Network Upfronts Preview: NBC

240px-NBC_2014_Indent_StyleThe upfront presentation preview from Tonight on TV has officially begun!  Each day this week, from Sunday until Thursday, I will predict what each network will do with its fall schedule next season.  The feature will be posted one week ahead of the official network upfront presentation for each individual network (NBC – Sunday, FOX – Monday, ABC – Tuesday, CBS – Wednesday, CW – Thursday). For each network, a schedule will be given, along with my analysis.

Last year I predicted at least four major moves: Hawaii Five-0 moving to Fridays, Beauty and the Beast moving to Mondays, Sleepy Hollow on Mondays, and Super Fun Night in the post-Modern Family timeslot.  There were a few other minor moves I correctly predicted, and of course, a few I was no where close to the actual schedule.

But that was all last season.  Let us move forward with the new season, beginning with NBC!

NBC had a banner season this year, scoring a first place finish in the adults 18-49 demographic for the first time in close to a decade.  This the same network that finished in fourth for eight seasons in a row.  NBC’s success this season had a lot to do with Sunday Night FootballThe Voice, a few weeks of The Olympics, as well as breakout freshman The Blacklist.  Despite those gains, NBC does have some major holes on their schedule that have to be fixed, namely Thursdays and Sundays post-SNF.

8 – The Voice
10 – Mysteries of Laura (new drama)
Analysis: The number one series on NBC isn’t going anywhere, but a new lead-out seems likely.  NBC President Bob Greenblatt publicly stated The Blacklist will likely vacate the timeslot, meaning something has to take over.  I think the most likely option is new drama Mysteries of Laura, starring Debra Messing.  It has new momentum, according to a number of sources, and with its procedural/serial format, it will fit the mold of successful The Blacklist.

8 – The Voice
9 – Marry Me (new comedy)
930 – A to Z (new comedy)
10 – Chicago Fire
Analysis: Similar to Monday, I do not see The Voice moving from its Tuesday timeslot next season.  New 9 o’clock occupants should be expected though, given About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher haven’t done all that great.  I do think NBC will stick with comedies in the hour.  I’d go with the two comedies that are receiving the most praise in pilot screenings: Marry Me and A to Z.  Rounding out the night is current timeslot occupant, Chicago Fire.  NBC could move the firefighting drama to a new night, but with stability here, I do not see it happening.

8 – Parenthood / Revolution
9 – Law and Order: SVU
10 – Chicago PD
Analysis: This is a night I went back and forth on deciding what NBC may do.  Would The Blacklist move here or Thursdays?  In the end, I ultimately decided against placing it on Wednesdays.  Instead, leave the Law and Order: SVU and Chicago PD duo in tact and focus on the 8pm hour.  I’m not entirely sure what NBC may place there though.  New or returning comedies?  Maybe a drama?  In the end I think the final (shortened) season of Parenthood or even a third season of Revolution will get the timeslot.  NBC can focus on the hour next season, or even at midseason (especially if Parenthood gets the timeslot).

8 – The Biggest Loser (new night)
9 – The Blacklist (new night and time)
10 – Odyssey (new drama)
Analysis: NBC needs a big makeover and I think they can do it this season.  I would; however, wait until Thursday Night Football completes its run on CBS.  On Thursdays I would place The Biggest Loser at 8pm.  It has done a solid job in a number of timeslots, and with no other reality series in the hour, it could take advantage.  Now here is where The Blacklist comes into play.  9pm is fairly weak across most of the networks right now, with Grey’s Anatomy the top show.  It is entirely possible for The Blacklist to bring its audience over and do over a 2.0 on the night.  In addition to moving The Blacklist, NBC would be wise to use it as a lead in.  Odyssey is gaining momentum and with a serialized format, it could make The Blacklist and Odyssey a formidable one-two punch.  The only thing that may stop NBC from going with a new drama in the hour is water-cooler Scandal on ABC.

8 – Community (new night)
830 – Parks and Recreation (new night)
9 – Grimm
10 – Dracula / Hannibal
Analysis: I toyed with the 8 o’clock hour for a bit here too.  Is NBC going to renew Community?  They shouldn’t, but I would not be surprised to see it return yet again.  NBC needs something to air with already-renewed Parks and Recreation and using a new comedy would not be much help.  If NBC does not place a comedy block here, look for Dateline to return.  Keep Grimm in its timeslot and go with a second season of Dracula or third season of Hannibal at 10.  Neither is a breakout hit, but reportedly lower costs will likely help one return (my money is on Hannibal).

7 – Football Night in America
830 – Sunday Night Football
Analysis: Nothing new to see here.

NBC has a number of other series that will likely be picked up for mid-season, including comedy Ellen More or Less and dramas Allegiance and State of Affairs.  In addition, NBC has also given series orders to a few series: the untitled Ellie Kemper comedy, and Mr. Robinson.

Coming tomorrow: FOX


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