Friday, September 3, 2010

22 Hours of Primetime, Friday 8/7c

Today, my fall preview looks at Friday 8/7c. The death of scripted originals on Friday night may soon be upon us. For now, three of five nets are still trying.

In fall '07 ABC had two scripted hours on the night and made the bold move of putting 10pm tentpole 20/20 at 8:00, a disaster that was eventually reversed by putting Men in Trees at 8. That didn't work either so in came Grey's Anatomy repeats, which had held the slot for most of 2007-08. For '08-'09 the net imported journeyman duo Wife Swap/Supernanny and Wife Swap held the slot for the entire season. The next year there was one less hour for the pair so they shared the slot. One or both may show up at some point in 2010-11, but for now the plan is Fox import Secret Millionaire.

Ghost Whisperer was a surprise success story in 2005 and held the timeslot for five seasons, but its substantial drops in the 2009-10 season saw it get a somewhat surprising axe. Previous 9pm show Medium takes its place. It averaged a 1.84 in the later hour in 2009-10.

The reality TV tradition in this timeslot is long and varied. In fall 2007 it was Deal or No Deal, then in late December NBC briefly burnt off some Singing Bee episodes, then brought back the final episodes of 1 vs. 100 in early '08 which gave way to yet another game show in Amnesia. NBC filled the slot with Most Outrageous Moments repeats after Amnesia wrapped. Another reality bomb in America's Toughest Jobs opened up '08-'09 in the slot but got bumped to Saturday while 9PM occupant DOND slid down here again. NBC tried reality one more time with another Howie Mandel show called Howie Do It in the winter and got a decent start out of the show but saw it almost completely fizzle by season's end. NBC bucked the reality/game show trend in fall '09 with Law & Order, but it headed to Mondays at midseason and gave way to another new reality program called Who Do You Think You Are? That show averaged a 1.49 in its short midseason run and will return in 2010-11 and share the hour with yet another reality newbie called School Pride.

This has historically been a tough night for Fox. In fall of '07 the net went with Idol ripoff American Band to pretty low results but it aired its whole fall season. Fox promised to move Bones originals into this slot as they often have in past seasons but ended up just airing repeats in the winter while the originals stayed on a bigger night. In the spring the slot became home to more scripted duds like The Return of Jezebel James and Canterbury's Law. Fox finally became remotely competitive on the evening when game show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? showed up here on a permanent basis in fall '08, but in the winter the net imported fast-fading Terminator: SCC to the timeslot. The final eps of Prison Break also got a run here toward the end of the '08-'09 season. In 2009-10, they started with a sitcom hour of Brothers and 'Til Death, but those posted terrible ratings, and the net mostly went with repeats here after the shows left the hour in late October. Once again, the net will make something of an effort on the evening, as they move barely-renewed sophomore Human Target to the evening. Expect it to not even come close to its 2.46 midseason 2010 average or even its Wednesday 8pm average of 2.23.

This timeslot housed the first half of UPN staple Friday Night Smackdown! for the first two years of the CW's existence but the network let go of the franchise for the '08-'09 season. CW moved comedies Everybody Hates Chris and The Game to this hour and while they had decent results they were essentially in burnoff mode and were axed after the season. In the 2009-10 season they got a tad more aggressive in moving Thursday staple Smallville over, and despite its major year-to-year drops it returns for a 10th and final season in 2010-11. A male-skewing show on a net that badly wants to skew female, in 2009-10 it averaged a mere 0.75 in the CW demo of women 18-34 but a 1.01 in adults 18-49.

Medium - 1.48 average (-20% from last year), 1.7 premiere (-19%)
Human Target - 1.32 average (-46%), 1.6 premiere (-45%)
Secret Millionaire - 1.25 average, 1.5 premiere
School Pride - 1.20 average, 1.5 premiere
Who Do You Think You Are? - 1.20 average (-19%), 1.3 premiere (-19%)

Smallville - 0.70 W18-34 average (-7%), 0.9 premiere (even) - Down the stretch of its final season, it could be competitive with everything in A18-49. I'm predicting about a 0.95 A18-49 average overall, down 6% from last season.

Probably nothing. This may be the only timeslot on TV where I could be convinced to try Human Target again; we'll see how much else is backed up on the old DVR as the season gets going. You?

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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