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Week 7 Sitcom Scorecard -- Scheduling Changes to Ponder

Written Reassembling Fall Carnage by Bridger Cunningham


Image result for Young Sheldon annie potts sheldonNovember Sweeps is well underway, and several sitcoms got the hell out of dodge following last week's disastrous results.  Though the unstoppable demographic fall shows no signs of coming to a crawl, at least the cast and crew of this beloved stock had a scandal-free week without its counterparts being exposed for nefarious behaviors!

Sunday, November 5 treated FOX decently, as Bob's Burgers posted a season high (1.4).  The Simpsons made an expected return to normal ratings with a three-tenth drop (1.3), Ghosted ticked down (1.0), Family Guy followed the same trajectory (1.1), and Last Man On Earth remained steady (0.8).  CBS' impromptu Monday overhaul resulted in a brief uptick for the evening of November 6.  Kevin Can Wait seems to have located its favorite number (1.2), and Big Bang Lite (the common rerun) was noticeably down from last season (1.1 vs. 1.5).  Chuck Lorre had better watch it, or else CBS will cancel its cheapest scheduling option.  Superior Donuts experienced a kind two-tenth uptick (1.0); what a difference it makes when CBS breaks this show's cement shoes in poor leads off this soft sitcom.  And 9JKLimpingIntoTheGrave remained steady (0.8), and is way down from last year's showing of 2 Broke Girls (1.2).

Tuesday, November 7 did little to recover lost ground from last week's hateful Halloween herald.  The Middle ticked up a tenth (1.4), as did Fresh Off The Boat (1.0) and Blackish (1.1).  The Mayor remained steady and low (0.7).  ABC's Wednesday comedies took the evening of November 8 off, and CBS' Thursday block experienced mild growth on November 9.  The Big Bang Theory ticked up a tenth (2.8), Young Sheldon remained steady with last week's disastrous results (2.2), Mom nosed up a tenth (1.2), and Life in Pieces managed to piecemeal its same rating from last week (1.2)


Time For a Change

The 2017-18 has exhibited some success for all four networks, albeit they have problem areas in need of repair.  ABC's comedy blocks have 75% of their stables winning, yet have one albatross on each evening weighing down the night.  CBS Thursdays are red-hot, while Mondays are frosting early into Winter numbers.  FOX' Sunday lineup remains steady and successful, while Tuesdays' comedies cannot classify as cellar dwellers as their performance is so weak, they're leaking into the sewers.  And NBC has experienced a welcome revival due to Will and Grace's return, only to enjoy 16 episodes.  Problems are forecast in the spring after this jewel exits the schedule and leaves a pack of softly rated laughter in its wake.  Changes are necessary on each evening to retool, and each evening has a different dynamic proposed.


If it isn't broken, why retool the lineup?  Ghosted is formatted with a limited episode run, leaving an ideal opening for LA>Vegas to rack up some Nielsen miles.  The Simpsons and Family Guy mount the evening, and Bob's Burgers and Last Man on Earth submissively take the bookend half hour slots with decent results.  This season is a win for Sundays.


From 1986-2014, CBS ruled Mondays with four comedies.  Even during softer periods between 1986-91 and 1994-98, Mondays bolstered CBS' fragile franchise.  Then, the network lost its way in late 2013 and began rotating its prized sitcoms.  Such an effect on valuable, sturdy players equates to treating antiqued collectible furniture like Ikea screw-and-throw pieces, bashing the valuable franchises with nicks and scars.  Valued players like Mike and Molly, 2 Broke Girls and Two and a Half Men took a backseat to The Big Bang hogging the schedule in early fall, breaking viewing patterns.  A complete absence of sitcoms from 2015-16 harmed the evening, and CBS placed 2 hours of thrown together success last season with mixed results.  Kevin Can Wait performed above average, Man With a Plan and Superior Donuts delivered tepidly, and 2 Broke Girls bounced around like grifters and were foolishly evicted in May.

