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Friday night strategy: Dollhouse, Flashpoint or...Supernanny?

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February 15th, 2009

TV Week's Sergio Ibarra has a good article up on the Friday night landscape and how different broadcast networks are approaching it.  It includes discussions on strategy raging from new, and more expensive series like Dollhouse, inexpensive imports like Flashpoint and reality fare a la Supernanny, Wife Swap and  Howie Do It.

Mr. Beckman said Fox’s gambit is one born of need, not ambition.

“One of the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing on Friday is we’re fortunate to have an embarrassment of riches,” he said. “We’re doing so well on all the other nights of the week that there’s really no room for these shows other than Friday. That’s a good problem to have.”

It’s too soon to say whether Fox’s strategy will work, but CBS has proven that risk can be rewarded on Friday.

CBS’ 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. dramas, “Ghost Whisperer” and “Numb3rs,” have drawn healthy audiences for several years now. And after stumbling with newcomer “The Ex List” in the fall, the network has found success at 9 p.m. with “Flashpoint,” a drama that had a successful summer run last year.

Overall, CBS has seen a 13% increase in total viewers and remained flat in viewers 18-49 this season, finishing first among all networks. CBS Primetime Senior Executive VP Kelly Kahl said the network’s consistency on the night has helped nurture its success.

“They’re shows that feel right for a Friday night,” Mr. Kahl said. “[They’re] successful shows, and people know where to find them.”

They’re also not breaking the bank, at least in the case of “Flashpoint.” That series costs CBS a fraction of what a typical one-hour drama costs, since it was originally produced for Canada’s CTV. That has allowed CBS to acquire episodes at a bargain rate.

Since moving to Friday, “Flashpoint” has averaged a 2.3/7 among adults 18-49 and 10.2 million viewers, outperforming “The Ex List” and last season’s “Moonlight.”

"You really can't expect the viewers to show up in droves," he said. "You have to take the night seriously."

Mr. Beckman, however, said Friday has not always been a priority for Fox.

"We generally schedule the other nights and then go, 'What will we do here?'" he said of the night.

If you're interested in the Friday night landscape, I recommend reading the full article.

 
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