No month has been harder on scripted premieres in recent years than April, but the nets are giving it another shot.
April has proven prickly for preems for a variety of reasons, including the start of Daylight Saving Time, which contributes to lower viewership levels across the dial. Then there are distractions like spring break and college basketball’s March Madness that disrupt viewing patterns.
It also doesn’t help that since February and May are sweeps months, the March and April skeds are riddled with repeats, making it tougher to generate awareness for April bows.
Of the 20 dramas and comedies to bow in April on the Big Four nets since 2006, none emerged a bona fide hit, though a handful (ABC’s “Happy Endings,” NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and TNT’s “Southland,” which originally aired on NBC) are doing OK and still on the air.
ABC, in particular, is being aggressive in April — and it appears to have the best shot at breaking the month’s curse.
For the last six weeks of the season, the net will funnel original episodes of its top comedy (“Modern Family”) and drama (“Grey’s Anatomy”) into newbies “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23” and “Scandal,” respectively.
ABC is hoping to see better production in these key timeslots. “Happy Endings,” which has been airing after “Modern Family,” retains less than 60% of the hit’s audience, while “Private Practice” is holding a stronger 70% of “Grey’s,” but the net can do better.
NBC and CBS don’t appear to have much confidence in their April launches.
The Peacock is skedding comedy “Best Friends Forever” after a Betty White hidden-camera show in a Wednesday time-slot that has been one of the net’s weakest in recent years.
And the Eye, which has had a great success rate launching shows in just about every other calendar month, has saved the month of April as an unloading zone.
Its latest effort, cop drama “NYC 22,” joins a list of April preems that includes recent misfires “Harper’s Island,” “Miami Medical” and “Chaos.” “NYC 22” will air behind the net’s modestly rated Sunday drama “The Good Wife.”
The surest sign that CBS isn’t confident? The net has given the show only four weeks on the sked before season’s end.