Today, my fall preview looks at Sunday 9/8c. Desperate Housewives premiered in this hour on ABC in fall 2004 and a megahit - and timeslot definer - was born. But over the last couple years it's occasionally lost to offerings on all three other networks, and now it returns for one last season.
This timeslot rated easy in 2010-11. Most shows in the timeslot had noticeably positive Sitches thanks to the high viewing levels. Most of the players here in 2011-12 are familiar, so the difficulty should remain about the same (if not a bit easier with The Good Wife).
Desperate Housewives, despite being in an almost continual decline since season 2, enters its eighth and final season in this hour and will probably still post ratings worthy of a renewal. It averaged a 3.46 demo in 2010-11.
After airing its first three seasons in the Sunday 8:00 hour, veteran drama Cold Case got moved to 9:00 in the fall of 2006. It would stay there for almost all of the next three years but was moved to the final hour of the night on a couple occasions in 2009-10, first for disastrous medical newbie Three Rivers. As predicted in the 2009 post, it returned to 9:00, but that was short-lived as it headed back to 10:00 to make way for reality newbie Undercover Boss. Coming off the best post-Super Bowl program numbers in several years, Boss was a force in its short spring 2010 season and remained quite solid in 2010-11, though it fizzled in its last couple 2011 airings. The Boss moves to midseason while CBS looks to relaunch The Good Wife in this timeslot.
Animated offering Family Guy has a checkered past that has been well documented and 2006-07 was the first time in the show's existence that it actually aired an entire season of originals starting in September and ending in May, something that's standard procedure for most shows. It has held down the 9:00 timeslot ever since, averaging a 3.57 last season, and will continue there for 2011-12. Its lead-out across these last four years has generally been another animated show American Dad!, which returns this season after a 2.25 original average in 2010-11 (that average includes a bunch of 7:30/6:30c airings). The 9:30 half-hour was briefly used for the third show in the Seth Macfarlane empire, The Cleveland Show last season. It's also been home to a slew of failed live action comedies, most recently Sons of Tucson late in the 2009-10 season.
Of course, this net has Sunday Night Football going strong in the fall. It was the top show on TV last season with a 7.88 demo average. The peacock found a nice Sunday spring football replacement in 2009 by bringing in two hour editions of The Celebrity Apprentice. That show should return to the hour in early 2012. It averaged a 2.82 demo last season.
As last fall, there's a big pay cable showdown here between HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Showtime's Dexter. Also throwing a potential wrench into this timeslot is season two of AMC's The Walking Dead, which had huge ratings last year.
Desperate Housewives - 3.33 (-4%) - Since this show has dropped so sharply, I'm less confident than with some other shows, but history says final season announcements often slow (maybe even stop) the bleeding.
The Good Wife - 2.00 (-10%)
Sunday Night Football - 7.96 (-4%)
Family Guy - 3.36 (-6%)
American Dad! - 2.07 (-9%) - The current Fox midseason sked has Dad! making another move into the 7:00 hour in early 2012.
WHAT I'M WATCHING
I've made it this far, so I may as well stick out Desperate Housewives to the end now. I'll also be anticipating The Walking Dead in October. You?
Previous Sunday 8/7c posts: 2009 | 2010