Friday, November 19, 2010

Preston Beckman Knows What He's Doing aka Obligatory FOX Midseason Schedule Analysis Post

C'mon guys, seriously. Is there really *that* much to discuss here and/or gape about?

I love Fringe. Especially this season. But I watch it on Fridays now, anyway. So I'm totally cool with the move to Fridays at 9pm. Taking the Fan Hat off, what does this practically mean? First of all, of course, expect some ratings slippage. But honestly at this point, I don't think there will be a ton (certainly not the ~50% drop that some of my Twitter followers have predicted). The competition isn't there for that. Fringe isn't a casual viewer show. It's viewers seek it out and will continue to do so. Putting it on a night with significantly less competition should help with the Same Day ratings because there will be far less waiting for tomorrow for DVR playback. Fringe does fantastically in Plus Seven DVR increase percentages.

Regardless of how little that figure means to advertisers, here's an instance I think it will actually work to the show's advantage. A portion of those +7 DVR viewers could become Same Day DVR viewers (again, I am one of those, not that I have a Nielsen box for anyone to notice). Even if it's just a couple tenths, that will be enough to counteract any loss the show experiences moving away from the Bones lead-in (the two shows really don't have a lot of crossover audience... Bones is a much older skewing show). Not that I expect Kitchen Nightmares to be a huge lead-in, the Gordon Ramsey shows attract, like Fringe, relatively small viewer numbers when compared to the demo. This could all work to Fringe's advantage. Plus, expectations on Friday are different. The biggest show last week attracted a 1.9 in the demo. Compare that to Fringe's current competition: Grey's around a 4.0, CSI in the low-to-mid 3s, and The Office/Outsourced also in the low-to-mid 3s. Yes, there's less HUTs on Friday nights... but I think it all counterbalances itself nicely to a place where Fringe can be both stable and successful (and depending on budget talks, survive for more seasons).

And between Fringe and Supernatural (sadly, competing against each other), SciFridays are, this Winter/Spring, truly alive and well. Even if SyFy has abandoned the night to the WWE.

As I've stated on Twitter, I find two primary motives for the Idol move to Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The first: protect Glee by letting it remain in a timeslot. Stability is huge in this business, and viewers have clearly found Glee on Tuesdays at 8pm. While I continue to believe that Glee needs fixing, there's no denying the empirical data: it kicks its competition's butt in major sales demographics. Glee and Tuesdays are perfect for each other (as it's music release day).

The second: establish a year-round reality competition wheel. Winter/Spring has Idol. Summer has So You Think You Can Dance (which has traditionally aired Wednesdays and Thursdays, anyway). Fall will have X-Factor. Guess what else this means? More stability. No longer will Fox have to rejigger its schedule every 4 months (i.e. Glee Wednesdays at 9... now Tuesdays at 9... now Tuesdays at 8! Or like House used to be on Tuesdays at 8pm in the Fall then Mondays in the Winter/Spring). Reality competition shows will just give way to each other. Stability.

Okay, three reasons: Thursday ad dollars command a premium. As Idol's ratings slip (and they will continue to do so), FOX can keep charging advertisers exorbitant sums because, hey, it's a major, broad audience pre-weekend platform for advertisements.

A nice side benefit: Bones gets the Idol lead-in it has long deserved but not had since its first season. I'm loving the show, and with Idol leading into it (plus the 9pm hour having higher HUTs, and the show's gore factor lending itself to the 9pm hour more than 8pm anyway), I'm thinking Bones will get a nice boost.

I don't think there's much else to say, as these two are the major moves. We already knew about Lie to Me and Human Target's truncated seasons (and neither has performed at a level that demands renewal... with more stability, Fox will feel free to let both these shows go away, or perhaps ship one to Fridays with Friday in Fall 2011). We already knew about The Chicago Code. House is of course staying put. Raising Hope is doing decent business out of Glee (it's always hard to attract the passionate fanbase of a pop cultural phenomenon to a lead-out... cough, Lost for 6 years, cough) and, like my assertion with Cougar Town benefiting from Off the Map, I think having a lead-out will help... so Raising Hope may improve if Mixed Signals is simply not as big a turnoff as Running Wilde was.

I have no opinion about the Sunday changes except my personal sadness that American Dad, easily the best of Seth MacFarlane's shows, is being relegated to 7:30pm. It is the worst rated, and it's already in syndication, so I get it. And if Bob's Burgers fails, it'll slide nicely in between The Simpsons and Family Guy.

1 comment:

DuMont said...

I must say, those at FOX are deft schedulers, the best of breed amongst broadcasters.

Mr. Kevin Reilly likes to exploit his strengths, and the shift of 'American Idol' to Wednesdays and Thursdays is a brilliant move, perhaps a few seasons too late.

There are many sked gambits that I like:

-> FOX has found room for three sitcoms on their mid-season sked: 'Raising Hope' leading into 'Mixed Signals', and the rushed-into-production 'Breaking In' out of 'Idol'.
-> I am most sanguine about the move of 'Fringe' from Thursday to Fridays, taking over the old 'Dollhouse' hour. Like so many fans of the series, I've missed much of the past few seasons because of too many choices on Thursday nights. This season, I've been able to keep up on the series via the Saturday 11 pm encores, and it will be nice to watch the series live again on Friday nights.
-> I'm looking forward to 'Bob's Burgers' on Sunday night, and happy to see FOX giving the series the hammock slot between 'The Simpsons' and 'Family Guy' as well treating viewers to a special preview of 'Bob's Burgers' during THE SIMPSONS MOVIE this coming Thursday.

Finally, applause for the FOX decision to run the full season of 20 episodes of 'The Good Guys' on Fridays, and then give it the Saturday 11 pm encore slot in the New Year. My tea leaves indicate that FOX still has faith in this quirky, offbeat parody-dramedy, and a future summer season order is still in the cards.