Net overcomes difficult Wednesday, Friday slots

HOLLYWOOD — CBS has enjoyed perhaps the best success with its new series this fall, but the net has also strengthened its sked by moving key skeins to new nights.

Wednesday and Friday have long been troubling nights for the Eye, but auds have largely followed comedy “King of Queens” and drama “JAG” to these nights this fall. CBS can now plan for next season knowing it has planted key 9 o’clock flags on both nights.

The WB’s “Reba” and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” have also relocated well, but news hasn’t been as good for a couple of other shows.

Here’s a look at this fall’s slot-shifters, with all comparisons based on adults 18-49 figures from Nielsen through 10 weeks this season:

CBS – Long in the shadow of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “King of Queens” has looked surprisingly strong on Wednesdays, placing second to ABC’s “The Bachelor” in 18-49 most weeks (averaging a 4.2/10). Now, if the net can only pair it with something other than the tired “Becker.”

And Fridays, “JAG,” while merely on par with last season’s “Hack,” should provide the net with growth by season’s end. And again, the net can develop something specific for behind it next year.

NBC – Net’s lone significant slot change saw “SVU” move from its dominant home on Fridays to the tougher Tuesday-at-10 slot, where it is able to generate more ad revenue for the net.

“SVU” is down a bit from last year (5.0/13 vs. 5.3/16) but it has improved upon “Dateline’s” perf in the hour a year ago by 19%. At the same time, it has punished drama rivals “Judging Amy” on CBS and “NYPD Blue” on ABC, which are down vs. last year by 29% and 24% respectively.

NBC has also successfully moved “Third Watch” to Friday, where it has replaced the cancelled “Boomtown” and regularly challenges for the 10 o’clock hour’s lead.

Fox – “Boston Public,” which had already faded last season, is a lost cause in its new slot on Friday, when most of its target aud is out having fun and school is the furthest thing from their mind. Skein, which Fox may want to salvage on another night before tossing in the towel, is averaging a meager 1.8/6.

ABC – Net effectively moved “George Lopez” and “Life with Bonnie” to Fridays and “According to Jim” to the 9 o’clock spot on Tuesday, where its 5.1/13 average in 18-49 tops NBC’s competing “Frasier” (4.5/12). And on Sunday at 7, “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” moved over from Friday, is doing pretty well in an hour that’s especially tough in the fall opposite football.

Net should look to give additional exposure to both “Lopez” and “Videos” (perhaps on Thursdays from 8 to 9), as their less-desirable timeslots this season means that a good-sized chunk of their aud has been unable to check them out.

WB – Friday comedy “Reba” has held its year-ago rating (1.6/6) despite moving from 9 to lesser-watched 8 o’clock. Unfortunately, the net hasn’t been able to take advantage of its improvement early in the evening.

Net’s top-rated drama “Smallville,” shifted to Wednesday at 8 from Tuesday at 9, is down 29% from last year (2.9/8 vs. 4.1/10). Combined with lead-out “Angel,” the Frog is merely flat on Wednesdays vs. a year ago — while Tuesday is ailing without the young Man of Steel.

UPN – Third-year laffer “One on One” deserves a lot of credit for opening a new night of comedy for the net (Tuesday). It’s down 30% from last year (1.4/4 vs. 2.0/5) but has provided a nice lead-in for promising rookie comedy “All of Us” (1.8/5).

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