Thanks to DVR, VOD and streaming sites, time slots don’t wield nearly the same power they once did. But for all the increasing chatter that a show’s time period has no impact whatsoever, scheduling clearly remains a top priority for the broadcast networks. Look no further than NBC’s decision to move family drama This Is Us — the network’s biggest hit in a decade — from its cushy post-Voice cocoon on Tuesdays to Thursdays at 9 p.m. Or ABC’s idea to ship Black-ish, fresh off its first Emmy nomination for best comedy series, to Tuesdays to lead into rookie entry The Mayor.
Even Fridays, once an regarded as an unceremonial dumping ground, is getting not one but two fresh shots of adrenaline with new evening additions Blindspot and Once Upon a Time, the latter as it prepares for a major series revamp.
That increased competitiveness across the landscape is all the more exacerbated when taken into account the 39 new broadcast shows that will launch in the 2017-18 season.
So which shows are about to enter the danger zone? Which time periods will get the most DVR action? With the ink dry on those newly finalized network schedules, The Hollywood Reporter takes a deep dive to look at the most competitive hours come fall.
Tuesday, 9 p.m.: Black-ish (ABC) v. The Mick (Fox) v. Superstore (NBC) A year after expanding into a second, two-hour comedy block, ABC upped the ante by moving critical darling Black-ish to Tuesdays. There, the Kenya Barris comedy will face two of its strongest broadcast competitors in America Ferrera’s Superstore and Kaitlin Olson’s The Mick. The more veteran Black-ish easily wins with a 2.5 rating in the key demo and 7.5 million viewers, but will lack of lead-in Modern Family lead-in leave a mark? And while The Mick has a slight edge in the demo (1.9 adults vs. 1.8 adults), Superstore has higher overall viewership (5.3 million viewers vs. 4.9 million). Thankfully, the two single-camera comedies’ notably distinct tones (family friendly workplace hijinks versus the drinking, swearing and everything Olson gets away with on The Mick) might make room for both.
Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.: The Mayor (ABC) v. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) v. The Good Place (NBC)
Part of ABC’s decision to move Black-ish to Tuesdays was so it could lead-in to first-year comedy The Mayor, from Hamilton star Daveed Diggs. The fish-out-of-water single-camera may strike a similar tone to the decidedly more serialized The Good Place (1.9 adults). The latter move will see exec producer Mike Schur go up against … himself, with Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.5 adults) also moving to the later time period after entering bubble status in its fourth season.
Thursday, 8 p.m.: Will & Grace (NBC) v. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
TV’s No. 1 comedy will battle TV’s (former) No. 1 comedy when NBC puts it highly anticipated Will & Grace up against The Big Bang Theory on Thursdays. While the former will get a brief reprieve thanks to CBS’ Thursday Night Football, once Big Bang returns, it will come armed with prequel spinoff series Young Sheldon. (Sorry, Great News.) Big Bang is averaging a 3.2 rating in the demo, but just how much of Will & Grace‘s once 25 million total viewership will tune back in is a big question mark that could go two very different ways. (See: Fox’s The X-Files, NBC’s Heroes Reborn.)
Thursday, 9 p.m.: This Is Us (NBC) v. Scandal (ABC)
This will be the must-see battle of the fall, following NBC’s decision to move freshman smash This Is Us to Thursdays. The weepy drama is a powerhouse in both the demo (4.8 adults) and total viewers (15.2 million) but news that the seventh season of Scandal will be its last may help the fading Shonda Rhimes drama get back up to its fighting weight. And while two of broadcast’s biggest female-skewing series go head-to-head, the guys will have something to talk about too when Thursday Night Football airs opposite Seth MacFarlane’s first live-action series, the space-set satire The Orville on Fox.
Friday, 8 p.m.: Once Upon a Time (ABC) v. Blindspot (NBC) v. MacGyver (CBS)
CBS has long found success on the otherwise quiet Fridays with long-running procedurals Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-0. At long last, the network filled the final piece of the puzzle with a retooled MacGyver reboot. Now ABC and NBC want in on the action. Sure, both Once Upon a Time (1.6 adults) and Blindspot (1.8 adults) have seen better days, the serialized dramas still draw fiercely loyal fan bases (hence their renewals.) While MacGyver is much more heavy on testosterone than its new competition, Blindspot is also heavy on the action sequences and mysteries the reboot has become known for.