May 14, 2017

NIELSENWAR: The NBC Fall 2017 Schedule


The Upfronts are officially here, more troubled than ever thanks to the ever-declining ratings at the broadcast networks.  (This Variety article does a good job of laying out the ways in which business considerations are altering what shows are put on the air.)  NBC is in the best position of the broadcasters, thanks to a solid base of Sunday Night Football, The Voice, innumerable Dick Wolf shows, and of course last season’s addition of the red-hot This Is Us.  The network has chosen an intriguing mix of conservatism (only 2 fully-new shows) and risk-taking (lots of timeslot shifts) for its Fall 2017 schedule.  Here’s the grid and some thoughts:

Network Schedule Fall 2017 NBC


MONDAY:  THE VOICE returns, followed by new drama THE BRAVE.  Based on its trailer, it looks to be a fairly generic military procedural, one of a spate of what will undoubtedly be considered Trump-era red state shows that several networks will be launching next season in an attempt to ride the zeitgeist.  It may do a couple of tenths better than Taken scored in that slot this spring, but nothing about it suggests a breakout hit.

TUESDAY:  After the night’s edition of THE VOICE, the network opts to continue its spring strategy of following the hit with sitcoms, in this case the moderately established SUPERSTORE and THE GOOD PLACE.  They’ll benefit from the strong lead-in, and should provide a solid challenge to ABC’s sitcoms in the hour.  (GOOD PLACE will presumably have another short order, the preference of its producers, and the network will probably use that slot to launch new sitcoms in spring 2018.)  CHICAGO FIRE stays put.

WEDNESDAY:  THE BLACKLIST moves to 8PM on a new night, in a slot that’s been problematic for NBC for years.  It might manage a tenth or two more than BLINDSPOT had been delivering to that hour, but won’t do much to bolster SVU and CHICAGO PD, which are comfortable if unexciting veterans.

THURSDAY:  Here’s the network’s big play.  They’re going to start the night with the return of WILL & GRACE, which will lead in to the ratings-troubled (but Tina Fey-produced) GREAT NEWSWILL & GRACE will generate a ton of press, and should score strong ratings to kick off the season, giving GREAT NEWS a hammock to the relocated THIS IS US, which will go toe-to-toe with what is reportedly going to be the final season of SCANDAL on ABC.  This will probably be the most scrutinized hour of the fall, as NBC bets that unlike recent freshman hits such as EMPIRE and THE BLACKLIST, THIS IS US is going to hold its initial fans.  (The drama is also getting the high-profile post-Super Bowl slot in 2018.)  The night ends with more Dick Wolf:  his new anthology LAW & ORDER: TRUE CRIME, which is starting with THE MENENDEZ MURDERS, signing Edie Falco as its big name so far.  That show was ordered to series without a pilot, so its trailer has hardly any real footage.  The wild card of all this is THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, which will once again start the season on CBS, then shift to NBC.  This gives WILL & GRACE a clear runway in September, with no BIG BANG THEORY in its way, but will then preempt NBC’s line-up for 6 consecutive weeks starting in November.  (With more preemptions for the Olympics in January.)  A fascinating night that’s hard to call.

FRIDAY:  NBC is taking a leaf from CBS’s book, programming the night with dramas on the lower end of the ratings spectrum as BLINDSPOT and TAKEN, both shows that probably would have been canceled in previous seasons, are kept alive to precede DATELINE.  Expectations will be mild, the network won’t have the expense of launching new shows on a night without much revenue, and the arrivals will give the older crowd that watch TV on Saturdays some procedural choice.

SUNDAY:  SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL may have declined last season, but it’s still the biggest powerhouse on any network, and even though NBC plays through the nose for each game, the numbers are even more impressive in this twilight of broadcast TV.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."