×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Battle for broadcast bronze

NBC looking good, but ABC could catch it

NBC had a strong start thanks to football and “The Voice,” and Fox is always capable of getting on a second-half roll with “American Idol,” but it’s a pretty safe bet that steady CBS will capture its first seasonal title in TV’s prized demo.

So while there may not be much drama as to the year’s overall winner, that still leaves what could be a down-to-the-wire race between NBC and ABC to avoid the Big Four basement.

Each net still has some midseason shows that could help swing the balance in its favor. And there’s something of a rivalry in that these two have been here before: ABC and NBC tied for third in adults 18-49 in each of the past two seasons, with the Alphabet winning, if you extrapolate to hundredths, in 2011, and the Peacock edging ahead last year.

In handicapping the race, NBC has the clear inside track, having built a sizable advantage through the first half of the season. The combination of “Sunday Night Football,” “The Voice” and hot new drama “Revolution” gave it a small advantage over even CBS for the first three months of the season.

But with football over and both “The Voice” and “Revolution” resting until late March, NBC is in the midst of a predictably tough patch.

According to Nielsen, the Peacock led by nearly six-tenths of a ratings point over the Alphabet through Jan. 27 (2.85 to 2.26), and that’s with ABC finishing ahead of NBC for the latter half of January. But ABC, with a few more victories over its rival, coupled with its telecast of the Academy Awards on Feb. 24, could shave that advantage to about three-tenths, setting up some interesting weeks down the stretch.

For NBC, it would help if “Smash” (returning Feb. 5) can perform well without the “Voice” lead-in it had last season, or if new Thursday drama “Do No Harm” can do some damage. New reality dating show “Ready for Love” could be a key, since it will air for two hours on Sundays; and “The Voice” might need to continue to dominate ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” like it did in the fall.

ABC has to hope that either of its dramas preeming over the next few weeks — “Zero Hour” on Thursday or “Red Widow” on Sunday — can provide a spark in some black-hole timeslots for the net. Also in question is whether “Scandal” can continue to click on Thursday, and if either reality show “Celebrity Diving” or “Bet on Your Baby” is capable of making some late-season noise.

There’s already been some gamesmanship between the rivals, with ABC skedding a special two-hour edition of “The Bachelor” (usually a Monday show) on Tuesday, Feb. 5 opposite NBC’s two-hour season premiere of “Smash,” which targets a similar upscale, female audience.

It’s safe to say it won’t be the last strategic move in the struggle to sidestep the cellar.

More TV

  • American Son review

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'American Son' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix released the trailer for “American Son” starring Kerry Washington and first looks at Dolly Parton’s new anthology series, “Heartstrings.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for “American Son,” which premieres Nov. 1 on the streaming service. Directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon, the film is based on the [...]

  • BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to

    BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to Be Produced by Management Firm's New Shingle, ModestTV

    The BBC has confirmed its Little Mix talent show, which the pop band’s management firm, Modest!, will produce through a new banner, ModestTV. “Little Mix The Search” will be exec produced by Andrea Hamilton, who has partnered with the management outfit to launch the new operation. Her entertainment show credits include “The Voice” and “Strictly [...]

  • Monica Beletsky Apple TV Plus

    Apple Sets Overall Deal With Monica Beletsky

    Monica Beletsky is the latest of a small group of content creators to set an overall deal with Apple and their streaming platform, Apple TV Plus. Under the multi-year deal, Beletsky will develop and produce television series exclusively for the streamer. This is the first overall of Beletsky’s career. Her previous credits include “Fargo,” “Friday [...]

  • Saladin Patterson

    Saladin Patterson Inks Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox Television

    Saladin Patterson has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the multi-year deal, Patterson will develop, write and produce comedy series for network, cable and streaming platforms. He was previously under a development deal at the studio earlier in his career. Patterson is currently an executive producer on the upcoming FX series [...]

  • Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer

    'Room' Director Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer Ed Guiney Present Their BBC-Hulu Series 'Normal People' (EXCLUSIVE)

    At TV market Mipcom in Cannes this week the team behind BBC-Hulu series “Normal People” – led by Lenny Abrahamson, the Oscar nominated director of “Room” – presented the first footage from the show, and explained how they approached the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel. Variety had exclusive access to the presentation. Ed Guiney, one [...]

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ Scores 6.5 Million Viewers Across First Weekend

    “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which dropped on Netflix Oct. 11, drew around 6.5 million total viewers in its first three days on the streaming platform, according to Nielsen. The movie also reached just under 8.2 million unique TV viewers. “El Camino” unsurprisingly drew its biggest audience of the three days on day 1, [...]

  • Natalie Morales, Photo by Catie Laffoon

    'Dead to Me' Season 2 Casts Natalie Morales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Natalie Morales has been cast in “Dead to Me” Season 2 at Netflix, Variety has learned exclusively. Morales will appear in the recurring role of Michelle. Described as wry and down to earth, Michelle has a relaxed charm and infectious wit. She forms a connection with Judy (Linda Cardellini) at the Assisted Living Facility, where Michelle’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content