Monday, May 7, 2018

2018 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 2017-18 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 3). 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 VoiceThe Brave1.75
winterThe WallBetter Late Than NeverThe Brave0.90
springThe VoiceGood Girls1.60

Question: What gets The Voice lead-in?

Kinda tough to come up with an exciting question for this one, because it's always all about that 10/9c hour. Good Girls has worked its way up to acceptable enough levels, and I wouldn't totally rule out it coming right back here in the fall if it were capable of airing full seasons. But a newbie is the better choice. Medical drama pilot New Amsterdam got a significant jump on the rest of the pickups, which might suggest that it is headed for one of the prime spots, but it would be really tough for NBC to put it here without knowing where ABC's The Good Doctor is going.


fallThe VoiceThis Is UsLaw and Order True Crime1.96
winterEllen's Game of GamesThis Is UsChicago Med1.98
springThe VoiceRiseChicago Med1.21

Question: Is This Is Us still a drama launch pad?

Law and Order True Crime was a weak effort from a compatibility standpoint, so maybe NBC can come up with something that actually makes sense here. Chicago Med worked really well here, and I don't think it would be that ludicrous to just plug it back here. But This Is Us won't be well into megahit territory forever, so NBC will probably feel obligated to take at least one more shot at doing something big.


fallThe BlacklistLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.13
winterThe BlacklistLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.19
springThe BlacklistLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD1.10

Question: What takes over for The Blacklist?

It could just be The Blacklist, on the theory that it's a good-not-great night that you can take a punt on while promoting everything else heavily. Chicago Med is the stronger choice for this role ratings-wise, but then that seemed pretty clear last year too... so whatever got Blacklist the berth before could do it again. If you believe in the difficulty of the 10:00 hour as much as I do, there's also a real debate to be had about whether this is a better spot for a newbie than even Tuesday after This Is Us. There's a decent amount of competition in this slot, but young female-skewing Empire is the only drama. This Is Us is probably still big enough to give Tuesday one more shot, but it might be a more interesting conversation next year. It's also possible NBC went with three returnees on Wednesday simply because it had such an uncommonly poor new class, and it will put newbies in both the Tuesday and Wednesday openings this time around.


fallSuperstoreThe Good PlaceWill and GraceGreat NewsChicago Fire1.26
winterSuperstoreThe Good PlaceWill and GraceGreat NewsChicago Fire0.99
springSuperstoreA.P. BioWill and GraceChampionsChicago Fire0.84

Question: Which comedy joins the renewed three?

NBC's got to feel like there was a significant missed opportunity using those early big weeks of Will and Grace on Great News, but the ship has sailed at this point. It still certainly seems like Superstore, The Good Place and Will and Grace are all returning in the fall, but the huge lead-in juice probably won't be there again. That would be only three, so something else has gotta be somewhere. Will they try to make another splash with a revival like Mad About You or The Office? Will they try to give sophomore A.P. Bio a try in the more favorable conditions of fall? Or is there an actual promising comedy in development? The network has gone surprisingly heavy on multi-camera development this cycle, so I have to think they're really trying to find a good fit.



Question: Which of the leftovers get Friday night?

The author of the Midnight, Texas book series claims that the summer 2017 TV series (finally renewed in February) is bound for the fall, and Friday in the old home of Grimm seems like the most reasonable destination. The incumbent timeslot occupant Blindspot as well as The Blacklist are probably also angling for a Friday berth. Last year NBC did the old "appease advertisers at the upfront by putting more scripted on Friday, then walk it back and go with two hours of Dateline" trick. So what they put out at the upfront is not necessarily a given. But it seems like there are enough options floating around that we could see two drama hours.


fallFootball Night in America p3Sunday Night Football5.67
winterDatelineMovie Night0.58
springLittle Big ShotsGenius JuniorTimeless0.73

Question: Will we learn anything about midseason Sunday?

This has gotten a little more interesting this year because there's been such huge erosion with Sunday tentpole Little Big Shots. The network has had it easy for a couple years, as they could just throw relatively conventional stuff after LBS, but they're probably gonna have to go back in the splashier direction if they want to turn things around. That kind of splash could be something we hear about at the upfront. The only thing that really jumps out as a possibility among the returnees might be winter smash Ellen's Game of Games.

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