Don't look now, but if the early indications for the season mean anything, ABC will no doubt sooner or later go the route of having several nights a week of 10pm programming that is unscripted. I'd bet sooner. It won't be Leno-esque and I don't see them changing anything Sundays or Thursdays, but it increasingly seems inevitable. Friday is already unscripted at 10pm (20/20) and Saturday is already off the map as far as new scripted content goes.
But the results early in the season for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday suggest that ABC's failure at 10pm those nights is a trend that has not been easy for the network to reverse.
So far this week in the preliminary overnights, Castle has pulled a 2.3 adutls 18-49 rating, The Forgotten a 2.0 (and losing to Leno at that!) and Eastwick a 2.4. With the exception of Castle, which was flat, the shows are all down from their premieres.
Will ABC keep swimming upstream, or will it (mostly) throw in the towel at 10pm like NBC has done?
The Forgotten has already lived up to its name, and though Castle may be stable, but will ABC be OK with even a stable 2.3 rating? My guess is no.
The jig isn't up for Eastwick just yet perhaps, but droping from a 3.0 to a 2.4 is never a healthy sign, and even if it stabilizes at a 2.4...see Castle.
So far, it's all adding up to ABC needing to do something else with 10pm. Will something else be still more new scripted dramas to replace existing mediocre performers, or will it be unscripted content? I think the latter is very likely, if not this season, next. And I don't think we'll see anywhere near the level of vitriol directed at ABC for doing so as we've seen with NBC/Leno if/when ABC announces it.
Let the cries of "OMG, can't they see how having Leno on at 10pm on NBC has wrecked all of primetime for NBC" begin!