As the new TV season approaches, it is understandable that most of the discussion centers around the new shows. How will ABC's Detroit 1-8-7 and No Ordinary Family perform compared to CBS's Hawaii Five-O and The Defenders, or NBC's The Event and Undercovers, or FOX's Lonestar?
More significant to each network's ultimate success, however, is how well its returning series perform. Why? Two basic reasons. First, there are simply more returning shows than new shows (69 vs. 27 this fall). Second, when a new show flops, it's usually not on for more than half a season, and it's often replaced by a show that does better. When a returning show starts to decline, it usually slides for a while before it's finally canceled, and more often than not, it's replaced by a show that doesn't do as well.
Much more important to FOX than its three new fall series, for example, is how well American Idoldoes without SImon at the judges table. This could impact whether the network finishes 1st among adults 18-49 regardless of how its new series rate.
CBS will benefit by new dramas, Hawaii Five-O, The Defenders, or Blue Bloods, becoming successes. But even more important to the network's fortunes will be how the moves of Survivorfrom Thursday to Wednesday, Big Bang Theory from Monday to Thursday, CSI: Miami from Monday to Sunday, and CSI: NY from Wednesday to Friday work out. Equally as important will be whether NCIS, The Good Wife, and The Mentalist hold their current audience levels.
ABC can certainly use a new hit with something like Detroit 1-8-7, No Ordinary Family, or My Generation, but at least as important will be whether or not Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Desperate Housewives continue to decline, or whether the new lineup of Dancing With the Stars (looks good) draws as big an audience as last season.