TV Long View: Fall 2019 Tuesday Network Ratings Forecast

The Hollywood Reporter sizes up the broadcast networks' schedules for the 2019-20 season: 'This Is Us' and 'NCIS' are poised to continue their ratings dominance.
Courtesy of NBC, FOX and ABC
From left: 'This Is Us,' 'Empire,' 'The Conners'

With the 2019-20 TV season looming, The Hollywood Reporter is handicapping the broadcast networks' chances for success on each night of the week. Which new series are best set up to succeed? Which veterans are fading, and which ones are holding fast? Can anything on a traditional network break out?

Tuesday is one of the more stable nights on network TV in the fall, with just two new series on the schedule and two networks, CBS and NBC, not making any changes at all from 2018-19. Ratings-wise, that likely means a similar pattern to last season, too. Here's a rundown of what to expect when the season begins.

New Shows, New Time Slots

ABC has the two new series in the comedy Mixed-ish and the drama Emergence.

After canceling last season's Tuesday shows, Fox's lineup is new: The Resident and the final season of Empire move from Monday and Wednesday, respectively. Arrow also moves from Mondays on The CW, and the ABC comedy Bless This Mess airs an hour earlier than last season at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Top-Rated Returning Series
(All numbers are live-plus-7 for 2018-19)

Adults 18-49: This Is Us (3.8 rating), The Conners (2.3), New Amsterdam (2.2)

Total viewers: NCIS (15.89 million), This Is Us (13.8 million), FBI (12.68 million)

Cable Heavyweights

One of Tuesday's highest-rated cable shows, WWE Smackdown, is moving to Fox (and Friday nights), leaving one less obstacle for the broadcast nets on the night. FX's Mayans MC, History's Curse of Oak Island and Bravo's Below Deck all drew solid ratings last fall.

Vote of Confidence: Mixed-ish

When an established show and its spinoff are scheduled on the same night, the original usually airs first (e.g., The Goldbergs and Schooled, NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans). ABC, however, thinks highly enough of Mixed-ish — a spinoff of Black-ish that follows a young Rainbow (Arica Himmel) as she and her siblings grow up in the 1980s — that it is leading off the 9 o'clock hour, with Black-ish following at 9:30. It will face strong competition in This Is Us, Empire and FBI, but ABC is betting the series can stick.

Tough Spot: Emergence

Last season, it looked like ABC had figured out a way to stabilize its black-hole 10 p.m. Tuesday spot with The Rookie, which put up consistent (if not spectacular) numbers all season and was a strong performer in delayed viewing.

This season? Well, The Rookie has been dispatched to another problem spot, 10 p.m. Sundays, and the new drama Emergence is filling the 10 p.m. Tuesday spot. It's a serialized show with sci-fi elements, airing opposite two established shows in New Amsterdam and NCIS: New Orleans, without as strong a lead-in as NBC's Manifest — another serial, sci-fi-ish show that broke out initially — had last season. Regardless of how good the Allison Tolman-led Emergence turns out to be, it's going to face an uphill climb.

Forecast

Ratings for This Is Us fell by more than 20 percent last season, yet it was still the top-rated show on Tuesdays by a wide margin. It could decline by the same percentage this season and still very likely be the No. 1 show of the night.

Similarly, it's unlikely any other network will seriously challenge CBS for total-viewer superiority. NCIS and FBI were both top-10 shows in that metric last season; among all the other broadcast shows on the night, only This Is Us even cracked the top 15.

Empire will face stiffer competition in its final season than it did last year on Fox, but the show's loyal base should be enough to carry it to the finish line with decent ratings. The Resident was one of the steadiest shows on TV in 2018-19, but it, too, will have somewhat heavier competition in the leadoff spot for Fox than it did on Mondays last season.

If The Conners can keep pulling ratings in line with where it ended last season — mid-1s in adults 18-49, rising to 2.0-2.2 after delayed viewing, ABC will take that. A solid run for the Roseanne spinoff could also help Bless This Mess, which started decently but faded toward the end of its short run last spring.

Arrow rejoins The Flash for its final season, and it will be interesting to see if the longest-running DC series on The CW gets any kind of bump for its last run. Recent history suggests final-season lifts aren't much of a thing anymore, but the short run leading up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover may help it a bit.