Time Slot Wars: Monday
Time Slot Wars:  Monday
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we assessed each night to see which shows the major networks were pitting against each other, and determined which ones would emerge victorious in the ratings war.

It couldn't be more appropriate that the most hard fought time slot war this fall will involve superheroes and time travelers.  Monday night could easily be called the battle of the lead-ins, with all networks banking on easing viewers into like-minded programming, and away from their remotes.

With the hype factor behind Heroes at an almost nauseating pitch, conventional thinking says there won't be much left for the other networks, but that won't stop them from trying.  ABC is hoping reality – as in reality TV – will set in this month to knock a step out of Heroes' hype-driven stride.  FOX is hoping for some of Prison Break's diehards to seed its buddy cop excursion K-Ville.  CBS is betting on a block of sitcoms, including the ultra successful Two and a Half Men, to continue to dominate.

Heroes' vulnerability has been well hidden behind its explosive brand growth, world tours, and intimidating DVD sales.  With NBC/Universal getting behind the unlikely success as its flagship cash cow, it's hard to remember that the series debuted with ho-hum promotion and lightened expectations. The question is: will the increased scope of the Heroes brand with its integrated car ads be enough to beat fate?

Second season growth is far from abnormal, but is not usually the trend, particularly with this type of programming.  Many fans and critics were disappointed with the lackluster wrap up to Heroes' season 1 story, and any level of dissatisfaction usually foreshadows a drop in viewers; just ask Lost.

The fact is, Heroes never did dominate the 9pm Monday slot as well as it did the desirable 18- to 49-year-old viewer demographic.  Two and a Half Men and 24 both came within a slim margin of toppling NBC's unexpected hit.  Heroes, in other words, needs to do much more than maintain the status quo.  K-Ville doesn't have a chance of pulling number one, but it is definitely the Ross Perot factor in that it targets the same lower end of the 18-49 demo that Heroes feeds on and will probably draw enough viewers away to keep Heroes from coming in at number one.

Dancing with the Stars will likely dominate the time slot with its overlapping debut. The show's draw is typically greater than Heroes and this season Dancing will overlap Heroes with an extra half an hour, a move some look at as a guided missile.
Ten o'clock is where the peacock would really like to unfurl its feathers. The network suffered an embarrassing pummeling last year with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  Part of the problem with 10pm for NBC is that they have not held significant ground here for some time, while CBS's CSI: Miami and ABC's The Bachelor are proven wins.

NBC has placed all of its 10pm hopes on the theory of like-minded programming, placing the serialized science fiction drama Journeyman on the tail of a genre friendly Heroes.  The only thing they need to do now is pull a Murphy Brown and drop Heroes' credits and cut commercials between the shows.

To keep things in perspective, 10pm is a time slot where some drop off is anticipated, so Journeyman need not be number one to be successful.  The rule of thumb seems to be anything in the double digits will buy a 10pm show a second season.  Succeeding in the time slot becomes as much a battle of drawing viewers from other programming as keeping the older segment of the demo up another hour.

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- Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of FOX)