Edit: Schedule grid updated on 5/27/08 for CW's Sunday night announcements.
As badly as the CW has done this season, its hard to imagine they'll do worse next season. They've already sold off Sunday night to a third party. What else are they going to try next fall to reverse their slide?
Two of the six of the new CW Fall 2007 shows (Reaper, Gossip Girl) introduced in Fall 2007 survive into Fall 2008. The three new shows introduced for Fall 2008 (90210, Surviving The Filthy Rich, Stylista) seem targeted much more directly at young women than the shows they replace.
Unlike ABC, CW is cutting back significantly on its unscripted programming., going from 7 hours in Fall 2007 to 3 hours in the Fall of 2008. Losing Friday Night Smackdown is going to hurt their numbers substantially, but the loss of the disastrous reality hour from 7-8 Sunday (CW Now, Online Nation) is going to help. It's not clear to me that Stylista outdoes Beauty & The Geek.
I don't know whether the now sold Sunday night will count with the CW weekly Nielsen numbers. If it doesn't, I think the CW has a reasonable chance to hold even vs. this year on an average viewer/demo adults basis. They're only programming 10 hours a week, and dropped their worst performers from this year. I think they could stabilize at what is admittedly a low level.
It seems that Mon-Wed are girls nights, Thursday is SciFi/Fantasy Night (boys also welcome), and Friday is African American night. It certainly seems thematically logical, but will it work?
However, if that happens, and MyNetworkTV continues to see its numbers rise (particularly with the addition of Friday Night Smackdown) I think they could approach the CW's numbers next year. Passed by Univision this year, how would the CW handle being passed by MyNetworkTV next year?
7/19 Update: CW has announced its Fall 2008 premiere dates.
CW Fall 2007 Schedule Shows vs. Fall 2008 Schedule Shows
|8-8:30p||EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS||GOSSIP GIRL(8-9p)|
|8:30-9p||ALIENS IN AMERICA|
|ONE TREE HILL (9-10p)|
|8-9p||BEAUTY & THE GEEK||90210|
|8-9p||AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL||AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL|
|8-8:30p||FRIDAY NIGHT SMACKDOWN (8-10p)||EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS|
|9-10p||AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL (ENC)|
|7-7:30p||CW NOW||IN HARM'S WAY (630-730p)|
|7:30-8p||ONLINE NATION||SURVIVING SUBURBIA|
|8-9p||LIFE IS WILD||VALENTINE, INC.|
|9-10p||AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL [R]||EASY MONEY|
Shows in BOLD CAPS are/were new, shows in italics are unscripted, 2007 shows in strikethrough did not return.
Reaper is slated to return in mid-season.
I didn't think it was worthwhile to compare the announced Winter 2009 and future schedules to this years for two reasons. One, this years Winter and Spring schedules were somewhat cobbled together in response to the writers strike. Two, schedules announced so far in advance have a habit of changing.