Thursday, August 20, 2009

19 Timeslots, Thursday 8PM

Thursday at 8 had become a bit of mainstay timeslot. Four of five networks had a show they could say they aired here each of the last three years. But three of those four shows are gone this year, leaving things a bit more up in the air.

ABC: Ugly Betty was one of the biggest surprise hits in recent memory, launching very well as a lead-in to Grey's Anatomy in fall of '06. Three full seasons in the slot later, it's barely finding a 2.0 demo and limping into a fourth season on Friday nights. ABC has been shopping for replacements since spring '08 when they tried comedy Miss Guided and then in spring '09 comedies Samantha Who? and In The Motherhood but none of them did Betty numbers. Still, keeping it there for fall '09 was a tough sell so they've deprioritized it to Friday and given the greenlight to sci-fi effort Flash Forward.

CBS: Survivor has done plenty of its own declining but it's still the defining show of this timeslot until somebody else says otherwise, averaging a 4.2 in fall '08 and a 3.8 in spring '09. (not including clips or Sunday finales)

FOX: Thursdays were once a disaster evening for Fox and '06-'07 was probably the last year that we could really say that, with failure sitcoms like 'Til Death, Happy Hour, and The War at Home leading into completely spent The O.C. But things turned around in the spring when Fox gave a regular timeslot to game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, a slot it held down through the end of the '07-'08 season. Unsatisfied with 5th Grader any longer, Fox went to game show dud Hole in the Wall for a brief run before replacing it with Kitchen Nightmares repeats. The slot then went to Bones in the winter and while it did make improvements year-to-year on some of the later 5th Grader airings, it was down from its Wednesday numbers averaging just a 2.7. It should have this timeslot nailed down wire-to-wire in '09-'10.

NBC: A longtime home for comedy dominance on NBC saw just one hour of it when fall '06 kicked off, the My Name is Earl/The Office duo that had previously aired at 9 on Thursday as well as on Tuesdsay. Earl stayed in the 8 PM slot for three full seasons while The Office headed to 9 in fall '07. Earl was joined by a ragtag team of comedies across those final two years including 30 Rock (fall '07), Scrubs (spring '08), Kath & Kim (fall-winter '08), and Parks & Recreation (spring '09). Earl, which was like Betty struggling to find a 2.0, found itself axed at the end of '08-'09 and will be replaced by a new anchor in Community, while Parks survives into fall '09 to join it.

CW: WB import Smallville has held this timeslot down for the CW's entire existence and been one of the net's strongest shows, but in fall '09 it's headed to Friday while newbie The Vampire Diaries takes over.

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