Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Upfront Questions: NBC

Part two of the upfront preview is the SCHEDULE-centric portion, examining the big-picture scheduling questions each network faces on each night in the final week before its upfront.

On each night, you can see the network's average 2015-16 ratings with its most frequent occupant in three different sub-sections of the year: "fall" (premiere week through December 31), "winter" (January 1 to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time) and "spring" (the start of DST through Thursday, May 5). You can also switch from the A18-49 ratings to the True ratings, which should make the comparisons across nights and across the season a bit more fair.

Last week's Power Rankings were the SHOW-centric portion, drilling more into the merits of individual shows: NBC Power Rankings

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


fallThe Voice FallBlindspot2.85
winterSuperstoreTelenovelaThe Biggest Loser1.12
springThe Voice SpringBlindspot2.12

Question: Which drama gets the best slot on the network?

This is NBC's big Monday question pretty much every year. I'll sit out offering up a concrete answer, because I'm not really up on the pilots. But one thing should be clear: it's not Blindspot. That show had a very promising fall but fell to the low end of the renewal hierarchy by the end of the season.

Another big question is what NBC does during The Voice's hiatus, but that may not get answered at the upfront. The Biggest Loser really disappointed in winter 2016, and Superstore ought to be back in the mix long before January. So this may be a big overhaul. All we'll really know is it will come from the pool of stuff that is picked up but not on the fall sked.


fallThe Voice Tue FallChicago Fire2.54
winterHollywood Game NightChicago MedChicago Fire1.48
springThe Voice Tue SpringChicago MedChicago Fire1.85

Question: Will NBC mess with Tuesday success?

 A year ago, NBC slotted the very shaky-looking Heartbeat (then called Heartbreaker) in the Tuesday 9/8c slot. Fortunately, that didn't end up working out, and it went to the third prong in Dick Wolf's line of Chicago-set dramas. Chicago Med has impressed, especially compared to the comedies that aired in the 9:00 hour last year. Has it impressed enough to set out on its own? NBC's had a lot of turnover in the post-Voice hours, trying to get as many things to stick as possible while the iron is still hot. But Med may have hit the sweet spot that could get a show to stay here.


fallThe Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.42
winterThe Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.53
springHeartbeatLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.18

Question: Is there finally a better Wednesday option than The Mysteries of Laura?

The Mysteries of Laura held up rather well in season two, and the failure of Heartbeat in its vacated timeslot has only led people to look on it with even more favor. But in reality, it's still toward the low end of NBC's weeknight occupants; whether Laura gets renewed or not, the network should look to be improving its third hour on this night. NBC has a lot more options this time than it did coming off the disastrous 2014-15 newbie class; we could see anything from a new drama to a Superstore-led comedy hour all the way to a big Chicago series move, in the event that NBC shakes up Tuesday.

Like last year, a complicating factor is whether Fox moves Empire into the 8/7c hour. NBC's in the unfortunate position of being the only network that has to release its schedule before that outcome is revealed.


fallHeroes RebornThe BlacklistThe Player1.23
winterYou, Me and the ApocalypseThe BlacklistShades of Blue1.14
springStrongThe BlacklistGame of Silence0.90

Question: Will NBC pair The Blacklist with more proven players?

NBC ended up cycling through three new series in each of the hours surrounding The Blacklist. Of those six shows, one was pretty successful (Shades of Blue), one was a front-loaded but reasonable timeslot occupant (Heroes Reborn) and four bombed. Not a great result. But coming off of a far better new class, the network should be better positioned to move in something with some kind of track record. Little Big Shots, Celebrity Apprentice, Blindspot, Shades of Blue and a Superstore-led comedy hour and could all be in the mix.


fallUndateableTruth Be ToldGrimmDateline Fri0.86
winterCaught on CameraGrimmDateline Fri0.93
springCaught on CameraGrimmDateline Fri0.84

Question: Will Friday get some help from NBC's deeper returnee roster?

It's basically the same situation as on Wednesday and Thursday; NBC has a lot more decent returning pieces floating around, and big decisions to about how to slot them across their weakest nights. This little-viewed night will deservedly be on the low end of that totem pole, but even something like The Mysteries of Laura could help the Friday situation more than Undateable did this year. Another possibility is that the network is so down on Blindspot after its spring struggles that it slides all the way to this night for season two. (That's a bit too nuclear an option for my tastes, especially since The Blacklist seems potentially compatible.)


fallSports: Football Night in America p3Sports: Sunday Night Football7.11
winterDateline SunMovie Night0.73
springLittle Big ShotsThe Carmichael ShowCrowdedDateline Sun1.29

Question: Will we learn anything about midseason Sunday?!

NBC typically doesn't get into the Sunday entertainment programming game until March, and quite a lot of season plays out before that. So unless it's something with a clear fit, it's probably better to wait on a Sunday sked. Two years ago, the network had the big A.D The Bible Continues event (with its connection to the Easter holiday) to announce at the upfronts. But last year, Little Big Shots didn't get its Sunday timeslot until January.

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