Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 Upfront Questions, The CW


Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, as I examine the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront. I've always favored laying out the possibilities rather than creating an actual mock schedule; this seems to set me up better to review the schedule next week without making it all about how my own prediction/recommendation did.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, in which I drilled more into the merits of individual shows: CW True Power Rankings

Other Upfront Questions: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW




MONDAY

2012-13 Schedule
8:00 - 90210 / The Carrie Diaries / Oh Sit!
9:00 - Gossip Girl / 90210

Question: Does the CW's new direction mean they won't surrender Monday anymore?

For most of the last half decade, the CW weeknights have pretty much just been The Vampire Diaries and a bunch of heavily female-skewing soaps. Given that landscape, Monday seemed a natural fit for a "Surrender Night." The soaps didn't match up well with Monday competitors like The Voice, The Bachelor and the ABC Family programming, so why not put the weaker ones on this night and just take the hit?

Though I've talked for two years about how weak Tuesdays are, I now wonder if Monday is a better candidate for CDub aggression. Mostly I wonder that because the network already has a returning player that could simply stay on Tuesday (Hart of Dixie), while they're essentially forced into starting from scratch on Monday either way. And "Genre Night #3" might actually be a decent counter-programming option here.



TUESDAY

2012-13 Schedule
8:00 - Hart of Dixie
9:00 - Emily Owens M.D. / Cult

Question: Did Hart of Dixie do enough in season two to retain a weeknight anchor role?

"In a vacuum," probably not, just like "in a vacuum" Beauty and the Beast shouldn't be renewed. But because of how the CW is currently constructed, with three shows rating miles ahead of the rest, the marginal Hart of Dixie is pretty decisively its network's fourth-strongest show. Unless they spread themselves very thin with a flood of genre shows, Hart of Dixie and a low-rated returnee like Beauty and the Beast or (less likely) The Carrie Diaries might be the best way for the network to fill the seventh and eighth hours.



WEDNESDAY

2012-13 Schedule
8:00 - Arrow
9:00 - Supernatural

Question: Across how many nights does the CW stretch its "Big Four"?

The other CW questions are nice, but this is the network's big kahuna. Maybe I'm underestimating some other new show, but I feel the network has exactly four shows that should be ranked well above the rest: The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Supernatural and The Originals (in that order). In The Originals' case, it's probably putting the cart before the horse, but I would think there'd be at least some interest out of the gate, much like how I felt about Arrow last year.

So how does the CW use this "big four"? There are the two extremes:

1. Swing for the fences and put one on each of the four nights. Fox really peaked as a network when it moved American Idol in the 2010-11 season so they could set up their four anchors on four different nights: House, Glee, Idol Wednesday, Idol Thursday. Of course, none of the CDub's big four are really in those shows' class, and The Originals, y'know, hasn't actually aired an episode yet, so this seems a bit too brash for now.

And 2. They could truly consolidate their strength, putting all four on just two nights (Wednesday/Thursday). It'd be the best arrangement for those shows, but it leaves the marginal returnees and the other new shows to fend for themselves across Monday and Tuesday. Unless, again, I'm really underestimating one of the other new shows, this is a little too extreme for me as well. But the network is half-owned by the entity that squeezed five big hit comedies into three hours last year, so this is actually fairly likely.

My hope is the reality is somewhere in the middle:

3. Move one of the "Slightly Less Big Two" (Supernatural or The Originals) to a third night. It's probably more likely Supernatural moves to a third night than unproven The Originals.

Or my "pet idea," 4. Put the "Slightly Less Big Two" together on a third night. If they can't have their "ideal" pairings, at least putting them together might create some good mojo, and this would give the network its best shot at truly taking a third evening out of the "complete disaster" column. And it opens up "The Biggest Two" to lead into shows that have less ability to attract an audience on their own.

