Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Breakdown: NBC Friday in 2019-20 (The Blacklist, Lincoln Rhyme, Dateline)

It's time for a journey through the NBC Friday schedule in 2019-20...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts in 2019-20 also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more.


2018-19BlindspotMidnight, TexasDateline52
2019-20The BlacklistDateline67 (+31%)
66 (+35%)68 (+63%)68 (+6%)

After stumbling through last fall with a struggling Blindspot and ill-fitting Midnight, Texas, NBC put its best foot forward in fall 2019 with The Blacklist taking over at 8/7c and the network following ABC's lead by expanding its newsmagazine to two hours on a regular basis.


2018-19BlindspotThe BlacklistDateline58
2019-20Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For the Bone CollectorDateline70 (+19%)
59 (+4%)75 (+26%)74 (+27%)

NBC's smallest growth of the season came in the winter, when new drama Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For the Bone Collector filled in for The Blacklist during its midseason hiatus. But Dateline had its strongest period of the season, including huge growth against its year-ago 10/9c ratings, and that kept the nightly growth well into the double digits.


2018-19BlindspotThe BlacklistDateline52
2019-20The BlacklistDateline64 (+22%)
64 (+41%)64 (+18%)64 (+11%)

The Blacklist came back in a big way during the COVID-19 viewership inflation, setting new season highs and beating the year-ago Blindspot by even bigger margins (at least in CVPlus). The growth for the full night was a little less since there was no more Midnight, Texas to kick around, but Dateline still grew even in the 10:00 hour.

Rating the Ratings

The Blacklist*0.40.550.8-4%67solid(Fri)+11%detail
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For the Bone Collector0.40.470.657flopdetail
Dateline Fri*0.40.560.7-3%68solid(Fri)+13%detail

The Blacklist: We've seen even within this show's previous history that moving to 8/7c will unlock a lot of this show's substantial DVR audience, and it seems like COVID-19 just amplified that in the spring. I'm handing it the same grade I gave to the other Friday stars during the pandemic (Shark Tank and MacGyver), in part because it had so much timeslot improvement. But this one is closer to a B because it was not up in the DVR numbers as much as MacGyver, even if has much bigger delayed bumps overall. Grade: B+.

Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt For the Bone Collector: Basically had the same Plus as the winter ratings of Blindspot in the last couple seasons, which is not a huge compliment, but NBC has certainly done worse on Fridays in the past. Even the DVR numbers were OK. It was not The Blacklist but it wouldn't have been a huge reach renewal. Grade: C.

Dateline Fri: Like with 20/20, it did fine but the two-hour episodes have always been juiced historically. And this was a nearly full season of one-hour vs. two-hour comparisons. It was a big bounce-back from last season but toward the low end of what Dateline had been doing in the second half of the 2010s. Grade: B.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Previous Breakdowns for NBC Friday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for NBC Friday.

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