As the 2018-19 season approaches, The Hollywood Reporter is handicapping the broadcast networks' chances for success on each night of the week. We'll look for potential breakouts (and flops), veterans with the best chance to improve (or stumble) and any intriguing time period battles — inasmuch as those still matter in an on-demand world.
Wednesday is among the more stable nights of the week, with only 2 1/2 hours' worth of new shows and a handful of other moves. As such, there probably won't be a lot of movement ratings-wise on a night where every broadcast net has found a niche.
New shows and new nights
Just three new series — Single Parents and A Million Little Things on ABC, and All American on The CW — are making Wednesday night their home in the fall. Also on ABC, American Housewife moves from 9:30 to 8:30. At NBC, Chicago Med and Chicago PD relocate from other nights to make and all-Windy City block with Chicago Fire.
(All ratings are Live +7 for 2017-18 unless noted)
Modern Family, 2.9 in adults 18-49
Top cable competition
American Horror Story is the only show that drew anything approaching broadcast-level numbers in 2017. Season seven (Cult) averaged a 1.1 same-day rating among adults 18-49.
Biggest makeover: NBC
"Biggest" is a relative term here since no network made wholesale changes (CBS and Fox didn't make any). But NBC's decision to stack all three of its interconnected Dick Wolf-produced Chicago shows together is an interesting one. All three have loyal audiences and very similar ratings, so the move makes sense on that front. It's also something of a first to have three shows that share a day-to-day world airing back to back to back. Will viewers get Chicago fatigue by the end of the night?
Potential breakout: 'All American'
The CW's new show isn't likely to overtake Modern Family, Star or its other 9 p.m. competition — the network just doesn't play on the same field in terms of on-air ratings. But after a pretty weak showing in the 9 o'clock spot last season, first by Dynasty and then by Life Sentence, there's almost nowhere to go but up. And with what looks to be a blend of The O.C. and Friday Night Lights, All American has ingredients to hold on to more of Riverdale's audience than its 2017-18 predecessors did.
DVR overload: 8 p.m.
The opening hour of Wednesday has a something-for-everyone quality to it: There are a few different flavors of drama — Empire's family soap, Chicago Med's mix of medical procedural and character stories, Riverdale's teen-centered wildness — the dean of competition shows in Survivor and a pair of veteran family comedies in The Goldbergs and American Housewife.
Last season's ratings suggest there was room for everything, and that's likely to continue this season. Every show's 18-49 rating also grew by at least 40 percent after a week of delayed viewing, also likely to continue.
"Peaceful coexistence" was largely the theme of Wednesday nights in 2017-18, at 8 and across the rest of primetime. With no huge shakeups from any network, it's hard to see that changing very much in 2018-19.
Single Parents is getting the post-Modern Family spot on ABC, signaling that the network thinks it has a real shot at success. Still, closing the night with two new series represents some risk: If Single Parents doesn't hold well coming out of Modern Family, it could handicap A Million Little Things at 10. The latter, an emotional drama in the vein of This Is Us, at least can serve as counterprogramming to veteran procedurals on CBS (Criminal Minds) and NBC (Chicago PD).
CBS and Fox typically led Wednesdays in total viewers and adults 18-49, respectively, last season, and thus left their lineups intact. CBS will probably repeat its total-audience win again with Survivor, SEAL Team and Criminal Minds. Empire is still a solid draw in the 18-49 demo, and Star showed staying power in its sophomore season on Fox. They should hold up fine.
Chicago Fire stands to be the biggest beneficiary of NBC's all-ChiTown slate after suffering some fairly sizable declines on Thursdays a year ago. Riverdale may not get as big a Netflix bump to start season three as it did for season two, but The CW is in for the long haul on the show. As noted above, All American needs only to clear a fairly low bar to improve the network on the night.