The broadcast networks announce their 2017-18 schedules in two weeks. Before that, TV by the Numbers looks at one big question each network needs to answer as they plan for next season.
ABC will most likely go into next season with most of its weeknight lineups intact. The “Dancing With the Stars”/”Bachelor” anchor on Mondays, TGIT lineup on Thursdays and “Shark Tank” and “20/20” on Fridays should stay put, and most of the Tuesday and Wednesday comedy blocks will probably return intact as well.
There may not be a ton of holes to fill on the schedule, but there are a few awfully deep ones. “Once Upon a Time” has faded badly on Sundays the past two seasons, and the rest of the night this year was flat-out wreck. Mondays and Tuesdays at 10 may have been even worse, which is saying something in a season that saw very few solid shows in the final hour of primetime.
As weak as “Agents of SHIELD” has been on Tuesdays, though, it’s actually represented a slight upgrade over last season’s hodgepodge of “Wicked City,” “What Would You Do?,” “Of Kings and Prophets” and “Beyond the Tank.” Tuesdays at 10 has been ABC’s worst timeslot in recent years, but “SHIELD” has at least been stable there.
Sunday is in need of a wholesale rebuild, especially if “Once Upon a Time” only has one more season left. But in terms of opportunity wasted, Mondays at 10 has been the biggest disappointment this season and is in need of the most immediate fix.
“Dancing With the Stars” and “The Bachelor” are two of ABC’s four top-rated shows this season among adults 18-49. Collectively they’ve averaged a 1.9 night-of rating on Mondays this season (that figure excludes three Tuesday “DWTS” episodes in the fall).
The Monday episodes of “Conviction” and “Quantico,” meanwhile, have combined for a 0.65 average — barely more than a third of their lead-ins. The time period is down 41 percent year to year.
It’s at least possible to follow the logic behind putting “Conviction” behind “Dancing” in the fall: It was a procedural (like “Castle” before it) led by a woman, which ABC hoped would help keep the female-leading audiences for “DWTS” and “The Bachelor” around. They didn’t — maybe because the show wasn’t any fun. Moving “Quantico” there at midseason was simply a misstep. A heavily serialized show midway through its second season wasn’t likely to pick up a lot of new viewers regardless of its lead-in.
ABC will be screening its pilots in the next couple of weeks, ahead of its upfront presentation to advertisers on May 16. It has several pilots that could potentially fill the 10 p.m. Monday spot, including medical drama “The Good Doctor”; CIA series “Unit Zero,” starring Toni Collette; and “Deception,” which has the “Castle”-ish premise of a disgraced magician helping the FBI solve cases.
Whatever ends up in the 10 p.m. Monday spot, expect ABC to give it a healthy marketing push in the run-up to fall. The network can’t afford another replacement-level season from what should be one of its most valuable time periods.