Thursday, September 9, 2010

22 Hours, Thursday 9/8c

Today, my fall preview looks at Thursday 9/8c. In fall 2006, the Thursday landscape completely changed thanks to ABC bringing Sunday hit Grey's Anatomy over to the night. CSI dominated this hour for the first half of the decade but last season was lucky to even come in second in the 9:00 half-hour.

Grey's Anatomy came to the slot in fall '06 and dominated staple CSI in the demo, but its declines the past couple years have been hefty. It's still the favorite to win the hour because CSI has done more than its fair share of declining as well. It posted a 4.82 original average in 2009-10.

The eye has long offered the father of its crime drama family CSI in this timeslot and will continue to do so for 2010-11 even though many (including myself in the aforementioned 2009 post) thought a swap with The Mentalist was nigh. Perhaps it only ekes out a 10th season in the hour so they didn't have to move all three CSIs at once. It hasn't been the same since the departure of William Petersen, averaging just a 3.28 demo last season, down more than 30% from 2008-09.

The peacock opened up '06-'07 with Deal or No Deal in the slot but soon abandoned it in favor of a second hour of what they called "Comedy Night Done Right," and it's been almost all comedy ever since. The only time NBC has shrunk this block since then in the regular season was for the writer's strike run of The Celebrity Apprentice in early 2008. The block was initially top-heavy with the 8:00 hour doing pretty well and the 9:00 combo of Scrubs and 30 Rock really struggling, so NBC got a little bolder in fall '07 by moving The Office to anchor the second hour, which it's done ever since. Scrubs was the first post-Office occupant at 9:30 but was switched with 30 Rock, which peaked early in 2008-09 and stayed in the timeslot through the end of the 2009-10 season. The 9:30 slot briefly went to newbie Community last fall for some post-Office sampling. This fall's new comedy Outsourced gets a better deal than Community did, as there's no expiration date on its 9:30 run.

ABC and CBS have offered staples in this timeslot, but Fox has certainly not. Don't Forget the Lyrics! debuted in summer '07 and nailed down the timeslot safely for all of '07-'08 but it and 5th Grader were moved to Fridays in fall '08 and Fox went with a run of Kitchen Nightmares which did much worse than its fall '07 sleeper success on Wednesday. For winter and spring of '09 the net went with Hell's Kitchen which was a marked improvement on Nightmares. Kitchen Nightmares saw a little more action in this hour during 2009-10 show, but the primary option was sci-fi drama Fringe, which took a big hit in its move to the night (2.34 average in 2009-10) but it returns to the hour for 2010-11.

The CW has aired Supernatural here since the net's inception, but as part of the net's "deprioritize shows that males watch" initiative, it heads to Friday for fall 2010 where big ratings drops are inevitable. Newbie Nikita takes over in this hour, and it premieres tonight (9/9).

Grey's Anatomy - 4.11 average (-15% from last year), 6.0 premiere (-10%) - Aside from the post-Super Bowl Glee episode, if it actually scores a 6.0ish it could be the highest-rated scripted episode of the year.
The Office - 3.68 average (-7%), 3.7 premiere (-10%) - Many have written the show off creatively, but with the Carell departure, this is not the year this show tanks.
CSI - 2.84 average (-13%), 3.6 premiere (-12%)
Outsourced - 2.52 average, 3.3 premiere
Fringe - 2.12 average (-9%), 2.5 premiere (-17%)

Nikita - 2.20 W18-34 average, 2.7 premiere - Looking for it to retain around 85% of the Vampire Diaries in The CW Demo, which would be a win.
The Office and maybe Outsourced. Most likely Fringe. And I'll try out Nikita. You?

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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