All times listed are Eastern/Pacific.
ABC: The Middle/Cougar Town
CW: America’s Next Top Model
NBC: New Drama
The 8 p.m. hour is heavy on reality. CBS moved Survivor to Wednesday to fix a hole in its schedule. Although Survivor did better on Thursdays, its Wednesday ratings are an improvement from the past few years. America’s Next Top Model is the CW’s top reality show. It could be moved to 9 p.m. but I think it’ll stay here in hopes it will finally serve as a good lead-in.
Fox moved American Idol to a Wednesday-Thursday schedule in 2011. The much-heralded X-Factor is likely to slide into those slots in the fall while AI will keep them in the winter and spring. The Middle will stay in the lead-off spot for ABC’s comedy block. Cougar Town moves from 9:30 to 8:30. CT might be a bit risque for 8:30 but there’s nothing a few “viewer discretion is advised” notices won’t fix. NBC should place a drama here since there are none in the hour.
ABC: Modern Family/Happy Endings
CBS: Criminal Minds
CW: New Drama
NBC: New Drama
Criminal Minds is a CBS stalwart. It’ll stay in place. Modern Family is ABC’s biggest comedy. It will stay put. Happy Endings has done better than Mr. Sunshine and Better With You. Therefore, HE gets the renewal. It’ll be moved from 10 p.m. to 9:30. I don’t think there will be any comedies in the 10 p.m. hour at the start of the 2011-12 season.
X-Factor will typically be two hours each Wednesday. It might be shortened to 60 or 90 minutes as the competition progresses but putting an additional series on the schedule will be tough. There won’t be enough openings after XF and American Idol get their fill. CW and NBC need to find new dramas that can draw audiences.
CBS: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
NBC: Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
SVU does best at 10. NBC has moved it to 9 each of the past two falls only to restore its time slot in the spring. Better to leave it in its strongest location all year. CMSB hasn’t gotten a lot of traction yet. However, the Criminal Minds spinoff will do better next season with its “big brother” as its lead-in for 22 episodes.
Castle has done well for ABC on Mondays but Wednesday 10 is a brutal spot for the network. After several new shows, including The Whole Truth and Off the Map this year, flopped in recent years, ABC should try an established program in the hour.