NBC has very quickly gone from being the highest-rated network this season to third place — thanks in part to a February sweeps period where the network finished fifth, behind Univision — and so it’s back to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, with a series of moves that will banish the doomed “Smash” to Saturdays and turn dating game show “Ready for Love” into the network’s last hope to avoid the cellar for another full season.
Among the changes announced this evening:
* “Smash” will move to Saturdays at 9 p.m. beginning April 6. NBC promises the struggling second-year musical “will air its entire season of 17 episodes.” But when you get sent to Saturday, you’re done. “Bombshell” has bombed.
* “Ready for Love,” a dating show produced by Eva Longoria, was supposed to air on Sundays. Instead, it will air regularly on Tuesdays after “The Voice,” from 9-11, beginning on April 9.
* As a result, “Celebrity Apprentice” will be regularly scheduled for two hours a week, Sundays from 9-11, beginning April 14 until the end of May.
* To fill some of the gap left by the absence of “Ready for Love,” encore episodes of “The Voice” will air on Sunday, March 31 and April 7, from 7-10.
* To make room for “Ready for Love,” the final two episodes of “Go On” season 1 will air Thursdays at 9:30 on April 4 and 11, following “The Office.” The one-hour “New Normal” season finale will air Tuesday, April 2, from 9-10.
Once “Smash” bombed upon its return, there had been speculation that NBC would swap its timeslot with the upcoming “Hannibal,” but the Hannibal Lecter prequel series remains in the Thursday at 10 death slot, while NBC is hoping that “The Voice,” “Revolution” and “Ready for Love” will be enough to avoid more statistical humiliation.