With the 2017-18 TV season fast approaching, TV by the Numbers is breaking down each night of the broadcast networks’ schedule. We’ll look for competitive time periods and new shows with a chance to break out — or fall on their faces.

Thursday will be ruled by the NFL, first on CBS and then, after a one-week interlude in November, on NBC. Those two networks will attempt to launch fall lineups around their “Thursday Night Football” slates. There’s also a lot of familiar stuff on the schedule — even in the shows that are ostensibly new.

The schedule

All times ET/PT. New shows in italics.

8 p.m. 8:30 p.m. 9 p.m. 9:30 p.m. 10 p.m. 10:30 p.m.
ABC Grey’s Anatomy Scandal How to Get Away with Murder
CBS (Sept.-Oct.) Thursday Night Football
CBS (starting Nov. 2) The Big Bang Theory Young Sheldon Mom Life in Pieces SWAT
The CW Supernatural Arrow (new night)
FOX Gotham (new night) The Orville
NBC (through Nov. 2) Superstore The Good Place Will & Grace Great News (new night) Chicago Fire (new night)
NBC (starting Nov. 9) Thursday Night Football


The heavyweights

As mentioned above, the NFL will rule the night. The two iterations of “TNF” finished second and third in the same-day adults 18-49 ratings last season.

“The Big Bang Theory” was the top-rated scripted show on network TV last season, and “Grey’s Anatomy” was in the top 5 among scripted series.

The newcomers

Thursday features one new show that’s a spinoff of an old show (CBS’ “Young Sheldon,” a “Big Bang Theory” prequel), one new show that’s a remake of an old show (“SWAT,” also on CBS), one new show that’s an homage to an old show (“The Orville” on FOX, Seth MacFarlane’s tribute to “Star Trek”), and one new revival of an old show (“Will & Grace” on NBC).

Additionally, veterans “Gotham,” “Arrow” and “Chicago Fire” move to the night, along with NBC’s second-year comedy “Great News.”

The battle

“Will & Grace” will probably get a good-sized premiere audience. After that, however, it’s a wild card, which makes the 9 p.m. timeslot the most interesting one to track. It’s facing off against the final season of “Scandal” and (eventually) CBS’ reliably rated “Mom.” In an undercard bout, “The Orville” may snag some of the younger men who watch “Arrow.”

The forecast

“Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Big Bang Theory” will do what they do; both CBS’ and ABC’s regular lineups should be fine, as they have been the past few seasons. The presence of “Scandal” in the fall should ensure year-to-year gains for ABC, since it was off in the first part of last season.

CBS has had some struggles with retaining the “Big Bang” audience for its lead-out show; “Young Sheldon” ought to help there. “SWAT” might find tough going at 10, however, against a pair of established shows.

“Will & Grace” should provide a bump for NBC, at least in the 18-49 demographic, over last year’s 9 p.m. occupant, “Chicago Med.” But with a pair of niche shows (“Superstore” and “The Good Place”) leading into it, “W&G’s” ceiling may not be terribly high. The sturdy “Chicago Fire” will likely give 10 p.m. a bit of a boost compared to “The Blacklist” last year.

FOX is hoping MacFarlane’s fans will stay with the less-wacky-than-you’d-think “The Orville,” which will get a pair of post-NFL Sunday outings before settling into its regular home. Tonally it doesn’t seem like a great fit with “Gotham,” but after a weak effort on Thursdays last year, the network better hope for at least a small upgrade. “Supernatural” and “Arrow” will probably remain in the upper half of The CW’s roster, but “Arrow” especially took a hit last season.

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

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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