What Will NBC Look Like At Midseason?


For a network scheduling and ratings geeks (like me), NBC’s primetime schedule is very fascinating. I’m sure though NBC would rather that not be the case, but this is where they are now.

The first half of the season is winding down and the holidays always signal a sort of resting period for the networks before the midseason do-over.

NBC hoped to take big steps forward this Fall but it seems the peacock’s turnaround will have to take a while.

So what will NBC do at midseason to shore up its schedule? They are certainly not out of it and probably foreseeing the future, have a full bench ready to go.

Inspired by TVbytheNumbers, here’s my suggestions and a couple of things I think NBC should think about when making moves.

First, looking at NBC’s bench…
Of the new shows, The Cape looks to be the most buzzworthy. At the very least, it is the most watercooler show of the bunch. It would seem to be a perfect fit for Mondays paired with Chuck and The Event, but I think it has a sort of more fun Smallville-esque appeal that would not seem like a good fit for 10pm as a replacement for Chase.

Unless NBC moves The Event an hour later or to a whole new night entirely, I think The Cape would be a good fit at 8pm leading into The Event If not, a 10pm slot would only be appealing for it if it was Thursdays at 10.
Other possibilities: Wednesdays or Sundays at 9pm.

The one-hour romantic comedy Love Bites is also buzzworthy. Featuring Becki Newton (and hopefully Jordana Spiro again!), the comedy was pulled from the Fall schedule to allow for retooling in the wake of several production hiccups. The series will most certainly attract a more female-driven audience which would work very well out of The Biggest Loser on Tuesdays at 10pm. But as a comedy, it should fit in well in its originally scheduled Thursday 10pm slot.
Other possibilities: Wednesdays

The other drama waiting in the wings is the Kathy Bates vehicle Harry’s Law which I also think would fit well on Tuesdays at 10pm. It is actually the only slot I see it in. I don’t see it working on Thursdays at 10pm and Mondays and Sundays are possibilities too, but it will clash with the expected action-adventure theme on Monday and a possibly more mixed bag Sunday. The problem with Tuesdays, it’ll go up against The Good Wife which I think may attract a similar audience.

NBC has a truckload of comedies ready to go for midseason. In addition to the returning Parks & Recreation, there are the new comedies The Paul Reiser Show, Perfect Couples and Friends with Benefits. The most interesting thing here is that NBC has four comedies ready to go to possibly launch a brand new comedy block on a new night with Parks & Rec providing the anchor. The only nights without comedy blocks are Tuesday and Friday and it would be smart thinking to launch a new comedy block on a night with no pre-existing one (Fox’s Tuesday comedy block ceding its slots to American Idol at midseason).

Problem is, even with The Biggest Loser taking a hit this season, NBC is not going to touch it on Tuesdays. Anyway, I actually don’t see NBC opening up a full two-hour block this season, but there is room for a pair of comedies on a non-Thursday. Wednesdays at 8pm and possibly Sundays at 8 or 9pm are big possibilities with Mondays at 8pm also interesting. If NBC does premiere all the new comedies this season, I see them doing it in pairs, possibly pairing Parks & Rec with Paul Reiser on Wednesday at 8pm and Perfect Couples with Friends with Benefits together either at an appropriate 10pm Thursday slot or on an interesting Sunday at 9pm slot.

As for current shows, I really don’t like Law & Order: SVU being wasted at 9pm when it has been proven that it does much better at 10. LOLA isn’t taking much advantage of its lead-in either. I’d like to see NBC split up SVU and LOLA. On Thursdays, I’d keep the block the same except with a 30 Rock/Community switch.

Parenthood, after doing very well last season, is down this season. But the show picks up almost 2 million viewers according to DVR +7 ratings showing that maybe there would be a bigger first run audience on a different night and preferably at an earlier time.

Overall, I’m afraid NBC won’t make any big moves. But I really hope they do because they need it. Their current schedule is obviously not bringing in the viewers so why not go ahead and make bold moves. It’s worked for CBS so far.

