Fall TV 2016: Tuesday night forecast for ‘Bull,’ ‘This Is Us,’ ‘The Middle’ and more

fall-2016-tuesday-forecast

The 2016-17 TV season is just seven weeks away. As fall approaches, TV by the Numbers will be looking at each night of the broadcast networks’ schedule to identify competitive timeslots, see which newcomers have a real shot at success and which veteran shows will keep their ratings up.

Next up is Tuesday, which features a couple of the best-positioned new shows of the season — on paper, at least — a long-time ABC Wednesday staple moving to a new night and a small shakeup at 10 p.m.

The lineup
All times are ET/PT. New shows in italics.

Network 8 p.m. 8:30 p.m. 9 p.m. 9:30 p.m. 10 p.m. 10:30 p.m.
ABC The Middle (Oct. 11) American Housewife (Oct. 11) Fresh Off the Boat (Oct. 11) The Real O’Neals (Oct. 11) Agents of SHIELD (Sept. 20)
CBS NCIS (Sept. 20) Bull (Sept. 20) NCIS: New Orleans (Sept. 20)
The CW The Flash (Oct. 4) No Tomorrow (Oct. 4)
FOX Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sept. 20) New Girl (Sept. 20) Scream Queens (Sept. 20)
NBC The Voice (Sept. 20) This Is Us (Oct. 11; 2 weeks at 10 p.m. starting Sept. 20) Chicago Fire (Oct. 11)

 

The incumbents

“The Voice” and “NCIS” ranked 1-2 on Tuesday last season, and there’s little reason to think they won’t stay in the top spots this season.

The newbies

Three new shows will air in the 9 o’clock hour, all of them airing after one of their networks’ top shows: CBS’ “Bull” follows “NCIS,” NBC’s “This Is Us” comes after “The Voice” (more on “Bull” and “This Is Us” below) and The CW’s “No Tomorrow” flows out of “The Flash.” ABC adds a new comedy, “American Housewife,” between established shows “The Middle” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

The battle

By giving them such prominent timeslots, CBS and NBC have signaled that they are betting on success from “Bull” and “This Is Us.” They are also very different shows, which may mean there’s room for both to breathe at 9 p.m.

“Bull” is arguably the CBS-iest CBS show around: It’s a legal procedural led by well-loved “NCIS” star Michael Weatherly (who left that series at the end of last season) and based on the pre-talk show career of Phil McGraw as a trial consultant. It’s visually slick, full of fancy technology and promises resolution at the end of each 43 minutes.

“This Is Us,” on the other hand, is a character-based show about the intertwining personal lives of a group of people. Those who have seen the pilot can’t stop raving about it, and NBC seems to be aiming to make it the hit “Parenthood” never quite was. It will likely get a massive marketing push during the Olympics.

Both shows are sandwiched between strong performers — “Bull” between “NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans,” “This Is Us” between “The Voice” and “Chicago Fire.” At first blush they seem unlikely to cannibalize each other’s audience, so it will be very interesting to see whether they can both put up strong numbers.

The wildcards

“The Middle” audience, or a very large portion of it, will probably follow the show to Tuesday nights. How much it carries over to the rest of the network’s expanded comedy block, however, remains to be seen.

Similarly, will the audience for “The Flash” stick around for “No Tomorrow,” a romantic comedy that could easily be called “Crazy New Boyfriend”? The seemingly more compatible “iZombie” averaged a 0.5 in the timeslot last season.

The forecast

CBS should keep one of its stronger nights in the plus column, and even if “This Is Us” can’t sustain, “The Voice” and “Chicago Fire” will be fine.

The addition of “The Middle” will help ABC early in the night. “Fresh Off the Boat” is a steady player if not a breakout, but the jury is still out on “The Real O’Neals'” long-term viability. Even if “Agents of SHIELD” manages only a 1.0 in adults 18-49 at 10 p.m. (it averaged a same-day 1.2 last season), that will still be an improvement on the utter mess that spot was last season.

FOX seems resigned to low numbers on the night — its only change is to swap time periods for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “New Girl.” And as noted above, if “No Tomorrow” can match “iZombie’s” numbers coming out of “The Flash,” The CW will probably be fairly happy.

More fall forecasts: Monday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Sunday

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