Monday, November 29, 2010

Scheduling Five-Spot, Extra #1 - Last Year's Midseason Moves

I knew when I started these Five-Spots about a month ago that, with the holiday season looming, it might be tough to find five good scheduling stories per week. Here we are, kicking off just the fourth week of these things, and I've already run across a week where there's literally almost nothing worth reporting in terms of network scheduling tweaks. So I thought that since I've had midseason schedules on the brain lately, thanks to Fox and NBC making some big-time changes, I'd take a look back at some of the most notable midseason moves from this time last year and how they worked out.

V After Lost - ABC's V premiered huge in November 2009, but it'd dropped about 40% of that by the end of its four-episode "pod" and a clearly cautious ABC opted to put the show after Lost. The show didn't do very well, largely putting up some low 2's, but that was good enough on top-heavy ABC to eke out a renewal for 2010-11. It returns for another midseason Tuesday run on January 4, 2011, but it won't have the Lost lead-in this time. It's hard to be optimistic, but officially the jury is still out.

Undercover Boss Breaks Out - The biggest midseason surprise of 2009-10 was just how big Undercover Boss was both in its post-Super Bowl series premiere (16.2 demo, easily the best since Grey's Anatomy's 16.5 four years prior) and in the episodes immediately following (including a 5.0+ demo in three of the first six regularly scheduled episodes). And it was quite a controversial post-SB pick at the time! It remains a pretty brilliant fix to the Sunday night schedule that had been CBS' Achilles heel for several years.

The "Lenopocalypse" - Probably the #1 story of 2009-10 was NBC's late night turmoil, and in midseason 2010 primetime that meant filling the many 10/9c timeslots vacated by the Jay Leno Show. The five choices were Law & Order, Parenthood, Law & Order: SVU, The Marriage Ref, and Dateline. None of those new occupants were big successes, but at least they mostly made improvements on Leno. This fall, though, as you know if you've been following Demos Year-to-Year, even improving on Leno has been a challenge.

A Moving Human Target - As noted on my First Two Weeks post on Human Target last season, the Fox drama newbie aired its first four episodes in four different timeslots and got a particularly rough break when the NFL stripped it of its football lead-in. The show eventually fizzled into, ratings-wise, what I felt was one of 2009-10's "worst" renewals, and the show's first couple data points this season haven't exactly proven that feeling wrong. We'll see what happens when it gets the Idol lead-in this season.

Shift Unexpected - The CW chose to premiere their only scripted midseason show, Life Unexpected, on Mondays after One Tree Hill. The catch was that it would eventually head for 8:00 so Gossip Girl could return to its regular 9:00 timeslot. But it held up almost perfectly at 8:00. Perhaps a bit of the credit could go to the fact that it lost its regular Wednesday encore airings, but it managed to eke out a renewal. It's promptly turned into one of the net's biggest flops of the 2010-11 season.

More Five-Spots can be found in the Index.

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