more of Modern for now. Suburgatory while terrific, is a little left of center.

ABC has a few family comedies in development that sound like could fit in nicely on Wed.

Trophy Wife – Malin Ackerman is Bradley Whitford 3rd wife and inherits his kids and 2 ex wives played by Marcia Gay Harden and Michael Watkins

The Goldbergs (previously How The Hell Am I Normal) – Adam Goldberg’s seemingly autobiographical  80s set sitcom with sitcom vets Jeff Garlin, George Segal and Wendy McLendon-Covey.

Adopted – Andrea Abbate’s autobiographical comedy about a unique blended family starring Kelly Preston.

Based on loglines, these 3 sound like they would fit in perfectly to ABC comedy Wednesday and are populated with recognizable stars. I would imagine the one that came out the best will join ABC Wednesday in the fall. If you believe advance buzz The Cullen Brothers baseball/family themed comedy starring James Caan is “hot” at the network. I guess it could fit here as well.

At 10p I would slot Castle. For years ABC couldn’t get a show to work Wed at 10p. The last 2 years they finally did. I would only suggest moving Nashville to Monday if they would have assurances that their 10p Wed wouldn’t fall apart. Castle should actually fit in perfectly here. It’s a lighter procedural and will mesh with the comedies. It’s also ABC s highest rated drama in total viewers. It will likely help keep ABC closer to CSI in this slot than Nashville and ahead of Chicago Fire. Castle has been doing great for TNT and new people are discovering it. There’s more life in it. Having such a large audience at 10 could also help How To Live, or if they air a new sitcom here, since it will be sandwiched between two mainstream hits.

So Wednesday could look like this The Middle/Adopted or The Goldbergs or Trophy Wife/Modern Family/How To Live/Castle

Update 5/6/13: As I mentioned on Twitter last week, Castle has been winning 10p handily and I would totally understand ABC not wanting to relinquish that. The only possible way that I see ABC moving it is to grow Nashville out of a compatible Bachelor and for Castle to air on Wed where it would fit and do well, and even then it’s  still a risk to move a show. But that would be the only scenario where it should happen and as weeks go by, I’m less inclined and would totally understand ABC leaving the Mon and Wed 10p dramas as is.

ABC Thursday 9-11 shouldn’t no be touched. Some seem to want to suggest ABC flip Scandal & Greys. I just don’t see a need for that. Scandal is dong terrific at 10. Grey’s is still far and away ABCs biggest drama in the demo. They are a powerful tandem together and I say leave them. ABC should continue to make 8p a reality slot. If CBS moves TBBT to 9p I could see how some would see that as opportunity to strike at 8p. If they do, there might be an opportunity to try scripted drama or comedy later in the season. A lighter drama like the previously mentioned Murder in Manhattan might work here. But as this point I say they move all their promotional muscle to Tuesday and keep this a reality slot. 9-year-old Wife Swap while not setting the world on fire is doing better now than any drama has developed there recently. I believe ABC has a few new reality projects in development and I assume they have this slot in mind. Some are suggesting Shark Tank move to this slot and while it would certainly make this night even stronger, they don’t need it. They have 2 strong hours on Thu and NONE on Tue. Shark Tank is needed on Tuesday more.

(I have long thought Secret Millionaire might be a good Thu 8p option. ABC seems to have fallen out of favor with the show for some reason, but it’s worth nothing it regularly got between 9-10 million viewers when it aired for 6 weeks on Sun 2 years ago. Last year it aired on Sunday in the summer and it got a 1.5. While not great, I have long assumed it would have done better during the season like it did before. ABC never even aired the last 6 eps and that’s especially curious since Extreme Makeover:Weight Loss Edition was lower rated than SM and it is occupying Tuesdays for 15 weeks this summer I know that EM:WLE needs a year lead time to produce, but I still think there’s life in SM for ABC and wondered why they didn’t try it Thu at 8 this season. At the very least it would be pulling Wife Swap numbers which makes it a decent show to have even for a Friday show. It has the same DNA as Undercover Boss and that show is still doing well on Fri.)

Thu should be some reality project (possibly new reality) at 8, followed by Greys and Scandal

Many are saying Last Man Standing is on the bubble. How is a 7 million and a 1.5 show on Friday on the bubble? I don’t see why this isn’t kicking off Friday next year again. I seem to be in the minority that ABC should bring back Malibu Country but its worth noting that it got a 1.4 and 7 mil out of LMSs 1.6 for their finales in March. Again these are cheaper multi cams on a Friday night and ABC owns Malibu which stars much beloved Reba. With summer reruns, it’s not crazy for that show to grow. ABC only has two multi cams in development and one in particular would work well after LMS. It’s John Leguizamo’s autobiographical, King John. I’d still renew Malibu but maybe start the fall with King John or vice versa.

I think ABC brings The Neighbors back and Friday 9p is a nice place for it. Until last week I was holding out hope that Happy Endings would hold those 1s they got the week before and ABC could air it Fri at 9:30. After the results on Friday I’m assuming ABC wont renew (but hopefully USA will bring it back).

ABC could have their new TGIF they have talked about the last few years: Last Man Standing/King John or Malibu Country/The Neighbors/Suburgatory followed by 20/20. It gives ABC two nights of family comedy blocks.

I made a suggestion Sunday suggestion 6 weeks ago and I’m not deviating from it at this point. Revenge definitely slides down to 10. It’s not doing good enough business at 9p now, but it could be a strong 10p show. Like I said then, Gothica on paper sounds like a strong follow-up to Once Upon A Time with characters like Grace Van Helsing, Dorian Gray. etc and a great cast including Janet Montgomery. It’s also possible that ABC doesn’t like the finished project and while this slot tends to call for a high concept show, I wonder if something quieter like The Returned or Forever as it’s called now could work. (Seriously ABC, Betrayal, Forever, Reckless etc, these generic titles need to go). Another option might be Big Thunder but I think ABC might want to launch that midseason. They have a big high concept show with Shield and 2 of them might be a bit much. Gothica is high concept but it seems to share a lot of DNA with OUAT and that would make it smoother transition. I don’t know how ABC plans to schedule the OUAT spinoff but I imagine that doesn’t show up til midseason either way (possibly at 9p in case the new 9p show fails). Whatever new show airs Sun 9p, it should be one of ABCs strongest new dramas as this night needs a bit of juice.

So for Sunday, I’m still going with Once Upon A Time/Gothica/Revenge

Couple More tidbits:

ABC hasn’t had much luck with younger skewing comedies lately but even if Super Fun Night doesn’t come out great, they should pick it up solely for Rebel Wilson. She’s one of the hottest stars right now and many comedies find their way after a handful of eps. They would benefit having her on their network. They could potentially pair it with the unique sounding Mixology and launch them both sometime midseason.

Body of Proof is older skewing but even before DWTS, it was getting 7 million a week. Now it’s getting between 9 and 10. Like I felt about NBCs Harry’s Law last year, I just don’t know how you cancel a show with that many viewers. It shouldn’t be on their fall sked, but do they bring it back for a few eps midseason? It’s likely done and I’m not advocating it for fall. But it does give me pause.

As I noted recently, ABC needs to schedule their Sun dramas mostly uninterrupted in fall and spring, and take off Jan and Feb completely which will have big events every week. Nashville can air 9 uninterrupted eps in fall and spring and 4 in Jan and just take off the month of Feb against the Olympics.

Third time the charm? Kyle Killen’s Influence is vying for a slot on ABCs sked. He’s a great writer and his last 2 shows were unique and compelling. Does the show get a pickup and if so, is this the one that clicks?

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