Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 Upfront Answers: NBC

The schedule is coming, and with it the Upfront Answers!

NBC's upfront previews: Renewology | Upfront Questions

More Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


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Spot's Question: Has NBC already picked up its fall drama newbies?

Yes, because Law & Order True Crime had also been picked up as of the question being asked a week ago. The seemingly buzzy Rise will have to wait for midseason, where we'll probably see it get pretty big Winter Olympics promotion. The Brave (fka For God and Country) wins out for the Monday 10/9c berth as expected, and will try to be more of a Blindspot/Blacklist than either of this year's occupants.


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Spot's Question: How will NBC mess with Tuesday success?

They actually went with the biggest possible splash, sending This Is Us to another night! That re-opens The Voice as a lead-in yet again, and this time it goes to... a comedy that led off nights throughout its first two seasons. I'm skeptical that Superstore is still at a point where it can get meaningful help from this kind of placement, but it should be a reliably OK night. It very much feels like Tuesday and Thursday have switched roles. This is now the night on which NBC is looking to get by thanks to their considerable depth, while Thursday is the big swing.


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Spot's Question: What leads off on Wednesday?

This will remain NBC's obligatory "don't need to promote it much" night, with veteran The Blacklist stepping in for Blindspot and the two familiar occupants staying put. Much like Blindspot inheriting the slot from The Mysteries of Laura a year ago, it seems like a pretty lateral move, so I would think they could've just moved Blacklist to Friday and saved on a timeslot move. But it will be an interesting test for a heavily DVRed series in the 10:00 hour moving to 8:00; when Blindspot and NCIS: Los Angeles did that this year, we saw some overachievement in Live+SD ratings and much less delayed DVRing.


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Spot's Question: Is a Must See TV-esque lineup returning?

Oh yes. In fact, in the NBC media call they actually said they will be returning to an explicit use of the "Must See TV" brand name!! This Is Us will be the latest huge Thursday splash in the tradition of Grey's Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory. It's not being used as much of a "launch pad", leading into the Menendez Brothers limited series and then to Chicago Med at midseason. Meanwhile, struggling freshman Great News eked out not just a second season but a slot amid this vaunted company. It's clearly a show of faith to some extent, and perhaps it will be the next The Office in the end, but for now it just seems like a repudiation of the network's comedy development...

This Is Us moving to Thursday should have some interesting ramifications later in the upfront week, as well. Much like Empire's explosion may have caused CBS to keep Criminal Minds at 9/8c a couple years ago, the This Is Us move might discourage ABC from throwing a new drama after Grey's Anatomy. NBC is maybe the only broadcast network left that still follows the philosophy of what I call "negative scheduling," and this is another classic example.



Spot's Question: How will NBC re-invent Friday in a post-Grimm world?

NBC indeed went the scripted route, but is still trying to avoid much financial strain with Blindspot (it's been reported they got a great deal from WB) and Taken (a cheap co-production). Given that Blindspot news, this seems like the perfect show for this kind of role. But given the network's considerable depth, there was really nothing better to put forward at the start of their season than Taken? It's great that they think it's a moneymaker, but there were much stronger options floating around.


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Spot's Question: Will we learn anything about midseason Sunday?

Apparently Ellen DeGeneres' Game of Games reality series will take over at 9:00, sandwiched between usual occupants Little Big Shots and Shades of Blue. That leaves Chicago Justice very much in limbo.


As NBC's comeback has progressed, they've had more and more pieces with which to try and improve their fortunes on their once-proud Thursday night. And this is the year that they finally think they have enough to go completely all in. It's a neat principle, but in the end it will hinge to a large degree on sophomore Great News and a very short-order Law & Order series. Will they be worth all the effort? I am far from sold.

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