Network Upfronts begin Monday morning with NBC. They announced their schedule Sunday, so let’s get this party started.
The one thing that I want to say right upfront (ha ha) is that I assume in writing these pithy analyses that scheduling still matters, or else why do this?
There’s a lot to like about the NBC schedule. In 2017 schedules are as much statements about who you are as a broadcaster as they are a strategy for getting viewers to stay with you through the night. I think NBC succeeds on both levels.
This is a very sales-friendly schedule with a lot of returning series. There are only two and a half hours of “new” product and that includes the “Will & Grace” reboot and another “Law & Order” franchise. “The Brave” is the only really new series on the schedule, and it’s well protected behind “The Voice.”
I have said in the past that if you are going to move an established hit series, the best time to do it is in its sophomore season. That’s what NBC did with “This Is Us.” Paired with “Will & Grace” and “Law & Order,” NBC has put together a Thursday night in the tradition of Must-See TV. With both ABC and CBS seeing their established shows declining on this night, NBC picked a very opportune moment to make this move.
Probably the smartest thing that NBC did was to announce that “This Is Us” will follow the Super Bowl. This is a license to print money, and I have always believed that this is the most effective use of the post-Super Bowl time period.
NBC can plug in its midseason shows without disrupting the underlying structure of the schedule.
If I had one “criticism,” I guess it would be that it does not appear that NBC developed a compatible series to “This Is Us” that could have drafted in behind it.
As a scheduler, my goal was always to look smart but be aggressive, and this schedule accomplishes that. Oh, and there’s “The Voice” and all that football. My compliments to Jeff Bader and Steve Kern on a job well done.
Viewers consume TV in all sorts of ways, but it is still the job of the scheduler to make a statement and NBC looks like they’re serious about staying on top in the 18-49 demographic for quite a while.
Tomorrow: FOX, who has the steepest hill to climb.