NBC will start off the 2010 upfronts not on Monday, but on Sunday (May 16), when it announces its schedule for next season in a call with reporters. If upfront lore is true, then network executives will be moving shows around right up to the time people start dialing in.
But for what it’s worth, if we were running NBC — or any of the broadcast networks, for that matter — and we had a hot new show that we think had hit potential, we have a pretty good idea where we’d put it: Wednesday nights at 8. It’s a timeslot that is absolutely ripe for new blood.
Outside of Friday and Saturday nights, no hour in primetime this season has been weaker. The most-watched show that aired regularly in the 8 o’clock hour on Wednesdays was FOX’s “Human Target,” which including DVR viewing drew around 9.4 million viewers per week when it aired there and a 2.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic (its two best airings were its series premiere, which was on a Sunday, and one that aired after “American Idol” at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20). Those aren’t bad numbers — “Human Target” is 39th for the season in viewers and tied for 50th in the demo — but in just about any other timeslot from Sunday to Thursday, they’d be good for only second or third place.
So if we’re scheduling NBC and we have buzzed-about pilots like “Undercovers” and “The Event” in our pocket for fall, we’d take a hard look at putting one of them there. “Undercovers” is a lighter show that could probably do well early in the evening — which is not to say that something like the conspiracy thriller “The Event” couldn’t work either. Eight o’clock Wednesday is, after all, where “Lost” began its life in 2004.
Heck, NBC: Why not put two new dramas on that night? The 9 p.m. show would have tougher competition from the likes of “Criminal Minds” and “Modern Family” — and at midseason, “American Idol.” But “Idol” is no longer the steamroller it once was, “Minds” has fallen off a little too and “Modern Family’s” lead-out, “Cougar Town,” tends to lose a good-sized chunk of its audience at 9:30, so there’s opportunity there as well.
Consider a lineup of “Undercovers” at 8 and, say, “The Event” or “Outlaw” at 9, leading into the still-competitive “Law & Order: SVU” at 10. That’s a pretty decent night of TV — and one that could be a foundation for the network to dig out of its hole. Success comes show by show and night by night, and there’s success to be had on Wednesdays next season.
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Photo credits: FOX, NBC