With the fall TV schedule now complete (below), we get to step back and take a look at the hellish battleground that broadcast hath wrought. There’s some very tough-to-predict match-ups this fall:*
Tim Allen vs. Whitney Cummings (Fridays, 8-9): “No, my show’s lamer!” ABC and NBC have their low-expectations comedies airing on Fridays this fall, and they might run head-to-head depending on when NBC launches (ABC’s comedies premiere in November). NBC has Whitney and Community and ABC has Last Man Standing and new comedy Malibu Country. (Community fans, if your ass beat by Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin, we have no words for you). At least 9 p.m. shows Shark Tank and Grimm will have half-way decent lead-ins for once. Our prediction: Edge goes to ABC.
Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera: OK, so one this is kind of a cheat. The Voice and X Factor won’t air on the same nights, let along in the same time period. But if you think their lack of head-to-head scheduling will matter to the media, you deserve to be hit, baby, one more time. Everybody will obsess over how these two compare. NBC’s The Voice has the wind at its back, averaging 6.2 in the adult demo this season compared to X Factor‘s 4.4. We all want to see how Spears handles the reality show spotlight, but many wonder if she can pull off being entertaining and analytical. Mark Burnett cast The Voice with big names who are charismatic and have the cojones to criticize a singer. Simon Cowell seems to like big names — who are just big names. Prediction: You can’t hold down Xtina.
Two and a Half Men vs everything else (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.): My have times changed. Back in the day, Men was the star that helped to launch new comedies. Now it’s been reduced to living in The Big Bang Theory’s shadow on Thursday. Has CBS lost confidence in the franchise? Prediction: Even at its advanced age, Men being reunited with its former Monday night partner Big Bang will dominate the slot.
Revenge vs. The Good Wife (Sundays at 9 p.m.): Who’s afraid of the big bad Sunday night? When ABC announced Revenge was moving to Sundays, fan reaction was like the show was being shipped off to Oxygen. There are still a ton of viewers watching on Sundays, but it’s not the easiest place for serious broadcast dramas to compete: Smart and sophisticated programs on HBO, Showtime and AMC remain the must-watch priority for many viewers (which might be one reason Fox’s animated comedies thrive here — they’re great counter programming). Prediction: While Good Wife is unlikely to grow, Revenge — currently higher rated than Good Wife — will gain a stronger lead-in thanks to Once Upon a Time than it typically received on Wednesday nights and could plot a victory.
Kaling & Deschanel vs. Perry & Van Der Beek (Tuesdays, 9-10): Look at the 9 p.m. hour on Tuesday. No really, look at it: Six comedies on three networks. It’s a sitcom sigalert, a comedy battle royale. Fox was starting to get some traction with its comedy block on Tuesdays, so now everybody is loading up with their own half hours in this space. At 9 p.m., Zooey Deschanel will face off against Matthew Perry’s new NBC comedy Go On and ABC’s Happy Endings, while 9:30 p.m. has Mindy Kaling’s new comedy The Mindy Project vs. Ryan Murphy’s inspired new show called The New Normal and ABC’s Jason Van Der Beek starrer Apt. 23. Lead-in will matter: Go On will have The Voice and Happy Endings will have Dancing With the Stars. Prediction: Super tough to call against so many shows we haven’t yet seen. We’ll give incumbent New Girl the odds at 9. At 9:30, The Mindy Project might – might — squeeze out a victory given Apt. 23‘s recent modest ratings and the fact The New Normal is on NBC, which has had a rough track record for launching new shows. (At the same time, New Normal played a lot better at the upfronts this week with advertisers while Mindy came across as a show in need of a … show. Just saying.)
Glee vs. Grey’s Anatomy vs. Person of Interest (Thursdays, 9-10): Grey’s Anatomy is higher rated but Glee will have a better lead-in with The X Factor. Still, both shows appeal to a similar female demographic — assuming the chicks will still be invested in Glee once they learn who may go next season. (For more on who may be out the door on Glee, click here). That’s why CBS may have a real opportunity; while Fox and ABC duke it out over the females, the men may throw their hands up and see what’s up with Jesus’, er, Jim Cavaziel’s show. Prediction: Grey’s by a nose (in 18-49). Glee by a mile (in young viewers). This one is gonna be juicy.
*Do time periods still matter? Yup, otherwise networks could run shows at 3 a.m. and expect to get the same rating at 9 p.m. In fact, even factoring DVR use, shows running against heavy time-period competition are still likely to have a lower rating than a show up against repeats. Plus, advertisers and networks place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on live or near-live viewing.