ABC, CBS and Fox possess television’s top-rated programs, but each may be pondering a breakup of its hit pairings to spread the wealth around to other nights.
One week before the upfronts, here’s a look at what the nets may be considering as they set their fall skeds:
Fox — The top-rated net in 18-49 will again plan a fall sked without “Idol” and “24” and a second-half sked with them — and that may mean some shows shifting slots midseason.
One bold move would be shifting “House” to Thursday at 8, where there is no Big Four drama. Or Fox could lead off Wednesday with “House” and then put the “Idol” results show on Thursday, thus distributing its assets across the week.
Look for the net to stake out an hour for comedy on either Tuesday or Wednesday, with “The War at Home” and “Til Death” not a bad pairing. And the serialized “Vanished” would seem a logical pair with “Prison Break” on Monday.
There’s also a big opening Fridays for young women that Fox may be able to tap into with a new drama.
ABC — The Sunday lineup is powerful, but the net must bust it up to help other nights. This may mean a shift of “Grey’s Anatomy” to Monday at 9, so both it and “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday can lead into new dramas. “Secrets of a Small Town” would seem ideal behind “Housewives.”
Alphabet is weak in comedy, but “George Lopez” and “Freddie” might be paired with two new laffers on Tuesday. There’s also an opportunity for comedy geared at women 25-54 to follow the “Dancing With the Stars” results show on Friday, assuming it stays there.
The modest “Invasion” could return behind “Lost” on Wednesday, as the net has many other hours to address.
CBS — Biggest concern for the otherwise solid Eye is its Monday laffer block, especially if unsung “King of Queens” isn’t back. “Out of Practice” deserves another shot, while top prospect “The Class” seems a good fit with “How I Met Your Mother.”
The time is right for “Without a Trace” to vacate the comfy post-“CSI” slot on Thursday, allowing for James Woods drama “Shark” or another new hour with male appeal. This would free up “Trace,” which could move to Sunday at 10, joining “Cold Case” (maybe moved up to 9?) and a new drama.
NBC — There are no easy answers here, and the net doesn’t have the megahits to help support new shows.
We may see “Law & Order” shift to 9 to launch a show at 10, and “ER” may have to sit on the sidelines in fall if the net wants to try a hot newbie in its Thursday slot. Another shift worth considering is “Medium” to Wednesday at 8, which would help flow on the night.
There might be an opening Tuesday for a lighter drama like “Friday Night Lights” or “Heroes” — or both.
On the comedy front, NBC should focus on Thursday, with “My Name Is Earl” followed by “Scrubs,” “The Office” and a newbie, perhaps the new Tina Fey workplace skein.
The CW — Net should focus on launching with shows that have loyal followings but then also be aggressive at midseason to infuse new blood.
The WB’s Thursday (“Smallville”/”Supernatural”) and UPN’s Friday (“WWE Smackdown”) should return intact, and “Gilmore Girls” and “America’s Next Top Model” will likely stay in their slots.
Something like “Split Decision” or “Runaway” would be a good choice to lead into “Everwood” on Monday.
Sunday should be reserved for femme-centric comedies, opposite football and Fox’s male laffers. “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Girlfriends,” “Reba” and new Nick Lachey skein “She Said/He Said” figure to be part of the mix.