The broadcast nets have pumped some much-needed new blood into the final hour of primetime this season, with rookie dramas like “Revolution,” “Elementary” and “Nashville” all playing well at 10 o’clock.
And then there’s Tuesdays.
For whatever reason, Tuesday at 10 remains a black hole for the major nets that program it. None of the season’s top-rated 10 p.m. shows airs on Tuesday, and nobody’s even attacking the hour very aggressively.
You can bet, though, that it will be a much-discussed hour on programming boards this spring when net execs huddle to prep the fall schedule.
Not exactly Murderers’ Row.
On Mondays, by comparison, the combined fall same-night average for NBC newbie “Revolution” and vets “Castle” (ABC) and “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS) was a big 7.0/18 — and they all had to contend with ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
Wednesday, meanwhile, has three viable dramas in vet “CSI” on CBS and rookies “Nashville” (ABC) and “Chicago Fire” (NBC), recently averaging a combined 5.7/16 in February. And on Thursdays, while NBC is still not a factor (“Hannibal” premieres there on April 4), CBS’ “Elementary” and ABC’s hot soph “Scandal” are doing very well: In February, they and NBC’s combo of “Do No Harm” and “Law & Order: SVU” combined for a 5.9/17 in 18-49.
The reason Tuesday has become so lackluster is a mystery. A check of DVR playback reveals that viewers are watching recorded programs at the same rate on the night from 10-11 p.m. as they do on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday — so they’re not particularly picking this time to catch up on shows from previous days.
And no cable series is a big hit there now either, unlike other nights. “Sons of Anarchy” regularly topped a 2 demo rating in the fall, but it is such a singular show (and one with a decidely male skew) that it’s hard to imagine much of a crossover audience with the broadcasters. Last week, the top scripted cable shows at 10 were FX’s “Justified” (0.9) and TBS’ comedy hour (0.8).
Maybe the trouble with Tuesday can be traced to the longtime dominance on the night of Fox’s “American Idol,” which ran from 8-10 p.m. and might have scared off the other nets from putting their best stuff in those hours; and as a result, 10 p.m. didn’t have much of a push leading into it.
Also, CBS, the top drama network across the week, has never seemed to make the slot a priority. “Judging Amy” did reasonably well a decade ago, but since then, nine dramas — “Close to Home,” “Love Monkey,” “Smith,” “3 Lbs.,” “Cane,” The Good Wife,” “Unforgettable,” and this season’s “Vegas” and “Golden Boy” — have toiled Tuesdays at 10 without much luck.
“Golden Boy” isn’t doing great now for the net, but given the competition, at least it has a shot to establish an audience.
ABC did OK briefly with “Boston Legal” last decade, but has bombed of late with “Cupid,” “The Forgotten” and “Detroit 1-8-7.” “Body of Proof” isn’t doing much, but the net could be doing worse.
NBC has the strongest recent history on the night, with only two shows (“Dateline” and “Law & Order: SVU”) running for a 17-year stretch that ended a few years ago. And though “Parenthood” performed decently enough last fall, “Smash” returned for its second season with shockingly low numbers.
The net announced last week that “Smash” will be shipped off to Saturdays starting next month.
So there is a fate worse than Tuesday.