THR's Midseason TV Report Card: Where the Networks Stand Heading Into TCA
NBC prays for a "Smash" and the other broadcast nets arrive with a sense of (cautious) optimism.
Where It Stands: Simon Cowell shot himself in the foot by declaring that anything less than 20 million viewers would be "a disappointment" for The X Factor. Still, the singing competition's average of 12.4 million viewers, coupled with New Girl, Fox's first live-action comedy breakout in years, has helped chief Kevin Reilly stake out a rare 18-to-49 tie with No. 1 network CBS. On the downside, new dinosaur drama Terra Nova put up a middling 10 million viewers considering its high cost and Steven Spielberg pedigree. But the network has the still-formidable American Idol helping to launch its midseason dramas: Bones spinoff The Finder gets the post-Idol slot beginning Jan. 19, and Kiefer Sutherland's Touch will get a preview behind Idol on Jan. 25 and return in March on Mondays, where Sutherland's 24 thrived. Beginning in March, the network will try an all-comedy block Tuesday, sandwiching Christian Slater's Breaking In between reruns and fresh episodes of New Girl.
What it Needs: After striking out with I Hate My Teenage Daughter and the animated Allen Gregory, Fox must find at least one more live-action comedy to field a four-comedy Tuesday night. And insiders are hoping Napoleon Dynamite -- based on the big-screen cult hit -- will catch on with younger viewers who still flock to Fox's Sunday animation block. More critically, the network needs to build up its drama coffers as House's ratings show signs of flagging; Abrams' thriller Alcatraz could benefit as Monday counterprogramming to ABC's reality and CBS' comedies.
What to Look For: If Fox can grow Breaking In with help from New Girl, it's possible Glee could relocate from Tuesday to anchor another night. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Idol as it attempts to retain its crown as the top-rated singing competition. "There are real differences between Idol and [NBC's] The Voice," says Preston Beckman, Fox's executive vp program planning. "We're cautiously optimistic that the show's going to remain the top show on television for another year."