WITH NO FOOTBALL NEXT YEAR, ABC NEEDS TO REBUILD MONDAYS

Despite Big Push, 'Emily' and 'Jake' Haven't Delivered

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ABC’s decision to pull “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” and “Jake in Progress” from last night’s lineup in favor of a “Bachelor” rerun is not only a bad sign for the two sitcoms, but also for the network. With “Monday Night Football” not returning next fall, ABC needs a schedule it can rely on to deliver the ratings.
It’s not a good sign that last Monday “Emily's Reasons Why Not,” starring Heather Graham, came in fourth place behind a repeat of Fox’s “House.”

While in most years the second half of the season just needed to be a filler -- something to tide the network over until football season –- this year “Monday Night Football” moves to ABC’s Walt Disney Co. sibling ESPN.

Borrowing from CBS
ABC has taken a page out of CBS’s playbook, promoting just a few shows to build up the schedule night by night, said Sam Armando, VP-director of broadcast investment research, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom USA, and “this midseason is all about Monday. After a couple of years, you’ve got that brand.”

So it’s not a good sign when last Monday “Emily,” starring Heather Graham, did a paltry 2.8 rating (percentage of households watching) and 7 share (percentage of TV sets tuned in in) -- good for fourth place behind a repeat of Fox’s “House.” ABC this week halted production on “Emily,” which is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Pariah.

“Last year when ‘The Bachelorette’ premiered everyone said the show had run its course,” Mr. Armando said. “If last year we all said it’s run its course and it did a 4, what does it mean when this year ['The Bachelor' also] does a 2.8 [adults 18-to-49]? ... The highest rated show on ABC [last Monday] was ‘Wife Swap’ -- the one they spent very little time promoting.”

Still riding high
The Disney-owned broadcaster is still riding high thanks to its Sunday and Wednesday night lineups, and in the fall concentrated much of its promotional efforts to tout Tuesday night’s “Commander in Chief,” which has given it a steady, if not spectacular, presence on that night.

ABC did not return a call seeking comment on its decision to alter the schedule by press time. Both comedies are expected to return next week in their 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. time period. This week CBS stacked its Monday night comedy block with reruns airing against Fox’s premiere of “24” NBC’s broadcast of the “Golden Globes.”

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