"Fall" TV 2020: The Full Broadcast Schedule

While nobody knows when production will actually resume, two very different strategies have emerged at the broadcast networks.
Virginia Sherwood/NBC; ABC/Jessica Brooks
"Law & Order: SVU" and "Grey's Anatomy" will go head-to-head — at some point — whenever the 2020-21 broadcast season can get back to normal.

There is no traditional fall schedule for the 2020-21 broadcast season.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed has turned the TV industry, like so many others, on its ear. Production on scripted and unscripted series was shut down in mid-March and a path back to work remains unclear as the guilds continue to hammer out new safety protocols that would allow cameras to roll again. Only it's unclear when that is.

With that in mind, the schedules at the five broadcast networks have been the most heavily affected. Dozens of scripted series, like Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU, were shut down before wrapping work on their 2019-20 seasons and a timeline for when they can safely return to work remains up in the air. Network executives have had to make new series pickups based almost exclusively on scripts as pilot season was effectively wiped out. Schedulers at ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW have spent the past three months having a series of anxiety attacks as they tried to plan for an uncertain future while having more questions than answers.

As a result, two different scheduling patterns have emerged for whatever becomes of the 2020-21 broadcast season.

Fox and The CW used what would have been their upfront day to release a "corona-proof" schedule that relies heavily on programming that was already completed — including such "gently used" programming as Spectrum's L.A.'s Finest and foreign acquisition Devils, starring Patrick Dempsey. Both networks will, in success, aim to have scripted originals back on starting in January 2021 as they hope productions can get back to work and the fight against COVID-19 improves.

ABC, CBS and NBC, meanwhile, are focused on keeping business as usual and are essentially have crossed their fingers that production can resume sooner rather than later and fan favorites like mega-hit NCIS can be back on the schedule sometime in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Executives at all three networks are cautiously optimistic that their programming will all eventually form a coherent schedule. Yet brass at ABC, NBC and CBS all believe that nothing will be ready for Premiere Week, the late September week that has traditionally launched the fall season. Instead, the expectation is that some programs will be ready sooner than others and could return on a cascading basis with comedies, dramas and unscripted fare launching anytime between September and as late as December.

Of course, a potential "second wave" of the global pandemic could force production to shut down a second time despite current greenlights from local governments including L.A.  

In terms of the actual schedules, ABC is betting that unscripted series will have an easier path back to work and has sacrificed hours of scripted comedies to make way for The Bachelorette, Supermarket Sweep and more. As for the few new series that have been picked up for next season, those are largely being held for midseason to allow time to actually film a pilot. (Additional series pickups are also expected to come, pending network needs and filming considerations.)

Below is the current best-case scenario schedule for each of the networks. Premiere dates, however, are anyone's guess. (The CW's listings first feature the fall lineup followed by 2021 plan.)

(Guide: New shows in all caps. Asterisks designate new time slots.)

MONDAY

8 p.m.
L.A.’s Finest (Fox)
Whose Line Is It Anyway / All American (The CW)
The Neighborhood (CBS)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
The Voice (NBC)

8:30 p.m.
Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)

9 p.m. 
NEXT (Fox)
Penn & Teller: Fool Us / Black Lightning (The CW)
All Rise (CBS)

10 p.m.
Bull (CBS)
The Good Doctor (ABC)
Manifest (NBC)

TUESDAY

8 p.m. 
Cosmos: Possible Worlds (Fox)
Swamp Thing / The Flash (The CW)
NCIS (CBS)
The Bachelorette (ABC)
The Voice (NBC)

9 p.m. 
FILTHY RICH (Fox)
Tell Me a Story / SUPERMAN & LOIS (The CW)
FBI (CBS)
This Is Us (NBC)

10 p.m.
FBI: Most Wanted (CBS)
BIG SKY (ABC)
New Amsterdam (NBC)

WEDNESDAY

8 p.m. 
The Masked Singer (Fox)
Devils / Riverdale (The CW)
Survivor (CBS)
The Goldbergs (ABC)
Chicago Med (NBC)

8:30 p.m.
Devils / Riverdale (The CW)
Black-ish* (ABC)

9 p.m. 
MasterChef Junior (Fox)
Coroner / Nancy Drew (The CW)
The Amazing Race (CBS)
The Conners* (ABC)
Chicago Fire (NBC)

9:30 p.m.
American Housewife (ABC)

10 p.m.
SEAL Team (CBS)
Chicago P.D. (NBC)
Stumptown (ABC)

THURSDAY

7:30-8 p.m.
Fox NFL Thursday (Fox)

8 p.m. 
Thursday Night Football (Fox)
Supernatural / WALKER (The CW)
Young Sheldon (CBS)
Station 19 (ABC)
Superstore (NBC)

8:30 p.m.
B POSITIVE (CBS)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)

9 p.m.
The Outpost / Legacies (The CW)
Mom (CBS)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Law & Order: SVU* (NBC)

9:30 p.m.
The Unicorn (CBS)

10 p.m.
Evil (CBS)
A Million Little Things (ABC)
LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME (NBC)

FRIDAY

8 p.m.
WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown (Fox)
World's Funniest Animals / Penn & Teller: Fool Us (The CW)
MacGyver (CBS)
Shark Tank* (ABC)
The Blacklist (NBC)

9 p.m.
Penn and Teller: Fool Us / Whose Line Is It Anyway? (The CW)
Magnum PI (CBS)
20/20 (ABC)
Dateline (NBC)

10 p.m.
Blue Bloods

SATURDAY

7 p.m.
Fox Sports Saturday (Fox)

8 p.m.
Crimetime Saturday (CBS)
Saturday Night Football (ABC)
Dateline (NBC)

9 p.m.
Crimetime Saturday (CBS)

10 p.m.
48 Hours (CBS)
Saturday Night Live encores(NBC)

SUNDAY

7 p.m.
NFL on Fox (Fox)
60 Minutes (CBS)
America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
Football Night in America (NBC)

7:30 p.m.
The OT / Fox Encores (Fox)

8 p.m. 
The Simpsons (Fox)
Masters of Illusion / Batwoman (The CW)
THE EQUALIZER (CBS)
SUPERMARKET SWEEP (ABC)

8:20 p.m.
Sunday Night Football (NBC)

8:30 p.m. 
Bless the Harts (Fox)

9 p.m.
Bob’s Burgers (Fox)
Pandora / Charmed (The CW)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Who Wants to be a Millionaire* (ABC)

9:30 p.m. 
Family Guy (Fox)

10 p.m.
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
The Rookie (ABC)