So here’s my decisions if I were Gaspin and Bromstad…

NEW SHOW New Timeslot
MONDAY
8pm THE CAPE
9pm The Event
10pm Law & Order: Los Angeles

-Mondays at 8pm seem to be the only slot for The Cape if NBC wants to nurture The Event in its current timeslot. Chase would probably have to be moved if only to enable SVU to move into the 10pm slot on Wednesdays. For Chuck, see Sundays.

TUESDAY
8pm The Biggest Loser
10pm HARRY’S LAW

Harry’s Law appears to be a light, quirky drama and would fit here. The Biggest Loser stays put unless NBC holds it for next season or cuts it down to 90 minutes or even an hour. Then all bets for Tuesdays are off.

WEDNESDAY
8pm Parks & Recreation
8:30pm THE PAUL REISER SHOW
9pm Parenthood
10pm Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Parenthood needs to try out an earlier timeslot or it’ll be dead at the end of the season. Either 8 or 9pm on Wednesdays would be fine, but here I have it at 9pm to leave the 8pm hour open for two comedies. To avoid messing with Thursday for now, Parks & Rec returns to boost (relatively speaking) The Paul Reiser Show. And SVU moves to 10pm where it belongs.

THURSDAY
8pm 30 Rock
8:30pm Community
9pm The Office
9:30pm Outsourced
10pm LOVE BITES

Community has showed signs of doing well with a decent lead-in. 30 Rock is proven anywhere it gets slotted. So why not kick the night off with 30 Rock and create a good flow that keeps the viewer on NBC from 8pm all the way to 11pm. Love Bites would be a fine fit at 10pm as a light and fluffy cap to the comedy night. But the male-skewing NBC line-up might hinder Love Bites’ possible progress. Lipstick Jungle certainly wasn’t helped.

FRIDAY
8pm Who Do You Think You Are?/Marriage Ref
9pm Dateline NBC
10pm Chase

Chase gets shuffled off to Fridays to finish out its full season order. Maybe it can help shore up support for NBC on the night if it can stand on its own. Reality stays on the night with Dateline ready to pinch hit when needed.

SUNDAY
7pm Dateline NBC
8pm Chuck
9pm PERFECT COUPLES
9:30pm FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
10pm Celebrity Apprentice

-Sundays can be an interesting possibility for NBC. Chuck, though nothing special on Mondays, has its (very) dedicated fans that will follow it to Sundays. Let’s face it, it won’t be attracting new viewers. Why not move it to Sundays to open up Monday at 8? While Celebrity Apprentice has done well with 2-hour episodes, NBC could set the groundwork for a possible traditional Sunday comedy block. It’s been a while since live action comedies have aired on Sunday (Fox burn-offs not included) and NBC could find some traction against CBS’ strong reality pair and ABC’s soaps.

ALTERNATE SCHEDULE
MONDAY
8pm Chuck
9pm THE CAPE
10pm The Event

-Having Chuck stay put on Mondays, NBC would have to move The Event to 10pm to make room for The Cape which would could lose potential audience at the later time.

TUESDAY
8pm The Biggest Loser
10pm HARRY’S LAW

WEDNESDAY
8pm Parenthood
9pm Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10pm Law & Order: Los Angeles Unit

-Not a fan of this set-up keeping SVU and LOLA where they are, but it does have Parenthood in the prime family viewing hour of 8pm.

THURSDAY
8pm 30 Rock or Community
8:30pm THE PAUL REISER SHOW
9pm The Office
9:30pm Outsourced
10pm LOVE BITES

-Same as above except for inserting Paul Reiser at 8:30 which would be a better fit with the kind of humor on 30 Rock and The Office. Keeping Community here would only be to use 30 Rock as a stronger tentpole on Sundays.

FRIDAY
8pm Who Do You Think You Are?
9pm Dateline NBC
10pm Chase

SUNDAY
7pm Dateline NBC
8pm Parks & Recreation
8:30pm PERFECT COUPLES
9pm Community or 30 Rock
9:30pm FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
10pm Celebrity Apprentice

-This would be very interesting. NBC basically creates a Thursday night line-up on Sunday. 30 Rock would make the better tentpole than Community, but NBC might want to keep them on Thursday.

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