Placing bets on nets’ nightly battlegrounds

Fox, NBC will challenge 'Raymond' on Mondays

The fall’s 36 new offerings, combined with more sked shuffling of returning series than we’ve seen in years, has created some intriguing matchups.

Here’s a look at some:

Monday at 9

“Everybody Loves Raymond” (CBS) and “Monday Night Football” (ABC) will again lead the hour, but Fox (“Skin”) and NBC (“Las Vegas”) offer new dramas that could shake things up.

Both will lead out of reality skeins, so they figure to have nice 18-34 momentum. “Las Vegas,” following “Fear Factor, should win over the long term, as it will play broader (18-54, both male and female).

“Skin” will get a big boost through November by airing behind “Joe Millionaire.” While this will give the show some additional heat — it figures to be one of the most talked about new shows of the fall anyway — look for it to be a more narrow 18-34 performer.

CBS offers up a new laffer at 9:30 (“Two And a Half Men”) that should fit into the net’s lineup of domestic comedies. The popularity of “Skin” and “Vegas” will affect how much of the “Raymond” audience “Men” retains.

Bottom line: “Skin” may be too thin here, but “Las Vegas” isn’t a safe bet either.

Tuesday at 10

No new shows in this battle, but it’s an intriguing drama matchup that pits NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (formerly on Fridays) opposite the returning “NYPD Blue” on ABC and “Judging Amy” on CBS.

“SVU’s” move here makes sense: Both “Blue” and “Amy” are past their peaks, and NBC sees this hour as a chance to plant its flag with a proven franchise that figures to have many years ahead of it.

There appears to be more crossover aud between the two crime shows, so this could help “Amy,” but “SVU” traditionally skews very female, so don’t count out “NYPD Blue” as the choice for men.

Bottom line: “SVU” is potent, but auds have been true to “Blue” here for years.

Thursday at 8

“Friends” and “Survivor” will be back but aren’t as invincible as they once were, so the other nets smartly amped up their firepower in this hour.

ABC drama “Threat Matrix” seems heavy for 8 o’clock but the net had few other drama slots and will almost certainly improve on the weak numbers it scored in the hour a year ago.

Fox’s “Tru Calling” could be the drama of choice among the 12-34s, while the WB’s “Steve Harvey Big Time” should be a solid laffer alternative for young and urban auds.

Bottom line: ABC, Fox and the WB could all improve.

Friday at 8

This surprisingly competitive hour is a mix of new dramas (CBS’ “Joan of Arcadia” and NBC’s “Miss Match”) and laffers in new slots (ABC’s “George Lopez,” Fox’s “Wanda at Large” and the WB’s “Reba”).

NBC has recent history on its side with “Providence” in the hour and will use its strong base of women 18-34 on Thursday to point to “Match.”

What’s missing here is any testosterone. CBS may have been better off going with “JAG” in this hour and shifting “Joan” to another night.

As for the comedies, “Reba’s” audience should follow it to 8, leaving “Wanda” and “George” to fight for the urban audience that supported both on Wednesday.

Bottom line: “Miss Match” will prevail and one of the comedies could get bumped.

Sunday at 8

Although “60 Minutes” isn’t the lead-in it used to be, CBS could do well with “Cold Case,” especially among women 40-plus (remember “Murder, She Wrote” in this hour?).

Still, it will be tough sledding opposite another cop show, ABC’s new “10-8,” as well as NBC’s “American Dreams,” which finished second to Fox’s comedies in the hour last season. And then there’s the WB’s “Charmed,” which grabs young femmes.

ABC’s “10-8” would figure to be the drama with the most male appeal, but it’s also light enough that it should appeal to family auds coming out of “Home Videos.”

Bottom line: The prospects look solid for the newbies.

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