The links below in each category are to the old theme posts (most 2006-12), but I will update these links as the new theme posts come out over the course of the summer.
Defining Shows/Overall Thoughts:
The year after the writers' strike was a return to scheduling normalcy (well, aside from that election thing), and much of the primetime ratings landscape went back into the patterns that had been coming into focus in the last year before the strike. But there were clearly some sea changes percolating.
The two networks most hurt within the writer's strike year were ABC and CBS, because their schedules were most reliant on scripted programming. But the year after the strike set these networks on very different paths, and one could argue the two nets haven't really gone off those paths ever since. We'll start with CBS, for whom almost all the news was good in the post-strike world. After a couple rough "in-between" years, CBS launched the multi-pronged surge toward the strong schedule they have now. It was a really good year across the board for their most important anchors of today: How I Met Your Mother (107 -> 134), sophomore The Big Bang Theory (99 -> 127), Two and a Half Men (151 -> 171), NCIS (102 -> 122) and Criminal Minds (111 -> 121). They also had one of the season's biggest new shows, The Mentalist (126), though that ended up being a smaller part of CBS' story than it seemed at the time. The only real misstep was their return to a third comedy hour with The New Adventures of Old Christine (69) and Gary Unmarried (74), but even that helped the network support a growing comedy inventory while they were building a truly worthy third anchor.
Meanwhile, ABC's previous generation of hits was also aging; it was clear at this point that Grey's Anatomy (192) and Desperate Housewives (177) were past their primes. But unlike CBS, ABC didn't seem to have much of anything trending in the right direction (aside from The Bachelor (138), which had its first major come-back-from-the-dead season). Though ABC did salvage Private Practice (110) by moving it after Grey's at midseason, the other freshman drama renewals of the strike year totally collapsed, from Dirty Sexy Money (88 -> 64) to Pushing Daisies (98 -> 60) to Eli Stone (75 -> 57). And while the new class did include the ultimately long-running Castle, it made little impact out of the gate (81), and the rest of the newbies pretty much bombed.
There were two networks that "benefited" from the strike year, Fox and NBC, because they were less reliant on scripted programming. Those two networks pretty much went right back into their pre-strike patterns; Fox returned to the low-120's network average that characterized most of its prime years, while NBC returned to the 80ish average of its bottoming-out period. Fox rearranged some of its signature shows, putting House (175) on Monday for good and Bones (97) into a Thursday anchor role. Meanwhile, NBC was in the Ben Silverman age, attempting to come up with ways to massively cut costs. Most notable this year was their attempt to circumvent the traditional (and expensive) pilot process with a bunch of straight-to-series orders. It was mostly a spectacular failure; only late-season The Office sister show Parks and Recreation survived to season two.
Hits: Fringe (135), The Mentalist (126)
Solid: Lie to Me (112), Worst Week (104)
Sub-solid renewals: Castle (81), Parks and Recreation (79), Gary Unmarried (76), Better off Ted (59), Dollhouse (49)
Renews by network: Fox 3, ABC 2, CBS 2, NBC 1
Only three of the eight renewals (the bottom three) were axed after season two, which is good. But only The Mentalist and Castle were really able to emerge as long-term solid players, and neither was a long-term hit. Overall, a very weak season.
The year after the strike saw NBC and Fox roughly return to their 2006-07 levels. But the new directions for ABC and CBS were clear, as ABC returned six points behind 2006-07 (and just two points ahead of the strike year!) while CBS went four points ahead of that year.
Days of the Week:
Tuesday had sorta backed into the day-of-the-week lead in 2007-08 because it was least affected by the strike. But it earned the lead this time. Fox had Idol and House leading into decent-rated newbie Fringe. NBC had the last year of the pairing between The Biggest Loser and Law and Order: SVU, and the spring season was one of TBL's strongest. But perhaps most significant was the rise of CBS, long-troubled on this night, thanks to NCIS' pairing with hot newbie The Mentalist.
Time of Day:
The 10:00 hour had a bit of a post-strike rally, but it didn't get anywhere near all the way back to where it was in the years before the strike, and it had nowhere to go but down from this point.
*- I don't have the half-hour breakdowns entered for 2006-07 thru 2009-10, so for now I will break these seasons down by hour rather than by half-hour. They'll probably be a bit off, since two-hour telecasts won't be broken out exactly right, but they're close enough to get a good general idea by hour.
Repeats & Sports/Specials:
2001-02 | 2002-03 | 2003-04 | 2004-05 | 2005-06 | 2006-07 | 2007-08 | 2008-09 | 2009-10 | 2010-11 | 2011-12 | 2012-13 | 2013-14 | 2014-15