Come fall 2017, Mondays remain a mess.  TBBT did well, KCW eroded, and 9JKL and Me, Myself & I tanked.  This week, the lineup rotated again to make way for MWAP to debut November 13.  Predictions forecast another tepid year and a soft lineup.  A solution?  CBS houses two monster nerd hits on Thursdays from 8-9:00.  TBBT is in its 11th season and may be out the door in 2019, yet has enough draw to help generate lightning.  Place it at 9:00, as CBS' Monday ratings have followed a downward trajectory for several seasons from the 8:00 hour.  Placing softer sophomores MWAP and Superior Donuts as bookends allows both shows to gain warranted love from a mega-hit and perhaps could help both survive past 2019.  TBBT will easily win its timeslot with only NBC's The Voice posing a threat.  Splitting up the riches may help repair Mondays.


Tuesday has a proliferation of soft competition between ABC, FOX and later NBC.  All need retooling as none are performing to their true potential.

ABC:  The 4th place network claimed a brief victory in Fall 2016 with a resurgent comedy block, only to be frosted out by the Winter/Spring and the cursed 9:30 timeslot.  Flash forward one year, and the network's largest hit in this block (The Middle) has one foot out the door.  The anticipated replacements (FOTB, Black-ish) hover in the low 1.0 range, and the 9:30 shot has yet to turn around.  The solution lies in compatibility and seeking a proper show disposal vs. clamoring for a new hit to replace The Mayor.  Speechless is Wednesday's albatross, so move it to Tuesdays at 9:30.  It has enjoyed plush surroundings its entire run, so move it behind Black-ish in a "Make it or Break It" ultimatum.  At the worst, the show would range 0.8-0.9, a considerable upgrade from the existing state.

Allow The Middle to bow out early in its standalone tribute, then rotate FOTB to 8:00 and acclimatize viewers to seeing the show lead the evening.  In its vacancy, let Roseanne disrupt the lineup and build up FOTB and Black-ish.  It's 8-episode run can justify the 8:30 timeslot and build its surroundings.  And perhaps The remains will hold steady, grow or dispose of dead weight.

FOX: Tuesday sitcom hours appear to be a disposal ground at less of a premium.  The Mick is performing underbar, yet has 20 episodes committed.  Brooklyn 99 is falling in disgrace and has limited odds of survival.  Rather than run the season out weak, use B99's police shield to schedule original programming opposite The Olympics and give FOX some delivery of ratings in the form of back to back showings.  After its episode order files out, run the network's last 8 weeks out between New Girl and The Mick.  New Girl will likely match B99, though it will get a gracious sendoff.

NBC: The network has used the post-Voice timeslot to launch new sitcoms with mixed results.  Superstore and The Good Place experienced modest success, while Trial & Error and Great News struggled.  The farm soil opens after This is Us exits the air, and the race is on.  AP Bio appears to be the stronger choice against Champions, so give it 2-3 weeks of double episode exposure and farm out the remains on Thursday.  For the tail end of the season, allow Champions to develop in the timeslot.


The ratings are down, but the feel of the block is still intact with zany family antics.  From 2014-17, ABC had an established franchise which has only experienced considerable erosion.  Move Speechless out of the prime 8:30 development bed, as it always underperforms it surrounding shows between 23-45%.  That space is ideal to give Alex, Inc a fair launch, as it has little opportunity to grow on Tuesdays at 9:30.


CBS has an impeccable Thursday lineup, its strongest in over 3 seasons.  TBBT and Young Sheldon sport the meat of the sitcom ratings, so moves are warranted.  Given YS is likely slated to take over TBBT's slot, move it early and open the 8:30 timeslot for By the Book as YS and Mom are suitable candidates for development.

NBC sports the most improved Must-See-TV franchise in 13 years, thanks to the success of Will and Grace.  However, what is the network to do when this, and quasi-hit Good Place exit after 13-16 episode runs?  The network should plan for a soft yet fair spring.  Launch Trial & Error's 2nd season in The Good Place's home and allow for a few episodes of development next to a ratings powerhouse.  After W&G exits, move it to 9:00 and allow AP Bio to get a fair shake in a decent timeslot behind Superstore.  Great News' future remains on the bubble, but it is holding down the back end of the schedule with some success.

The only change in renewal percentage is The Good Place's upgrade to 100%, as 8 of its 13 episode orders have performed at bar or above standards.  Would these scheduling proposals help or harm their perspective networks?  Sound off and leave feedback for schedule proposals.