Fall TV 2016: Sunday night forecast for ‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Son of Zorn,’ ‘NCIS: LA’ and more


The 2016-17 TV season starts in less than a month. 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.

Sunday will once again be dominated by the NFL, and there’s only one new series on the schedule — along with one returnee that’s been off for more than a year. Will that be enough to shake up the ratings? Here’s how the night breaks down.

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

Network 7 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8 p.m. 8:30 p.m. 9 p.m. 9:30 p.m. 10 p.m. 10:30 p.m.
ABC America’s Funniest Home Videos (Oct. 2) Once Upon a Time (Sept. 25) Secrets and Lies (Sept. 25) Quantico (Sept. 25)
CBS 60 Minutes (Sept. 25) NCIS: Los Angeles (Oct. 2) Madam Secretary (Oct. 2) Elementary (Oct. 2)
FOX NFL overruns/The OT Bob’s Burgers (Sept. 25) The Simpsons (Sept. 25) Son of Zorn (Sept. 25) Family Guy (Sept. 25) The Last Man on Earth (Sept. 25)
NBC Football Night in America (Sept. 11) Sunday Night Football (Sept. 11)


The incumbent

“Sunday Night Football” was the No. 1 show on broadcast TV last season by a wide margin. It’s all but certain to be again.

The newbie

The only first-year series on Sunday’s in the fall is FOX’s “Son of Zorn.” It uses a mix of animation and live action to tell the story of a He Man-like character who tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and their son.

The battle

Not a whole lot has changed on Sunday nights, and the few moves networks have made likely won’t change the shape of the night that much. It will be interesting to see, however, how “NCIS: Los Angeles” performs in its new Sunday home and whether it can do better than “Madam Secretary” did at 8 p.m. last season. Both “Once Upon a Time” and “The Simpsons” had better season-long averages in 2015-16, but it could be a tight race for second behind the NFL.

The wildcard

“Secrets and Lies” performed reasonably well in its first season, averaging a 1.5 same-day rating in adults 18-49. But that was in 2014-15 — ABC left Season 2 off the schedule for all of last season, and it will have been off the air for more than 16 months by the time it premieres (with a mostly new cast to boot; Juliette Lewis is the only prominent holdover from Season 1).

Sundays at 9 were a problem area last season for ABC, with neither “Blood & Oil” nor “The Family” managing to average even a 1.0 in the demo. If “Secrets and Lies” can get over that line, ABC should be happy.

The forecast

Nothing in the mostly veteran crop of shows on Sunday is going to displace, or even seriously challenge, “Sunday Night Football’s” dominance of the night. “The Simpsons” and “Son of Zorn” will benefit from some NFL lead-ins some weeks; “NCIS: LA” might too, although that audience sometimes dissipates by the time “60 Minutes” ends.

“Once Upon a Time” had a decent fall run last year (1.6 average) but tailed off a good amount in the back half of the season, averaging 1.2 in the spring. Chances are it will bounce back some in the fall, which would be good news for “Secrets and Lies.” Whether “Quantico” can rebound after its second-half fade is a very open question.

Later in the night, “Family Guy” and “The Last Man on Earth” will probably keep doing their thing for FOX. “Madam Secretary” should fill “The Good Wife’s” spot with consistent numbers on CBS, while “Elementary” may continue to struggle to keep its head above the 1.0 mark.

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

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