I'd do #4, but in terms of likelihood, I'm fairly confident it's either going to be #2 or #3, because they'll want to make sure The Originals has the best chance. Can't really blame them. If The Originals is legit and Supernatural continues to defy Nielsen gravity (or something else takes off), look out for #1 maybe a year from now.



THURSDAY

2012-13 Schedule
8:00 - The Vampire Diaries
9:00 - Beauty and the Beast

Question: The Originals or something more original?

This is basically just a continuation of the Wednesday thing, but I will add that if The Originals does end up on another night, I'd still preview it (or at least run encores for a week or two) on Thursday at the very beginning of the season.



FRIDAY

2012-13 Schedule
8:00 - America's Next Top Model / Nikita
9:00 - Nikita / Cult

Question: Is the CW on the verge of giving up on another night?

Nikita, if/when renewed, would officially become sort of the Fringe of the CW, a show that gets renewed at least once beyond the point of acceptable ratings, but at least it allows the network to say it's spending pretty big on a tough night. It may be gone by early 2014 if the short season rumors are true. So what then? We still don't know what Fox is going to do on its post-Fringe Friday, and Fox doesn't have the huge holes earlier in the week that the CDub does.

Unless the CW can really get the schedule stabilized in 2013-14, this night may well get downsized to a cheap filler/repeat haven for good. I can't say I think there's any scripted show not named Nikita that feels like it should really go here. But if Beauty and the Beast is placed on Friday, at least we'll know they're still somewhat "serious" about keeping a fifth night alive.

9 comments:

Spot said...

Monday
8:00 - Hart of Dixie
9:00 - Blink

Tuesday
8:00 - The Originals
9:00 - The 100

Wednesday
8:00 - Arrow
9:00 - Supernatural

Thursday
8:00 - The Vampire Diaries
9:00 - The Tomorrow People

Friday
8:00 - Nikita
9:00 - Beauty and the Beast

Midseason: Company Town, America's Next Top Model, The Selection, Reign

At this point I almost expect The Originals to end up behind The Vampire Diaries, much like Beverly Hills 90210 spinoff Melrose Place aired after its parent show in the '90s. But The Originals isn't an unknown show; it will have the highest awareness of any new CW show next season. I wouldn't squander it when that potential could be used for another new, unknown AND unproven show.

If Nikita is only getting a partial season, then I'd use one of the new miniseries-esque shows like Reign to sub in for it at midseason. Along those lines, I'd pull Top Model into midseason if Blink bombs.

I'd also be ok if Mondays and Tuesdays are flipped here, but to make a smoother flow of shows throughout the week I put the "sunnier" soap shows on Mondays.

Spot said...

I'm not even going to bother making my own schedule, because yours is basically what I had in mind. I might switch 100 and Tomorrow People, but other than that, we are simpatico. Of course, it does underscore what a useless renewal Beauty and the Beast was, but eh.

Spot said...

I am going quickly over the smaller questions:

- Friday: I don't think so to be honest, I think something scripted, besides Nikita, will go there.
- Tuesday: Weekday yes, anchoring pad no, it should be a lead-out.

- Monday: I agree that it is better to leave Tuesdays with Hart of Dixie and simply use Monday as genre 3.0, I don't see an obvious upside in doing it one way or the other, and this may minimize HoD's declines. I don't think it matters that much though but I have a preference for it to be this way.

On the other issue, the main one: I still disagree. Do you know the halo effect that you've talked about sometimes concerning how lead-outs influence lead-ins? The same way the middle falls when there is no new MF on the night, the same way bones went up during the strongest run of the following, and so and so forth? Well, it is my belief (although I have no way to prove it) that Arrow has somehow part of that effect with Supernatural. I would have liked for the cw to have aired it once without supernatural to see the result. I love the show personally but I am not as convinced of its strength as you are - it is still probably slightly stronger than supernatural, but i think that there are multiple synergies between both on the night. Take away one and you may or may not be able to replicate this effect. Let Wednesday be. Hit shows can launch out of themselves! It has been done before, it can be done again. Successful new shows have been launched one after the other. Have the strongest of the two leading out, but it can work. Promotional wise, it is actually easier as it can be promoted as a block whereas there is no promotional needed for Weds! I don't think I will be able to make up your mind, since you seem to be pretty set on the idea, and you will have it your way in the end most likely since I think they won't resist pairing up the tomorrow people with arrow and the hundred with supernatural, but I really would just pair the tomorrow people and the hundred together...We will have to agree to disagree.

