Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ABC's Scheduling Nightmare

In the last two days, ABC picked up more episodes of The Forgotten, canceled Eastwick, and announced the Ugly Betty would replace Eastwick at 10pm on "ABC Comedy Wednesday." I happen to disagree with all three of these decisions (though the Ugly Betty decision sits better than any of the others... I just don't feel it's a 10pm show, but better Wednesday at 10pm with a semi-decent lead-in than Fridays).

My preference would be to:
- cancel The Forgotten
- move Brothers & Sisters to Tuesdays at 10pm
- move Eastwick post-Housewives (at least for a tryout)
- move Betty to Tuesdays at 8pm (or moved the Wednesday 8pm comedies to Tuesdays at 8pm and Betty to Wednesdays at 8pm)
- reality / repeats / whatever on Friday at 9pm

But, hey, I'm not in charge.

I know, I know, I'm always the one saying "you can't move everything at once!" But in ABC's case... they kind of need to figure something out. They've got a lot of middling success and modest returns, but, at this point, three big hits by today's broadcast standards:
- Grey's Anatomy
- Desperate Housewives
- Dancing with the Stars' performance show (for viewership)

ABC also has a few mid-level hits
- Modern Family
- Extreme Makeover Home Edition
- Private Practice (thanks to its lead-in)
- Brothers & Sisters (thanks to its lead-in)
- DWTS Results (for viewers)

Beyond that... ABC has a few modest shows that, for the most part, are lead-in (or lack of competition) reliant but don't deliver the same returns that PP and B&S do.
- Castle
- Cougar Town (if the last two weeks are more indicative of a future trend than the first few weeks of near-perfect retention out of MF were)
- Flashforward (wish is in serious need of rescue via a strong lead-in if it's going to survive to a season season given it's high profile and cost)

We'll see what V does tonight and in the coming weeks to see if it can be the lead-in Flashforward needs... in March when it returns.

But let's say that happens and someone at ABC decides "let's make a block of V and Flashforward" (let alone V, Lost, and Flashforward as I've seen suggested). Where can you put V and Flashforward together on ABC's schedule?

- Monday has two hours blocked out for DWTS / The Bachelor
- Tuesday is interrupted by DWTS Results at 9pm (and I don't see ABC sliding it forward to 8pm to face Idol... though I'd welcome it, if it meant making room to utilize audience flow)
- Wednesday from 8:30-10pm is, shockingly, kind of working for ABC... and 9-10pm certainly is, so I don't see them moving it (and, remember, that Idol will be airing from 8-9pm this season on Wednesdays)
- Thursdays from 9-11pm aren't changing
- The shows are too expensive to risk a Friday slot (and, I mean, really, this wouldn't never happen)
- Sundays aren't changing with AFHV, EM:HE, DH, and B&S all doing fine

In short... there is nowhere to create audience flow to save Flashforward, and this isn't even considering the rest of ABC's midseason shows:
- Lost (back in January or February, depending on ABC's counter-Olympics decision)
- V (back in March... will it stay on Tuesdays at 8pm? Will it continue to be as successful as its premiere was?)
- Happy Town (though I have my doubts that this will see the air)
- The Deep End
- Romantically Challenged (which will be replacing Hank and paired with The Middle on "ABC Comedy Wednesday" should 8-9pm stay intact / on Wednesdays).

Since Scrubs / Better Off Ted are replacing DWTS: Results in December and airing, probably, through the March return of DWTS, you can disregard Scrubs/Better Off Ted and think about the dramas, and where you're putting The Middle/Romantically Challenged. Including Flashforward and a few more hours of The Forgotten, that's 7 hours of programming.

So, I ask... where do you put ANY of these shows to try and build hits (and build on hits), given that ABC isn't going to be moving what is working. You have these timeslots available, as I see it:
- Tuesdays at 8pm (versus Idol...)
- Tuesdays at 10pm
- Wednesdays at 8pm (versus Idol...)
- Wednesdays at 10pm (but, oh wait, Ugly Betty is there now)
- Thursdays at 8pm

Stumped? Me, too. Hence my wholesale schedule renovation suggestions way above.

To put it bluntly: it's a problem. I'm kind of glad I'm not the one who has to execute an attempted solution.


Julia said...

Unfortunately, I don't see ABC trying to save FlashForward at this point. I hope the writers are given fair warning and are able to wrap everything up this season, but considering the recent trend, I think FlashForward is a good candidate to sacrifice to Idol. The other option is Lost vs Idol, which will get better results for ABC, but do they want to see a final season with decent results or a final season with kick ass results?

The Forgotten, V, The Deep End and Happy Town can all share the Tuesday and Wednesday 10 pm slots between them. I know Betty is supposedly taking Eastwick's spot, but I don't see how they can schedule it otherwise, unless DE and HT are bad enough that ABC will stick them against Idol.

I do think they will have to move The Middle to post-DWTS, and cut that back to 90 mins. That will probably hurt Castle, but I'm not so sure it'll get a third season anyway. Stability only goes so far.

Zedman2 said...

To be honest, ABC exec created this miss by not making the right fall scheduling moves to begin with.

Brothers & Sisters should have moved to Wednesdays and Eastwick should have aired post Desperate Housewives. What was the point of the 2 hour Brothers & Sisters event last spring if not to see if it could perform on its own without Desperate Housewives and it proved it could. But then ABC did not follow thru.

I would move DWTS Results to Tuesday 8pm, LOST at 9pm and V to 10pm. Next season, if still successful, move V to 9pm to start the fall season.

Some of these mid-season shows won't air till March or April, which is what ABC traditionally does.

Greg said...

NO drama, let alone a sci fi drama EVER works our of LOST. DWTS should not air Tuesdays at 8p against IDOL. It is 4th now without it.

LOST - Tuesdays at 9p (finally attack Tues night)

then DWTS results (should finally be able to be #1 in the hour - no reality competition. Post LOST problem solved since DWTS has it own audience.
IF V hold up mabye at 8p in MAsRCH

Greg said...

after last night's numbers i say V in march Wed at 10p. can't air against IDOL. LOST encore at 8p Tues, LOST 9p, DWTS 10p

Wed comedies til 10p then V, shoudl eb a ncie young alternative to CSIa nd Leno

YMO said...

Shakeup Sunday. Replace Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with Ugly Betty and shift (or bench) EM: HE to Monday for an all unscripted Monday.

Another scenario would be to bench EM: HE entirely and tryout a displaced comedy or two as a DH lead-in. Or move EM: HE to compete with Idol Tuesday.

Also, although Cougar Town seems to have a home, it has a similar tone to D. Housewives and if they're brave, there's no law saying they can't program comedies in the 10pm slot after, say, DH. HBO & Showtime have done it.

While I don't quite agree that the old schedule is broken, it may simply need a little "shaking up."