At least at the start of the season, the broadcast networks look like they’re making a real effort to bring viewers back to Friday nights. Let’s take a look at each one’s prospects.
We’re going to do this ratings fight post a little differently than the ones from earlier in the week, mostly because the premieres are more staggered. ABC, for instance, is waiting until at least mid-October to roll out “Secret Millionaire” and “Body of Proof.” NBC is doing the same with its reality show “School Pride,” while “Human Target” fans won’t see a new episode on FOX until Oct. 1.
So we’re going look at each network’s lineup individually, starting with …
“Secret Millionaire” had a brief run on FOX in 2008, where it averaged 7 million viewers over six episodes. ABC picked up the rights to the series — a feel-good unscripted show in the vein of “Undercover Boss” — last year and would probably be pretty happy if it matched the FOX numbers. We rather liked “Body of Proof,” and we hope it’s given a chance. (ABC hasn’t really hyped either show yet, concentrating instead on the shows rolling out this week and next.)
For now, repeats of Wednesday comedies and one of the network’s new dramas will air from 8 to 10 p.m. ET, followed by mainstay “20/20” at 10.
The Eye has owned this night for the past several seasons, and that’s not likely to change too much this season. CBS moved “CSI: NY” from Wednesday nights to 9 p.m. Fridays to anchor the night; it will be flanked by “Medium” and the new drama “Blue Bloods.” All three shows debut this week, and it feels like a pretty cohesive schedule with the two proven shows flowing into the newcomer.
“Smallville” performed reasonably well in its first run on Friday nights last year, averaging 2.7 million viewers a week. Interest in the final season could goose that number a little bit, and its long-time former Thursday companion “Supernatural” should make for a decent block for the network starting this week — probably the best it’s had since it let the WWE go a couple years ago.
“Human Target” (which debuts Oct. 1) averaged a healthy 9.5 million viewers a week last season, including a Sunday-night premiere and a couple of airings following “American Idol.” The bar on Fridays at FOX is not high, so it could lose a fair number of those viewers and still post the network’s best Friday showing in quite some time. “The Good Guys” is a little more problematic; it drew only 4.7 million viewers per week in its summer run, and that will probably come down some when it debuts Friday (Sept. 24).
The first few weeks of the season will feature two-hour installments of “Dateline” (which usually brings in between 6 million and 8 million viewers) and new drama “Outlaw” at 10. “Outlaw” got a preview after the “America’s Got Talent” finale on Sept. 15 and brought in 10.7 million people; if it can approach that in its regular home NBC will be ecstatic.
On Oct. 15, the network rolls out “School Pride,” a sort of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for schools. It’s flying way, way under the radar so far, so it’s hard to make any sort of prediction yet.
What are you planning to watch (or record) on Fridays?
Photo credits: CBS, NBC, The CW