Wednesday, August 24, 2011

22 Fall TV Matchups, Wednesday 8/7c

Today, my fall preview looks at Wednesday 8/7c. This was one of the weakest timeslots on TV for several years, but the double-whammy arrivals of Survivor and American Idol last season have actually transformed it into one of the toughest.

This timeslot rated difficult in 2010-11. Almost all shows leading off the night had noticeably negative Sitches. The arrival of Fox's X Factor could make it even more difficult in 2011-12.

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. Comedies Scrubs and Better Off Ted filled in and struggled to hit a 2.0. Then in fall came the advent of ABC's successful Wednesday comedy night, but it's been a struggle finding a companion for 8:00 tentpole The Middle, which averaged a 2.44 demo last season. Hank in 2009 was a major bomb and gone quickly for Modern Family or Middle repeats. Better with You was not quite as bomby but didn't survive to season two. This fall, it's a third new show to join The Middle in Suburgatory.

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 managed to hang on for two full seasons. After the 2009-10 season, CBS axed both shows and moved its third comedy hour to Thursdays, while Survivor ended a run of nearly a decade on Thursday night and returned to Wednesday where it began in summer 2000. Its 2010-11 seasons averaged a 3.66 and 3.28 demo.

NBC's had Wednesday troubles for several years now, and it all starts at 8:00. 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 Law & Order repeats. 2009-10 had more stability with nurse drama Mercy running there mostly but it didn't last into a season 2. Fall 2010's JJ Abrams spy dramedy Undercovers severely disappointed so NBC shifted to Minute to Win It in early 2011. Minute to Win It started well enough here but got destroyed when American Idol arrived. NBC reverts to comedy in this hour for fall 2011, the first time they've had comedy here since 30 Rock's low-rated launch in 2006. This time, it's newbies Up All Night and Free Agents. Good luck.

Bones was here for much of its early run, including fall 2008, but it 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 American Idol and Human Target. Hell's Kitchen and Human Target filled the timeslot in fall 2010 before the return of Idol. Idol will be back, and in the fall they'll go with heavily hyped reality newbie The X Factor.

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. The show finally briefly aired elsewhere last spring, when CW moved it to 9/8c to minimize its exposure to Idol. It remains in the 9:00 hour this fall as CW goes with reality newbie H8R in a timeslot jam-packed with reality. Again... good luck.

The Middle - 2.33 (-5% from last year)
Suburgatory - 2.25 - Seems like ABC's best fit yet with The Middle.
Survivor (fall) - 3.33 (-9%)
Up All Night - 1.70 - If the show gets these numbers, I think NBC will probably try it on Thursday as they did with 30 Rock in this hour in '06.
Free Agents - 1.36
The X Factor - 4.01
H8R - 0.40

Survivor. I'll give the comedies airing in this hour a whirl, but I can't commit to any of them at this moment. You?

Previous Wednesday 8/7c posts: 2009 | 2010

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