Research IDs top 20 new shows

Firm says breakouts to include 'NCIS' spinoff, 'Jay Leno'

While the fall TV season is still a good two months down the road, a New York-based research company already has a bead on which new shows are likely to break out in 2009-10.

After subjecting the fall slate to a comprehensive review, NewMediaMetrics' predictive analysis suggests that CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles" should scare up big ratings Tuesdays at 9 p.m. while NBC's "The Jay Leno Show" could prove to be a powerhouse at 10 p.m., particularly on Tuesdays.

Also promising: ABC's "FlashForward," which leads off the network's Thursday lineup; NBC's Monday 9 p.m. hospital drama "Trauma"; Fox's "Family Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show," set for Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; and the CW's "Vampire Diaries," which will hold down the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot.

Other new series flagged by NewMediaMetrics are ABC's "The Forgotten," Fox musical comedy "Glee" and the 1-2 punch of "Cougar Town" and "Eastwick," which will cap ABC's Wednesday lineup this fall.

Including midseason replacements "V" and "Happy Town," ABC boasts nine of the top 20 new shows, according to NMM analysis. This season marks the fifth in which the researcher has predicted the outcome of the fall schedule; last year, NMM's picks resulted in an 86.4% accuracy rate.

NMM's success rate has been steady since it first began calling the outcome of the fall broadcast season in 2005. That year, the company predicted that Fox' "Prison Break" and CBS' "Criminal Minds" would be breakout hits; meanwhile, it gave low marks to the largely forgotten NBC ensemble drama "Inconceivable" and Fox' "Head Cases," which was yanked after two episodes.

Of the projected top 20 new shows, six are either spinoffs or revisitations of long-ago properties. Leno's new show is the fall's "known unknown": The host is a familiar property, although the new format remains something of an enigma.

In addition to Tuesdays, NMM believes the variety show will get good traction on Thursday nights as well. (Those shows will benefit from a wealth of high-profile film talent, as the studios will look to trot out their A-listers on the night before films typically open.)

NMM co-founders Gary Reisman and Denise Larson noted that while no one has seen a final blueprint for the new Leno program, the elevated expectations are a function of viewers' "emotional attachment" to the comedian. Per NMM's findings, 17% of Leno's core demo gave him a score of at least 9 out of 10. That attachment translates into a group much more likely to watch "Leno" than anything else in the time period.

The NMM team's research model is derived from the methods developed by Jonathan Bowlby, the British behaviorist who in the 1940s developed a methodological approach to quantifying the emotional bond between mothers and children.