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New and Noteworthy

Creating a Television Schedule — The Science Behind How Viewers Watch TV

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In the age of DVRs and On Demand, it may seem that it doesn’t really matter what night a television show is actually on, but to network executives and advertisers it does. Creating a successful TV schedule is somewhat a science, involving a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

In the article, “How Does a Network Build a Fall Schedule? Fox’s Scheduling Chief Reveals the Strategies,” talked with Fox’s Head of Scheduling, Preston Beckman, to get a behind-the-scenes look at how television programs are scheduled. In the article, Beckman listed the three major factors that determine final scheduling decisions. These include current season lineup, research, and the gut feelings of executives making the decision.

In the article, Beckman says executives don’t take all successful pilots and automatically add them to the lineup — they look for the shows that can best fill their scheduling needs. He says all pilots are screened by focus groups, to gauge the potential popularity with viewers if the show is picked up and added to the lineup. He says when someone feels strongly that a show will succeed, even when all evidence points the opposite way, this also usually helps the show to receive extra consideration.

The Best & Worst Nights to Watch TV

Currently, networks view Sunday and Thursday evening as the hottest spots on TV, hosting their most popular shows, including hits like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mad Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Survivor, Girls,” and of course “Sunday Night Football.”

Once the best night on television, Adweek now deems Friday night a “deadzone,” for shows. For the most part, networks seem to have lost interest in airing their most popular shows on both Friday and Saturday evenings, which is a major shift from the late 80s and 90s when programming like ABC’s TGIF dominated viewers’ Friday evening schedules. ranked “The Best TV Shows to SURVIVE the Friday Night Death Slot,” which include 30 hit shows that people actually watched on Friday nights. The site ranked the top ten as:

  1. “The X-Files”
  2. “Dallas”
  3. “The Dukes of Hazzard”
  4. “Friday Night Lights”
  5. “The Incredible Hulk”
  6. “WWE Friday Night Smackdown”
  7. “Stargate: SG-1”
  8. “Boy Meets World”
  9. “Las Vegas”
  10. “The Six Million-Dollar Man”

New Winter Television Schedule Lineup

Fall isn’t the only season to debut a new television schedule. Networks are making sure there are plenty of reasons to stay indoors and watch TV during the coldest season of the year. Many new and old favorites are making a winter debut next year, including:

  • “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), Sunday, January 6 at 9pm
  • “The Bachelor” (ABC), Monday, January 7 at 8pm
  • “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” (NBC), Tuesday, January 8 at 8pm
  • “Pretty Little Liars” (ABC Family), Tuesday, January 8 at 8pm
  • “1600 Penn” (NBC), Thursday, January 10 at 9:30pm
  • “Shameless” (Showtime) Sunday, January 13 at 9pm
  • “House of Lies” (Showtime) Sunday, January 13 at 10pm
  • “Californication” (Showtime) Sunday, January 13 at 10:30pm
  • “Smash” (NBC), Tuesday, February 5 at 9pm
  • “Community” (NBC), Thursday, February 7 at 8pm

Author: Laura Jerpi

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