Last fall, the five English broadcast networks scheduled a total of 51 hours weekly of non-repeat scripted entertainment during primetime. The breakdown was as follows: Fox (9 hours), ABC (11 hours), NBC (originally scheduled 8 hours, reduced to 7 hours when Dateline replaced Southland prior to its premiere), CBS (16 hours), CW (8 hours).
This season I’d expect the following:
Fox (7-10 hours): I expect to Fox to go all unscripted on Fridays, dropping 2 hours from last fall. The wildcard is what Fox decides to do with the 3 hours that were So You Think You Can Dance?. If it keeps it on the schedule one more fall, that means just 7 hours of scripted programming.
ABC (10-11 hours): I also expect ABC to go all unscripted on Fridays. The question is whether Shark Tank returns on the early fall schedule on Tuesday as it did in fall 2009 or whether that hour goes scripted.
NBC (9-10 hours): I expect NBC to be all unscripted on Fridays as well, but to have scripted shows at 10pm Monday-Thursday to quiet its affiliates (as I would expect ABC and CBS to do). I expect Marriage Ref to be back in fall 2010. Depending on its ratings to finish the spring, it might be scheduled Monday-Thursday leaving 3 other unscripted hours on Friday (almost certainly including Dateline).
CBS (15 hours): Undercover Boss is coming back, but CBS has not announced how many episodes are ordered. That will reduce their scripted shows by an hour if its for a full season. I don’t expect any other structural changes in the CBS schedule.
CW (8 hours): I’d expect no changes in the scripted/unscripted balance in the CW schedule.
Estimated total scripted primetime hours: 49-54 hours
The biggest swing factor in those numbers is Fox’s decision on So You Think You Can Dance’s 3 hours.
What’s your guess?