Tuesdays this fall look like another win for CBS. Last fall, FOX battled CBS to a draw on Tuesdays, partly because New Girl started at a smash-hit pace, then CBS moved ahead in the spring. But with Glee moving off the night to create a Tuesday block of four half-hour comedies, and with heavy new comedy competition for the cooling New Girl at 9PM, FOX will very likely slip to second place with the evening’s largest year-to-year decline. The biggest increase should belong to NBC, by virtue of its adding one hour of The Voice to the night, lifting the network from fourth to third place. ABC, in dire need of a Tuesday overhaul, doesn’t quite have the goods and should move down to fourth place on the night.
As methodical as ever, CBS is not messing with most of its successful Tuesday night. NCIS remains at 8 pm and NCIS: Los Angeles at 9 pm. Last fall, NCIS averaged a 4.0 rating with Adults 18-49 for original episodes between September and December. With The Voice results show moving into the 8 pm hour this fall, we see NCIS going down a touch to a 3.9 rating, still a solid #1 in the time period. NCIS: LA should turn in a 3.4 rating at 9 pm, the same rating it averaged last fall. With no new significant competitors at 9 pm and a solid spring ratings performance, NCIS: LA should have no problem holding last fall’s rating. (Remember, holding steady in the declining world of network television is actually an achievement.) The solid foundation from 8-10 pm will provide a great opportunity for the freshman drama Vegas to thrive. Vegas is CBS’s highest-profile new drama of the season by far, and while its period setting is a bit unusual for the network, it’s still the kind of procedural CBS does best, with an A-level cast headed by Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Jason O’Mara and Carrie-Ann Moss that should attract plenty of viewers. We see Vegas able to average a 2.7 rating at 10 pm, easily #1 in the hour and a very good number for a 10 pm drama today. Across the night, CBS should average a 3.3 rating, up 2% from Tuesdays last fall.
FOX faced a very tough decision on Tuesdays. The once red-hot and buzzed-about Glee very rapidly turned into an pop culture afterthought last season. Moving Glee to Thursday to give it an X Factor lead-in was probably the right thing to do for the declining asset. But that meant Tuesday 8-9 now has to be rebuilt completely. An optimist would see this as a great opportunity to create every network’s dream (a block of four strong half-hour comedies), but a realist would point to FOX’s failed attempt at this when Glee was in repeats this spring. (Raising Hope, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, New Girl, Breaking In, anyone?)
Tuesdays this fall will kick off at 8:00 with Raising Hope, a show FOX executives love for everything but its ratings potential. We are giving it a 2.1 rating average for the fall, which might be generous. (During FOX’s four-comedy experiment in March, Raising Hope at 8:00 pm managed a 2.1 rating only once. Most episodes were a high-1 rating, but fall ratings are generally higher so we will give the show a tiny benefit of the doubt.) At 8:30 we see some modest potential in the new comedy Ben & Kate. Like Raising Hope, it’s a comedy about a dysfunctional family (single mom with her unreliable brother as “manny”) raising a child, however it’s seemingly less idiosyncratic than Hope–which is to say that if it’s good, it could be more mainstream than the returning show, but it also runs the risk of being blander. We’ll hope for the best, and say the new comedy show builds a bit off of Raising Hope to a 2.3 rating. At 9:00 pm New Girl returns for its sophomore season. After averaging a 3.8 in the fourth quarter, New Girl original episodes slumped to a 2.9 rating from January-May (and well below a 3 rating in March with comedies instead of Glee in front of it). New Girl should bounce back from its spring lows in the fall but well below its former fall glory: we are giving it a 3.3 average rating this fall. At 9:30 pm The Mindy Project should do a better job retaining New Girl‘s audience than Raising Hope did. Mindy has been FOX’s hottest comedy prospect seemingly from the day it was put in development, with Office favorite Mindy Kaling as both star and creator (let’s try to forget that the last shows with that combination were Whitney and Best Friends Forever), playing a doctor with a messy romantic life. We are giving Mindy a 2.9 rating. From 8-10 pm, FOX should average a 2.7 rating, good enough for second place but down a steep 18% from last fall.
NBC will make progress at 8 pm with the one-hour results version of The Voice, which should average a 3.3 rating (a standard results-show decline from the 4.0 rating we are estimating for Monday’s performance episode). This is a vast improvement from the final fall cycle of The Biggest Loser, which averaged a 2.1 rating at 8 pm last year. But the good news for NBC stops at 9 pm when two new comedies try to establish themselves. At 9:00 pm we are estimating a 2.3 rating for Go On, only about one tenth of a rating point higher than Biggest Loser did last fall. Go On boasts Matthew Perry in the lead, but in this heavily competitive timeslot, airing against two other comedies with established audiences, the half-hour about a bereavement counseling group may not get much traction, despite NBC’s reported plan to give it an early post-Olympics launch. At 9:30, The New Normal should fall behind Loser’s pace, averaging a 1.9 rating in the half hour. Normal is the comedy from Ryan Murphy (creator of Glee) about a blended family of a gay couple, the surrogate carrying their child, and the woman’s daughter and grandmother, and it also won’t benefit from being in the cross-hairs of heavy (and female-skewing) comedy competition. At 10 pm, Parenthood faces the veteran Private Practice on ABC and the solid new show Vegas on CBS, actually tougher competition than last fall’s Body of Proof on ABC and Unforgettable on CBS. In addition, a softer lead-in from The New Normal should set Parenthood up to fall to a 1.8 rating, down 15% to third place in the hour. For the night, thanks to The Voice, NBC should be up 13% to a third-place 2.4 rating from a fourth-place 2.1 last year.
ABC‘s Tuesday night schedule is very similar in structure to NBC’s: a reality results show at 8, two comedies at 9 and a returning drama at 10. The big difference is that NBC has the hotter and younger-skewing reality franchise to start the night. Dancing with the Stars Results should average a 2.5 rating from 8-9 pm, lagging behind The Voice by a similar margin as it did this spring and falling below the 3.0 rating the show averaged at 9 pm last fall. Two returning comedies follow at 9 pm, but neither is a powerhouse ready to conquer a new night. Happy Endings averaged a 3.0 last fall, but that was following the 5.4 fall average from Modern Family on Wednesday. This fall it is completely on its own, without a comedy lead-in and although it has a loyal audience, that audience probably overlaps with the one that also watches the bigger hit New Girl on FOX. (The DVR same day+3 and same day +7 ratings for the Tuesday 9PM shows should be interesting.) Happy Endings should struggle to average a 2.2 rating, and Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23, another veteran of the post-Modern Family timeslot and a satellite comedy if there ever was one, should follow at 9:30 with a similar 2.1 rating. At 10 pm, Private Practice should average a 2.0 rating, a little better than Body of Proof last fall but a better relative performance since 9 pm was much stronger last year (with Dancing Results). This spring Private Practice finished its season in this time period with some episodes well above a 2 rating and others stubbornly below that level. A similar trend should be evident in the fall. For the entire night, ABC should average a disappointing 2.2 rating, down a relatively modest 7% but falling to fourth place behind a reinvigorated NBC.