[Over the next six days, 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. Check out last year’s DVR Gridlock installments.]
ABC: “The Middle,” “Back in the Game”
The CW: “Arrow”
FOX: “The X Factor” (and then “Idol”)
ABC: “Modern Family,” “Super Fun Night”
CBS: “Criminal Minds”
The CW: “Tomorrow People”
FOX: “The X Factor” (and then “Idol”)
NBC: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
CBS: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
What’s Changed: Thanks in part to FOX’s determination to keep renewing a talent competition nobody particularly cares about — “X Factor,” not “American Idol” — Wednesdays are a good deal more stable than the couple nights that came before. FOX remains untouched. CBS remains untouched. Once again, ABC is using established successes “The Middle” and “Modern Family” to try to launch new comedies, a strategy that has had only limited success thus far, while keeping “Nashville,” a DVR winner but a middling live performer, in its place. The CW keeps freshman CW-sized smash “Arrow” in place, using it to lead into the new drama “Tomorrow People.” The only network changing more than half of its Wednesday lineup is NBC, with “Revolution” taking the 8 p.m. hour, Blair Underwood’s “Ironside” remake at 10 p.m. and NBC’s stubborn insistence on airing “SVU” in the 9 p.m. hour even though all indications have always been that it performs better at 10 p.m.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: The “Revolution” producers have always sworn that their show is a big-tent family hour. Now they’ll get to prove it. NBC’s needs from “Revolution” aren’t that exorbitant. Nobody’s asking it to return to its fall levels, only to do nearly what it has done in a dwindling spring and hold onto its robust DVR tallies. If it does that, it’ll be a huge improvement over NBC’s various comedy duds this year. If it fails to do that and takes a “Smash”-sized plunge without “The Voice,” “Revolution” will be remembered as an epic flameout and little more. Otherwise, there’s a lot of pragmatism on Wednesday. FOX, for example, knows that “X Factor” isn’t likely to improve much, so the network is just hoping for another modest season and maybe a few drama hits elsewhere so that “X Factor” doesn’t need to be brought back again. NBC can’t honestly expect “Ironside” to improve much on what “Chicago Fire” did here last year, but if it can approach those levels while “Chicago Fire” takes the next step on Tuesday after “The Voice,” it’s a win. And The CW can’t be expecting “Tomorrow People” to improve much on “Supernatural,” but if “Supernatural” can boost Tuesday and “Tomorrow People” can near those numbers thanks to “Arrow,” that’s a win. And how much can ABC really expect “Super Fun Night” or “Back in the Game” to do in those sandwich slots? The answer: If either of them does a *smidge* better than “The Neighbors” or “How To Live Blah Blah Blah,” that’s a victory. [All bets on “Super Fun Night” are off if the network can redevelop the pilot *successfully*. I think there’s breakout potential for a *good* Rebel Wilson comedy. A bad one could fail fast and hard.] In short, I don’t see anybody making any big advances or huge declines on Wednesday this year. It’s a night that’s about enabling success elsewhere more than anything else.
My Predicted DVR: For me, a lot depends on whether or not I simply quit recapping “The X Factor” this year. I haven’t decided yet. If I drop “X Factor,” I then recap “Survivor” on Eastern Time and that leaves me with “Arrow” and maybe “Revolution” being recorded at 8 p.m. and “Modern Family” (and maybe “Super Fun Night” just due to convenience) and possibly “Tomorrow People” at 9 p.m. If I recap “X Factor,” that then require another DVR slot for “Survivor” at 8 p.m. and probably drops “Revolution” from my rotation, which won’t be a tragedy. At 10 p.m. I’ll still be recording “Nashville” and we’ll see about “Ironside,” or if I just go with something on cable.
How have the new schedules impacted your Wednesdays?