In less than a week, the broadcast networks will start announcing their lineups for the 2013-14 season, and all of them will tout rosters of new shows that are all high-testing, broad-based, sure-fire hits.
That, of course, won’t end up being the case. The past few years, only about a third of the new shows the broadcast nets have rolled out made it to a second season. Which means, every year, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW are looking to fill some sort of need in their schedules.
That’s where Zap2it comes in. As we do every year at this time, we’re going to propose some network schedules for next season and assess what each network needs for the coming season.
So if we were running ABC, its fall lineup might look like this (new shows in italics, all times ET/PT). The whys follow the schedule.
8 p.m. “Dancing With the Stars”
10 p.m. “Castle”
8 p.m. “Dancing With the Stars” results
9 p.m. “The Middle”
9:30 p.m. “Back in the Game” or “Super Fun Night”
10 p.m. “Nashville”
8 p.m. “Suburgatory”
8:30 p.m. “How to Live With Your Parents”
9 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “Trophy Wife”
10 p.m. “Gothica”
8 p.m. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
9 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10 p.m. “Scandal”
8 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “Malibu Country” or “The Goldbergs”
9 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10 p.m. “20/20”
7 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8 p.m. “Once Upon a Time” (fall/spring)/“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (midseason)
9 p.m. “Revenge”
10 p.m. “Westside” or “The Returned”
What ABC needs next season:
A drama that sticks: “Once Upon a Time” is a strong performer (new episodes average 11 million-plus viewers and a 4.0 among adults 18-49 in Live +7 ratings), and “Nashville” has been steady if not spectacular ratings-wise in its inaugural season. But the Alphabet’s record of launching new dramas is not good recently, and with shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” getting closer to the end of their runs, some fresh blood is needed. Badly
Potential help: “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” infidelity drama “Betrayal,” the horror-tinged “Gothica” and the Wonderland-set “OUAT” spinoff are contenders.
To shore up its comedies: The network has a pretty nice block of family comedies on Wednesday nights, although it would be nice if the shows leading out of “The Middle” and “Modern Family” could hold more of their lead-in. The TGIF 2.0 block hummed along fine this season too, but it the network really wants to make a third comedy block work, it needs to do better than it did this season in putting “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B—“ on an island on an already comedy-heavy night. That could mean moving “The Middle,” which has a remarkably steady, reliable audience, to Tuesdays to help launch a new show. Having “Suburgatory” lead off Wednesdays is risky, but the 8 p.m. hour isn’t as competitive as it once was, so it could survive.
Potential help: “Back in the Game,” “Trophy Wife” and “The Goldbergs” could fit in the Wednesday family block, and if “The Middle” goes to Tuesday, one of those could go with it. Rebel Wilson‘s “Super Fun Night,” Britcom remake “Pulling” and “Bad Management” (co-created, incidentally, by “Pulling’s” Sharon Horgan) are options if the network looks to another night.
A third Sunday player: The “OUAT”-“Revenge” block has worked reasonably well this season, but neither “666 Park Avenue” nor “Red Widow” managed to make much of a dent at 10 o’clock. With prestige cable dramas (and DVR catchup) now dominating the last hour of primetime on Sundays, it might be better to steer toward more escapist fare.
Potential help: The “OUAT” spinoff seems like a natural here, but ABC could also use it to keep the night fresh when the parent show would otherwise be in reruns. Soapy drama “Westside” could make a nice pairing with “Revenge,” and “Gothica” (which we currently have on Wednesdays) and “The Returned” also have genre elements that could work here.
Something, anything for 8 o’clock on Thursdays: The timeslot has been a black hole for the network in recent years. “Ugly Betty” drew solid ratings there for its first three seasons, but starting with “FlashForward” in the fall of 2009, it’s been a place where shows go to die.
Potential help: “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is probably the best bet to be a big-tent kind of show and get ABC back in the game.
To start weaning itself off “Dancing With the Stars”: Both “DWTS” editions still rank in Top 15 among viewers, but the show’s demo ratings have dropped sharply this year, to the point where two-hour performance shows seem tough to justify. Scaling back to an hour on Mondays could provide a platform for another new show and help ease the blow for a future time when the show goes away.
Potential help: It probably won’t happen this fall. But if it did, a lighter procedural a la the mother-daughter mystery show “Murder in Manhattan” could be a good fit with “DWTS” and “Castle.”
What are you hoping ABC’s schedule looks like in the fall?