Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 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 2016-17 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 4). 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 Renewology was the SHOW-centric portion, drilling more into the merits of individual shows: NBC Renewology

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


fallThe Voice FallTimeless2.09
winterCelebrity ApprenticeTimeless1.00
springThe Voice SpringTaken1.75

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

For years Monday after The Voice was the place to be on NBC, but in recent seasons NBC has alternated between success (The Blacklist and Blindspot) and disappointment (State of Affairs/The Night Shift, Timeless/Taken) here. Meanwhile, This Is Us may be an even bigger lead-in on Tuesday.

While Timeless and Taken may not be totally dead, they clearly should not be back here, so yet another newbie seems bound for 10/9c. The network has already picked up its two hottest drama pilots, Rise and For God and Country, and they seem like decent enough bets to get looks on the first two nights. Rise feels like the more compatible fit with This Is Us, so maybe FG&C goes here.


fallThe Voice Tue FallThis Is UsChicago Fire2.24
winterThe WallThis Is UsChicago Fire1.94
springThe Voice Tue SpringTrial and ErrorChicago Fire1.41

Question: How will NBC mess with Tuesday success?

Last year, with Chicago Med at 9/8c on Tuesday, the question here was if NBC would mess with its Tuesday lineup, and in fact many thought it would not. It easily could've been a "good not great" lineup that was worth keeping intact. But This Is Us more than lived up to NBC's gamble, and now the lineup is unquestionably great/great/great. This time, it is even clearer that NBC should spread the abundant Tuesday wealth.

But there are a lot of ways to go about it. Could NBC actually move megahit This Is Us to another night and keep the old Voice / Fire hammock going? Is The Voice bound to be a "better" lead-in than This Is Us, where almost anything is bound to have bad-looking retention?

My guess is that at least for one season, NBC will follow the Empire mold and do what they perceive to be best for crown jewel This Is Us rather than what is best for the new show. That means leaving TIU at 9/8c after The Voice. Of course, this is still not anywhere near as bad as Fox's protection of Empire, since it would still get to lead into a newbie at 10/9c.


fallBlindspotLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.35
winterBlindspotLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.26
springBlindspotLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.08

Question: What leads off on Wednesday?

Blindspot has at least put itself back into the renewal mix with its better performance since DST, but it seems like space is too tight for it to remain in the Wednesday 8/7c mix. The obvious choice here would be Chicago Fire, if Tuesday plays out as expected. But maybe NBC wants Fire to help out Chicago Med on Thursday, leading to two nights with comedy hours leading into Wolf double-headers?


fallSuperstoreThe Good PlaceChicago MedThe Blacklist1.25
winterSuperstorePowerlessChicago MedThe Blacklist1.06
springSuperstorePowerlessChicago MedThe Blacklist: Redemption0.85

Question: Is a "Must See TV"-esque lineup returning?

With a revival of Will and Grace that has already gotten an episode extension, returning it to the signature Must See TV night is likely in the cards. The network could even continue the flavor with medical drama Chicago Med in the old ER timeslot at 10/9c. Again, the obvious choice would be two comedy hours on this night, with Superstore and The Good Place retaining their fall slots, but I don't totally discount the symmetry of two comedy/comedy/drama/drama setups.


fallCaught on CameraDateline Fri0.88
winterGrimmEmerald CityDateline Fri0.78
springFirst DatesDateline Fri0.83

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

NBC largely phoned it in on Friday this season, going heavy unscripted with the exception of the three months of a Grimm-led drama block in the winter. With Grimm gone, they could go even more all-out for unscripted (First Dates has been surprisingly respectable) but the network has enough dramas floating around the margins that they should be in the Friday scripted business for 2017-18. It's a question of skew; do they embrace oldness with Chicago Justice or continue trying to court the relatively younger Grimm genre crowd with something like Timeless?


fallFootball Night in AmericaSunday Night Football6.22
winterMovie Night0.68
springLittle Big ShotsChicago JusticeShades of Blue1.06

Question: Will we learn anything about midseason Sunday?

Little Big Shots season one was not announced for this slot till January. But last year, NBC gave us a concrete midseason Sunday schedule at the upfront and ended up sticking to it! Little Big Shots is now an established anchor for the night, and it's pretty easy to see Shades returning to 10/9c as well. So maybe we get the goods at the upfront again. With indications that Chicago Justice may be teetering, perhaps it gets held for midseason and the whole night returns intact?

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