We are still more than two months from the first series premiere of the 2011-12 broadcast season (SIGH), but I am gonna start talking about the fall a little bit here, because something really stuck out to me in the recent premiere date announcements. Here are the premiere dates for all the new scripted shows in fall 2011:
Ringer - September 13, 9/8c, CW
Up All Night - September 14, 10/9c, NBC
Free Agents - September 14, 10:30/9:30c, NBC
The Secret Circle - September 15, 9/8c, CW
2 Broke Girls - September 19, 9:30/8:30c, CBS
The Playboy Club - September 19, 10/9c, NBC
New Girl - September 20, 9/8c, Fox
Unforgettable - September 20, 10/9c, CBS
Revenge - September 21, 10/9c, ABC
Charlie's Angels - September 22, 8/7c, ABC
Person of Interest - September 22, 9/8c, CBS
Whitney - September 22, 9:30/8:30c, NBC
Prime Suspect - September 22, 10/9c, NBC
A Gifted Man - September 23, 8/7c, CBS
Pan Am - September 25, 10/9c, ABC
Terra Nova - September 26, 8/7c, Fox
Hart of Dixie - September 26, 9/8c, CW
Suburgatory - September 28, 8:30/7:30c, ABC
How to Be a Gentleman - September 29, 8:30/7:30c, CBS
Last Man Standing - October 11, 8/7c, ABC
Man Up! - October 18, 8:30/7:30c, ABC
Grimm - October 21, 9/8c, NBC
Once Upon a Time - October 23, 8/7c, ABC
Allen Gregory - October 30, 8:30/7:30c, Fox
I Hate My Teenage Daughter - November 23, 9:30/8:30c, Fox
The main reason I'm posting this is because it is so incredibly different from how the shows premiered last year. Just 11 of the 25 new fall scripted shows (44%) premiere during the traditional premiere week. Four (16%) premiere before the traditional premiere week and ten (40%) premiere after.
Compare that to last year. In fall 2010, there were 21 new fall shows, and 16 of them (76%) premiered during the traditional premiere week. Of the five that didn't, three (14%, Hellcats, Nikita and Outlaw) premiered before premiere week and only two (10%, No Ordinary Family and Law & Order: LA) premiered after. Both of the ones that premiered after were in the second week of the regular season, then there were no more scripted premieres until Bob's Burgers in January. The month of October, which is slated to see five premieres this season, went entirely unused.
Also notable, there's only one overlap between series premieres this fall: Whitney and the second half of Person of Interest in the 9:30/8:30c half hour on September 22. And those seem like pretty different shows. Compare that to the many cases of overlap in 2010: Lone Star/The Event/Mike & Molly, Hawaii Five-0/Chase, Better with You/Undercovers, The Whole Truth/The Defenders, My Generation/$#*! My Dad Says. Now, a lot of those are not necessarily natural audience overlaps either, but there are a few that might have been: I'm thinking Lone Star/The Event, Hawaii Five-0/Chase, The Whole Truth/The Defenders. And in just about each of those overlap cases, at least one show was completely DOA or well below expectations.
I don't particularly think it's a coincidence that the series premiere landscape is so different this season. As I said quite often last season, 2010-11 was a really bad season for new scripted shows. And frankly, you could've made that judgment during premiere week, when only one new show ($#*! My Dad Says) broke a 4.0 demo, and even that one was already losing a big chunk of its lead-in. How much of that was that all the shows were scheduled against each other and against the premieres of all the veterans? I'm not saying it's the main reason; I think most agree it was an underwhelming year for the newbies creatively. But cramming everything into the same week probably didn't help. Spreading things out should help with promotion and with keeping competition levels a little lower; and I haven't even touched on midseason, for which a surprisingly high volume of big-name projects have been held. Seems smart to me.