With both 24 and Lost ending their runs this May and with a Simon-less American Idol next January, Variety's Michael Schneider ponders the possibilities.
No Mid-Season Schedules at the Upfront?
But with fewer major pieces being saved for January next year (not to mention, no Winter Olympics disruption), another exec said there may also be a return to traditional scheduling -- or at least, a traditional fall-only announcement at the upfronts.
As opposed to planning for the midseason launches. It will be more of an evaluation in the fall, and then you'll decide what works best," an exec says.
In recent years the networks have made a practice of announcing mid-season lineups for the upcoming TV season at the May upfronts. But we never pay very much attention to those mid-season lineups because they seem to change a lot by the time January rolls around.
The departures of 24 and Lost leave Fox and ABC one less show each to announce for their mid-season schedules, but more interesting is how ABC, CBS and NBC might react to the absence of Simon Cowell on American Idol.
Sharks Circling A Weakened Idol?
Many people are predicting that without Simon, Idol will flounder and that ultimately Cowell's X-Factor (which isn't launching until the fall of 2011) will be Fox's hot property. Even if American Idol is down drastically as a percentage without Cowell, it could still be a hit for a few seasons.
That might give Fox's rivals reason to make some moves in the fall they might not have otherwise done.
You had this huge headwind that you were going up against, this hurricane you were facing in midseason," one Fox rival says. "It's still an important force, but less so."
Ultimately, I don't see the networks making drastic changes with their approaches to Idol. CBS has been fairly impervious on Tuesday nights, and I doubt Idol will factor much into CBS's plans for its Wednesday comedy block. ABC already launched a two hour comedy block on Wednesdays, and Modern Family has shown it can withstand Idol. Simon or no Simon, it seems reasonable that ABC was going to stick with a Wednesday 8p-10p comedy block regardless.
The Biggest Loser has typically held up pretty well against Idol. They no doubt have a lot of executives discussing how to turn it around. But it's been such a mess that it's hard for me to envision those executives spending much time thinking about how best to capitalize on a potentially weakened American Idol.
What Will Fox Air After the Super Bowl?
Schneider notes that the mid-season winter, when more people are home watching TV can still be the right time to launch for the right property. He also cites the success of CBS's Undercover Boss, which received a big Super Bowl boost and I'd note that "Boss" wasn't part of CBS's mid-season plans at last May's upfront.
Fox has the Super Bowl in 2011. The last time it had it in 2008, it aired an episode of House after the game.