DVR Gridlock 2012-13: Thursday Nights
The biggest money night of the TV week just gets more competitive
[This week, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned.]
ABC: "Last Resort"
The CW: "The Vampire Diaries"
FOX: "The X Factor" (and then "Idol")
NBC: "30 Rock," "Up All Night"
ABC: "Grey's Anatomy"
CBS: "Person of Interest"
The CW: "Beauty and the Beast"
NBC: "The Office," "Parks and Recreation"
NBC: "Rock Center"
What's Changed: CBS has made the big moves, shifting "Two and a Half Men" to form an 8:30 super-block and shipping "The Mentalist" to Sundays to launch "Elementary." Other alterations include "Beauty and the Beast" as the latest show to pass through the revolving door post-"Vampire Diaries" slot, ABC's latest in a seemingly endless series of 8 p.m. dramas and FOX's transplanting of "Glee."
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: CBS' 8 p.m. hour last year was weird, because you had "Big Bang Theory" consistently beating "Idol" or " Factor" and then big drops to "Rules of Engagement" or "How To Be a Gentleman" or "Rob," even though all of those shows would have outdrawn every other comedy on every other network other than "Modern Family." So now, CBS has placed another hit comedy after "Big Bang Theory" and it's fairly likely that the retention problem should be solved. That'll have a ripple effect everywhere else, particularly on "Person of Interest," which was a freshman hit, but seems headed for growth, possibly significant growth. A stronger 8:30 and 9:00 performance from CBS bodes ill for any and all competition. ABC's approach with "Last Resort" seems counter-intuitive, but maybe a male-skewing drama is exactly what the network needs to succeed in a time slot that definitely doesn't have any direct competition. "Grey's Anatomy" has been a total self-starter at 9 p.m. for so long it's impossible to guess what would happen if it ever had a less-than-dreadful lead-in, but that would probably boost ABC's whole night. Meanwhile, expect NBC to continue to lose to Univision and expect "Beauty and the Beast" to follow the familiar post-"Vampire Diaries" pattern with a strong premiere, a big drop and a spring on the bubble. Oh and "Glee" gets a boost. How big of a boost depends on the aforementioned (on Wednesday) Britney Bump or Britney Lack-of-Bump.
My Predicted DVR: This is a night on which many of my DVR decisions are based on OnDemand ease. For example, in the 8 p.m. hour (when I watch "X Factor" on ET for recapping), I prefer "30 Rock" to "Big Bang Theory" by a wide margin, but while NBC makes it easy, fast and convenient to watch "30 Rock" on other platforms, CBS makes it difficult/cumbersome/impossible to watch "Big Bang Theory" elsewhere. Then again, if "Last Resort" turns out to be good, I'll probably just record that and "Vampire Diaries," watch "30 Rock" OnDemand and ditch "Big Bang Theory" entirely, even though watching ABC shows OnDemand is also easy. The 9 p.m. hour is an even bigger mess, only partially relieved by the fact that I won't be watching "Beauty and the Beast." "Glee," which I watch for perfunctory reasons anyway, is destined for OnDemand, as is "Grey's Anatomy," allowing me to record "Person of Interest" (another inconvenient show to catch up on) and "Parks and Rec" (and, I guess, "The Office). Or maybe I'll reverse "Grey's Anatomy" and those NBC comedies. The 10 p.m. hour will be "Scandal" and, depending on its ongoing quality, "Elementary." That's a lot of TV.