Friday, September 2, 2011

22 Fall TV Matchups, Friday 9/8c

Today, my fall preview looks at Friday 9/8c. The end of scripted TV on Friday nights might seem an inevitability, but it's not here yet. You need only look at the genre logjam at 9/8c for proof.

This timeslot rated difficult in 2010-11. All shows airing in the hour had noticeably negative Sitches (typically -10% to -15%), though not quite as negative as timeslots like Thursday 8/7c and Friday 8/7c.

In fall 2008, ABC plugged in Supernanny, which was coming off a very solid midseason year as writer's strike bait. That show moved down to the 8:00 slot the next fall and in stepped the beginning of the final season of Ugly Betty which was basically a ratings disaster, so after its move to Wednesday the net went with a potpourri of reality options including Shark Tank and Primetime: What Would You Do? In 2010-11, What Would You Do? got a full year in the hour and saw major declines by season's end. ABC slated the third season of Shark Tank for the hour at the upfront, but they've since bumped Shark Tank to midseason and (following several weeks of new show encores) plan to go with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition both here and at 8/7c.

This historically troublesome timeslot for CBS hit a true low in fall 2008 with female-targeting flop The Ex-List pulled after just four episodes. Some repeats and then Canadian import Flashpoint filled in. For 2009-10 CBS brought in axed NBC drama Medium, which was more in line with the other two shows on the night than most previous options, even if the drops of those other two shows helped with that. Medium was the only show of CBS' Friday lineup to return, but it headed to 8:00 while veteran CSI: NY came in and did decent work at 9:00. It returns for a second Friday season this year. It averaged a 1.75 demo in 2010-11.

For the last few years, the primary option here has been the first half of a two-hour edition of Dateline NBC. The 2008-09 was the last season they seriously tried anything else. In fall 2008 it was fantasy newbie Crusoe which posted anemic results and was shipped to Saturday. In stepped Lipstick Jungle for December and January which had bombed in two 10:00 timeslots already and kept on bombing at 9. For the first half of '09 it was a return to previous occupant Friday Night Lights (the first season to initially air on DirecTV) and more two-hour Dateline. Though it initially seemed NBC was going more aggressive in 2009-10 with drama Southland, it got axed before season 2 even began and Dateline ran again in this slot for most of the next two seasons. NBC once again promises some aggression in fall 2011 with scripted newbie Grimm, but don't be a bit surprised if Dateline ends up back here sooner rather than later.

Fox seems to have developed a recent tradition of moving Thursday cast-offs over to this Friday timeslot. First, Thursday game show Don't Forget the Lyrics! made a move here in originals for fall 2008 but was replaced in the winter by sci-fi newbie Dollhouse, which returned in fall of 2009 despite disastrous season 1 results. The results got even more anemic in season 2, so that show got canned and for much of the second half of the season the choice was previous Thursday effort Kitchen Nightmares. Fox then tried its summer scripted show The Good Guys here for fall 2010 before pushing Kitchen Nightmares to 8/7c and bringing Thursday refugee Fringe over to the evening at 9/8c. That two-hour block did well enough to return intact this fall. Fringe averaged a 1.64 demo last season (but just a 1.47 in its Friday episodes).

For the first two years of the CW's existence they had the back half of Friday Night Smackdown! for this slot. The net gave up control of the UPN mainstay for '08-'09 and brought another tentpole, the encore of America's Next Top Model, to Friday night. Original episodes of reality flop 13: The Fear is Real were burned off here between ANTM cycles. The ANTM encore returned for 2009-10 alongside the occasional Smallville repeat, but last season the net finally shed itself of that piece of programming in favor of a regularly scheduled original in this hour, Supernatural. It averaged a 0.99 demo on Friday last season and returns for a second Friday run in 2011-12.

Syfy enters its second season broadcasting former UPN/CW/MyNet franchise Friday Night Smackdown! It's usually a little shy of a 1.0 demo on Syfy, but that's enough to be a factor on this night

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - 1.60
CSI: NY - 1.52 (-13%)
Grimm - 1.11
Fringe - 1.45 (-12%)
Supernatural - 0.89 (-10%)

My top interest is Fringe, but I'll give Grimm a try too. You?

Previous Friday 9/8c posts: 2009 | 2010

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