[Over the next six days, 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. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments.]
ABC: "Last Man Standing," "The Neighbors"
CBS: "Undercover Boss"
FOX: "Junior Masterchef," "Bones
The CW: "America's Next Top Model"
FOX: "Sleepy Hollow" encores and "Raising Hope," "Enlisted"
CBS: "Blue Bloods"
What's Changed: Credit the networks for trying to do new things on Friday night and for continuing to try to buck the conventional wisdom that Friday airings mean death. "Grimm" will be starting its third season on Fridays. "Last Man Standing" will be in its second Friday season. And that's saying nothing of established successes like "Blue Bloods" on CBS and ABC's "Shark Tank." Friday Night Lives! And this fall, FOX will bring still-fairly-robust success "Bones" to Friday, while CBS is doing the same with the slightly-less-robust "Hawaii Five-0." And then you have a few flashy new shows. NBC will try semi-literary, star-driven drama in the 10 p.m. hour with "Dracula" and then "Crossbones." [Did this work last time NBC tried it with a little show called "Crusoe"? Well, no. But you've forgotten "Crusoe" even existed and I apologize for the reminder.] FOX, meanwhile, is planning an isolated comedy block starting mid-fall, if you assume that "Raising Hope" and "Enlisted" will ever actually air on Fridays. And then there's The CW's "Carrie Diaries," which failed on Mondays, so surely it'll succeed on Friday, right? There's a lot of stuff happening on Friday.
How the Ratings Race Is Impacted: CBS is still likely to dominate Friday overall, but you've gotta credit the network with trying to narrow the gap. "Hawaii Five-0," which only remains on the air due to its international viability, won't come close to equalling the 9-ish million viewers "CSI: NY" was drawing here, though it may keep up with "CSI: NY" in the key demographic. Assuming that "Shark Tank" has another solid summer of repeat sampling, it may be strong enough to help ABC win the night among adults 18-49 all on its own. There are several plausible x-factors. FOX has teased a "Bones" move to Friday several times in the past. Is this just another bluff? If "Sleepy Hollow" fails fast and hard, for example, why wouldn't FOX just keep "Bones" on Monday and shift "Almost Human" to 9 p.m.? Similarly, if "Dads" fails fast and hard, why wouldn't FOX shift established cult favorite "Raising Hope" to a Tuesday 8 p.m. slot it has occupied in the past? And if that happens, what would becoming of that Friday comedy block? I'm not sure both of those failures/shifts are likely, but one of them? I'd almost guarantee it. If "Bones" somehow remains on Fridays, though, it could/should give FOX its best numbers on the night in several years and could make the network competitive in the key demo. Similarly, what if somehow "Dracula" capitalizes on its brand name and maybe star Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Maybe that's enough to combine with the already-respectable "Grimm" to help NBC take the key demo. It'll also be worth watching to see how low numbers for "Carrie Diaries" are and if The CW suddenly finds itself thinking a six-episode final season for "Nikita" isn't quite long enough. It's actually surprising how many strange things could be afoot on Fridays this fall.
My Predicted DVR: During the spring with "Nikita" and "Happy Endings" and "Vegas" and something I'm forgetting -- I don't want to admit how many episodes of "Cult" I watched -- my DVR was recording steadily on Friday nights. That could continue to be the case this year. I'll stick with "Carrie Diaries" and "Bones" at 8 p.m. and "Raising Hope" (and occasionally "Shark Tank") in the 9 p.m. hour. And I'll definitely give "Dracula" an extended shot in the otherwise-vacant 10 p.m. hour. That's a lot of Friday TV viewing and doesn't include the occasional Starz drama or whatnot.
How have the new schedules impacted your Fridays?