As for the remaining day, the interesting thing is that if Oxygen is picked up, it seems like a perfect fit to beauty and the beast. On the other hand, if the selection is picked up (or Reign...grr) it seems like a powerful fit with hart of dixie. So it appears to me that which one out of beauty or hart ends up on fridays with nikita is a function not of them but of which 4th show is picked up, which is a very interesting situation.

Spot said...

Based on the idea that oxygen will be picked up and not the selection or reign:

Monday
[i]The Tomorrow People
The Hundred[/i]

Tuesday
Oxygen
Beauty and the Beast

Wednesday
Arrow
Supernatural

Thursday
The Vampire Diaries
The Originals

Friday
Hart of Dixie
Nikita

Spot said...

Monday
8:00 – Hart of Dixie
9:00 – New Drama


Hart of Dixie is a relatively stable show, and I think a new drama at least has a chance to do well at 9:00.


Tuesday
8:00 – Beauty and the Beast
9:00 – New Drama


I don't agree with the notion that Beauty and the Beast should go to Friday. Sure it's probably lead-in dependent, but we've never seen it air alone, so there's at least a chance it could do well anchoring a new night.


Wednesday
8:00 – Arrow
9:00 – Supernatural


This combo should definitely not be split up in my opinion. It is by far The CW's best night, so until one of the shows starts to fade, don't touch it.


Thursday
8:00 – The Vampire Diaries
9:00 – The Originals


Maybe The Originals will eventually gain an independent audience and be able to anchor a new night, but for now I think it needs to be in a protective slot and have time to grow.


Friday
8:00 – Nikita
9:00 – America's Next Top Model


Personally, I think The CW should give Friday back to its affiliates in the near future, but for next season, they should just put a low rated duo there.

Spot said...

Now, I think I would put Hart/Carrie together in the fall, move BatB over to Friday, and still just three of the five new shows in the fall.

Spot said...

TVLine is reporting that the carrie diaries will come midseason. Its renewal is the biggest shocker of the season to me. I really think we all need to start looking into 18-34 numbers, there is something else going on that we cannot fully capture here.

Spot said...

With the new information about the pickups:

I would just replace Nikita by The Carrie Diaries when the former is done running its order. However, I have no clue where to put Reign since it seems to be compatible only with Hart of Dixie or The Carrie Diaries, but there are no more free nights. Even if one of the newbies fail, I don't like the pairing it would create. So I am kind of at a loss here. The only other chance I see is:

Monday
The Tomorrow People
The Hundred


Tuesday
Reign
Hart of Dixie

Wednesday
Arrow
Supernatural

Thursday
The Vampire Diaries
The Originals

Friday
Beauty and The Beast
Nikita/The Carrie Diaries


With Oxygen being the one that is held until midseason to replace the failing drama. I actually like my previous schedule more because:
1) Chances are that Reign is that failing drama and the Oxygen/HoD pairing, although not awful like Cult/HoD is much less inspiring than Beauty and the Beast/Oxygen
2) Hart of Dixie will probably be able to perform slightly better on Fridays than Beauty and the Beast
3) The Beauty and the Beast/Carrie Diaries pairing is not inspiring IMO

Spot said...

Finally, The CW

Renewed:

Arrow
Beauty And The Beast
The Carrie Diaries

Hart Of Dixie
Nikita
Supernatural
The Vampire Diaries

Cancelled:
90210
Cult
Emily Owens, M.D.

Gossip Girl

Pilot Pick-ups:

The 100
Oxygen
Reign
The Tomorrow People

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