Wednesday, September 1, 2010

22 Hours of Primetime, Wednesday 8/7c

Today, my fall preview looks at Wednesday 8/7c. Survivor will certainly shake up what has long been a very weak timeslot.

Fall '07 saw the decent launch of Pushing Daisies, but thanks to the strike it was hiatus-bound by the end of the calendar year and Wife Swap took over for the rest of the season. Daisies returned to terrible results in fall '08, so much of early '09 saw this slot filled by Lost repeats. Eventually comedy block of Scrubs and Better Off Ted filled in and struggled to hit a 2.0. Then in fall came new comedies Hank and The Middle. Hank was a bomb and gone quickly for Modern Family or Middle repeats but The Middle made major growth out of Hank and got renewed despite its pretty mediocre 2.28 average. It returns to the hour but shifts to 8:00 where it'll lead into newbie Better With You.

In fall '08 CBS committed to comedy in this slot, shipping vet The New Adventures of Old Christine here alongside newbie Gary Unmarried. Despite finishing near the bottom of CBS' totem pole each week they did make slight improvements on fall '07's Kid Nation and hung on for the full season and then into another, but things got even more dire for the pair in 2009-10. CBS axed both and moved their third comedy hour to Thursdays, while Survivor ends a run of nearly a decade on Thursday night and returns to Wednesday where it began in summer 2000. Its Thursday cycles in 2009-10 averaged a 3.81 and 3.91 demo.

Deal or No Deal ran in the slot for almost all of '07-'08, getting a brief breather for reality failure Phenomenon. In fall '08, the hour went to the Knight Rider reboot, which hung on to it for a little less than a full season before giving way to completely DOA reality effort The Chopping Block and some L&O repeats. 2009-10 had more stability with nurse drama Mercy running there mostly but it averaged only about a 1.6 and didn't last into a season 2. Fall 2010 sees new JJ Abrams spy dramedy Undercovers which seems pretty likely to at least improve on Mercy.

In '07-'08, they tried comedy in this hour with Back to You and 'Til Death. The pair got interrupted by both American Idol and the huge launch of game show Moment of Truth but returned towards the end of the season to fairly mediocre results. Back to You was axed and 'Til Death barely survived but moved to the 9:00 hour while Bones was here in fall '08. Bones headed to Thursday in early '09 and a similar show called Lie to Me was tried in this slot for several weeks in spring '09. It also got renewed but moved to Monday and the second night of a regular-season So You Think You Can Dance ran in fall 2009, followed in the spring by a combo of Idol and Human Target. Human Target was, you guessed it, renewed but moved elsewhere, and in fall 2010 the net offers a pastiche of Lie to Me, Hell's Kitchen, and playoff baseball.

America's Top Model is the show that has defined this timeslot for the CW's entire existence and well back into the UPN days and will continue to do so in 2010-11. Its cycles averaged a 2.65 and 2.54 in W18-34 in 2009-10. Between cycles, the slot has been home to reality dud Crowned in '07-'08, another reality failure 13: The Fear is Real and repeats of drama Privileged in '08-'09, and repeats of Life Unexpected in 2010.

Survivor (fall) - 3.43 average (-10% from last year), 3.9 premiere (+8%)
Survivor (spring) - 3.25 average (-17%), 3.6 premiere (-20%) - highly unlikely it will be as good a season as Heroes vs. Villains, plus possibly going up against Idol means this could be a rough cycle
Undercovers - 2.50 average, 3.1 premiere
Lie to Me - 2.22 average (-19% from last year's regular season run Mondays 9/8c), 2.4 premiere (-17%)
The Middle - 2.20 average (-4%), 2.4 premiere (-8%) - along with Modern Family, they were two of the few shows doing season-average numbers or better late into the spring, but the inherent hit of a move to 8pm plus Survivor's arrival will hurt the chances for growth
Better with You - 2.20 average, 2.6 premiere

America's Next Top Model (fall) - 2.50 W18-34 average (-9%), 2.6 premiere (-4%)
America's Next Top Model (spring) - 2.25 W18-34 average (-10%), 2.4 premiere (-11%)

Maybe Survivor; was utterly obsessed with the show early in its run, gave it up for awhile, loved the Heroes vs. Villains season last spring, but not sure if my interest is strong enough for an "all-new" season. I try to sample almost all new shows just out of curiosity, and Undercovers and Better with You will not be exceptions. So anywhere between 0 and 2.5 hours for me in this timeslot! You?

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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