I threw the notion of "timeslot difficulty" into my 22 Fall TV Matchups this year because I was fresh off the True Strength project and wanted a way to use it in the matchups posts. Next year, I'll probably make it a bit more formal (perhaps with a rubric ala the War of 18-49 Updates) and maybe try to take lead-in influence out of the mix. For now, I thought I'd list how the 22 hours (actually 18, since I didn't do difficulty for Sunday 7/6c or any of Saturday) stacked up in terms of my difficulty ratings:
I see a couple takeaways here:
1) The 10:00 hour: is it the shows or the timeslot? Admittedly, this will be something worth looking harder at with a season full of half-hour breakdowns and perhaps more shows that aired a lot both at 10:00 and not-at-10:00 (there were very few of those this year). Perhaps my competition adjustment for 10:00 is not enough. For now, I tend to stand by the notion that these 10:00 timeslots are relatively easy and "it's the shows." Is there anything currently airing at 10:00 that would be some kind of huge hit at 9:00? I'm skeptical. And a show like Law & Order: SVU did very similar work at 9:00 and 10:00. (Though I guess some would claim that's evidence 10:00 is much tougher since SVU is "a 10:00 show," to revisit that old dumb meme.) Will be interesting to see how something like CSI transitions to 10:00 this year.
2) The two toughest hours are tough in very different ways. Friday 8/7c is most notable for being the lowest-viewed hour in which there are multiple networks really making an effort. Thursday 8/7c is the lowest-viewed hour of the five weeknights (except Sunday 7/6c) and yet it's quite competitive with CBS and Fox each having among their very strongest shows there. I do find it interesting that the Thursday timeslot was tougher than even the last two hours on Friday; in other words, if you moved The Big Bang Theory and its 4.00 demo to Friday 9/8c or 10/9c, I'd actually expect it to do better than its 4.00 18-49 average in its current timeslot. Would that really happen? Hard to say.