'CSI' Pegged as Share Leader for Fall Season

NBC Changes Won't Make Thursdays Easier, but Help 'Studio 60'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hammered last year for keeping its faltering Thursday-night schedule intact, NBC didn't waste any time responding to ABC's assault on the most lucrative night of the week.
Matthew Perry of 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.'
Photo Credit: Mitch Haaseth

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Late last week, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly announced nine schedule changes, one aimed at protecting NBC's second-place position on Thursday nights now that it will face ABC's hit "Grey's Anatomy." The network is switching out the freshman show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" at 9 p.m. in favor of game show "Deal or No Deal."

Media agencies largely applauded the move. "'Deal or No Deal' is much better counter-programming on Thursday, and this at least gives 'Studio 60' a chance to find an audience," said Steve Sternberg, Magna Global's exec VP-director of audience analysis.

Not enough for second place
Still, agency share estimates for the fourth quarter (midseason estimates are not yet compiled) suggest the move won't be enough to keep NBC in second place in the time period.

Numbers provided to Advertising Age by agencies across the board project CBS's "CSI" will remain the show grabbing the most share on the grid, pulling in an estimated 21.6. That's down from last year's estimated 24.5. (One household share point is 1% of the U.S. households watching TV, or 1.09 million households. The U.S. has 109.6 million TV households, according to Nielsen Media research.)

Research chiefs predict that "Grey's" will come in slightly behind "CSI" with an 18 share. "Deal or No Deal" is projected to win NBC third place in the time slot with 10.3, slightly lower than last year's estimate of 13 for "The Apprentice."

The scheduling shift does seem to work in NBC's favor, however, since original estimates for "Studio 60" projected it would earn an 8.6. The Aaron Sorkin drama, which also will benefit from major promotion during NBC's "Sunday Night Football," got a better projection from researchers, who believe its new slot on Mondays at 10 p.m. will earn it an 11.6 share.

Weakness on Wednesdays
"'Studio 60' will have a far greater chance of succeeding on Mondays," said Shari Anne Brill, Carat's VP-programming. But while she thinks NBC is better off on Thursdays and Fridays, "they hurt themselves on Wednesday. Across the five nights where changes were made, they pretty much break even from a share perspective."

"The 'Studio 60' and 'Kidnapped' moves were smart and give the programs a better chance at finding an audience," said John Clifton, OMD director-broadcast media. "Moving the Wednesday sitcoms to 8 p.m. is more questionable. Although they are away from ABC's 'Lost,' they lose the potential lead-in of 'The Biggest Loser.'"

Of the new shows, the brightest future is expected for CBS's James Woods drama "Shark," which is projected to win a 15.6 in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot. It faces NBC stalwart "ER," which is expected to lose some steam this season and bring in a 13.6.

Housewives vs. football
Agencies still believe ABC will win Sundays with "Desperate Housewives" staying on top with a 19 share (not as strong as last year's estimate of 21). NBC's "Sunday Night Football" is projected to bring in a 14 share.

ABC's new entry, "Saturday Night College Football," is expected to earn an 8 share, an improvement on the ABC movie, which was a 7 in last year's share estimate chart.

One of last year's most promising shows, UPN's "Everybody Loves Chris," was expected to earn a 5.5, but it aired Thursdays at 8 p.m. against stiff competition. This year, it moves to Sunday nights at 7 on the CW, and buyers are less bullish, projecting a 4.3.

My Network TV
This fall a new network hits the streets with a decidedly novel premise. Fox Station Group's offering, named My Network TV, will air from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with two telenovela programs, "Desire" and "Secret Obsessions." Each serial will have a 13-week story arc with a new story starting every three months. Researchers estimated a 2 share for the first show under the "Desire" label, a racy serial called "Table for Three." The second show, under the "Secret Obsessions" theme, is "Fashion House," starring Bo Derek, which agencies also assigned a 2 share.

My Network TV has 82% distribution and is expected to be at 90% by launch in September.
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