[This week, I’m going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I’ll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I’m old-fashioned.]
ABC: “Shark Tank” til November, then “Last Man Standing,” “Malibu Country”
CBS: “CSI: NY”
The CW: “America’s Next Top Model”
NBC: “Whitney,” “Community”
ABC: “Primetime: What Would You Do?”
CBS: “Made in Jersey”
The CW: “Nikita”
CBS: “Blue Bloods”
What’s Changed: Are Fridays coming back to life? CBS would tell you that Fridays never died. But are Fridays “cool” again? Suddenly, by November, there are going to be 10 scripted programs airing on Friday nights and while no network other than CBS expects those shows to draw viewers, there’s still an appealingly retro notion that Friday is a viable night of the week. The big moves include ABC and NBC trying out new comedy blocks, specifically with ABC opting for an Old School-style TGIF block of established stars in family-driven multi-cams, and NBC contrasting with the completely incompatible pairing of “Whitney” and The New Look “Community.” Then you have FOX shifting “Touch” to Fridays as a lead-in for the last season of “Fringe,” plus The CW moving “America’s Next Top Model” to what may be its final resting place. And, finally, you have CBS juggling things a tiny bit with “CSI: NY” going to 8 p.m. and leading into “Made in Jersey,” which is likely to have an incredibly short leash with semi-proven Friday performer “Undercover Boss” just waiting patiently on the shelf.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: CBS will win Fridays easily overall, but there’s no reason why the 18-49 race couldn’t be wide open. Even last season, ABC and occasionally NBC were competitive in the eye demographic and if either of those two comedy 8 p.m. blocks hit on even the lowest of levels — Say, a 1.6 or 1.8 demo rating — that’ll beat “CSI: NY” and set the night up for a close finish. NBC’s going to try to air “Grimm” repeats in amenable time periods this summer to get some second year growth, but that’s unlikely. Even with Kiefer Sutherland, don’t expect “Touch” draw appreciably better than “Finder” did in the same slot last year, though a tiny bump is likely. Also likely to rise a little bit is “America’s Next Top Model,” which has been reliably crushed by reality competition and may recover a handful of viewers in a more desolate time period, while “Nikita” may also rise a tiny bit because there are more people watching TV in the 9 p.m. hour than at 8 p.m. The night’s biggest question mark will be “Made in Jersey,” which is geographically compatible with “CSI: NY” and “Blue Bloods,” but not a great tonal or gender match. As I said above, if “Made in Jersey” fails to Launch,” CBS may need to make a move before November sweeps, which would be a very un-CBS move.
My Predicted DVR: I’ll record “Community” in the 8 p.m. hour and there’s a strong chance that after ditching “ANTM” in the spring, I may check back in to see the new judging panel and whatnot. In the 9 p.m. hour I’ll do “Nikita” and “Fringe” and I’ll try to track down “Made in Jersey” for a couple weeks just to chart its progress. And 10 p.m.? ZERO. Is that the only hour of the entire week my DVR isn’t recording something? Nice!