Sunday, September 12, 2010

22 Hours, Sunday 9/8c

Today, my fall preview looks at Sunday 9/8c. Desperate Housewives premiered in this hour on ABC in fall 2004 and a megahit - and timeslot definer - was born. It's used to losing to football in the hour, in the 2009-10 season an upstart on CBS often kept the long-running ABC drama out of the winner's circle even in the spring.

Desperate Housewives, despite being in an almost continual decline since season 2, will probably continue to do fine. It averaged a 4.25 in 2009-10 originals, down more than a point year-to-year. Its 2007-08 season was shortened due to the writer's strike so reality show Oprah's Big Give filled in for the typically low-repeating drama.

After airing its first three seasons in the Sunday 8:00 hour, veteran drama Cold Case got moved to 9:00 in the fall of '06. It would stay there for almost all of the next three years but was moved to the final hour of the night on a couple occasions in 2009-10, first for disastrous medical newbie Three Rivers. As predicted in the 2009 post, it returned to 9:00, but that was short-lived as it headed back to 10:00 to make way for reality newbie Undercover Boss.  Coming off the best post-Super Bowl program numbers in several years, Boss was a force in its short spring 2010 season and returns for fall 2010. It averaged a 4.59, and that isn't counting the 16.2/38 demo it got after the Super Bowl.

Animated offering Family Guy has a checkered past that has been well documented and 2006-07 was the first time in the show's existence that it actually aired an entire season of originals starting in September and ending in May, something that's standard procedure for most shows. It has held down the 9:00 timeslot ever since, averaging a 3.85 last season, and will continue there for 2010-11. Its lead-out across these last four years has generally been another animated show American Dad!, which returns this season after a 2.89 original average in 2009-10. But the 9:30 half-hour has also been home to a slew of failed live action comedies, including Unhitched toward the end of the strike-affected '07-'08 season and Sons of Tucson late last season. And it's slated to be the debut timeslot for animated newbie Bob's Burgers in midseason of 2010-11.

Of course, this net has Sunday Night Football going strong in the fall. The question has been what airs after football's over, with repeats of The Office and USA Network's Psych doing a lot of the lifting in writer's strike-hampered '08. But after starting the post-football run in '09 with some miniseries and specials, the peacock finally seemed to find something they could stick with in this hour in '09 by bringing in two hour editions of The Celebrity Apprentice. That show should return to the hour in early 2010. It averaged a 2.80 demo last season.

Showtime offers one of its signature dramas in Dexter starting in late September. HBO will go with the debut of absurdly expensive drama Boardwalk Empire.

Desperate Housewives, occasionally the NFL. You? 

Sunday Night Football - 7.80 average (-1% from last year)
Desperate Housewives - 3.74 average (-12%), 4.4 premiere (-6%)
Family Guy - 3.62 average (-6%), 4.8 premiere (-8%)

Undercover Boss - 3.29 average (-28%), 3.8 premiere (-27%)
American Dad! - 2.60 average (-10%), 3.4 premiere (-6%)

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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