For Big Drama Launches, Monday Is the New SundayGlut of quality shows has programmers shifting a night later 1/21/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Sundays have long been known as the night
for appointment viewing. But last winter, the accumulating
number of quality shows—CBS' TheGood Wife, AMC’s Mad Men and The Walking Dead, HBO’s
Girls and Game of Thrones, Showtime’s trio of comedies
and PBS’ Downton Abbey—overloaded many a DVR.
The Sunday glut has programmers starting to rethink
the traditional night of high-quality drama for their
big launches, setting their sights on Mondays—close
enough to promote new series on hit Sunday shows,
but removed from direct competition with them.
A&E, whose scripted dramas The Glades and Longmire
have previously aired on Sundays in the summer, chose
Monday nights for its upcoming Psycho-prequel thriller
Bates Motel, from former Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse
and starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.
“Over time, we have seen Sunday night become more
crowded, more competitive,” said Bob DeBitetto, president
and general manager of A&E Network and Bio. “I
asked the team to do a pretty deep dive, survey what
the nights of the week looked like, what was coming
back on what network, what was new on what network.
And I think we felt pretty strongly this spring
through the summer, Monday nights actually looked
more attractive from a competitive standpoint.”
DeBitetto noted that Monday night is equally attractive
as Sunday from an advertising perspective; it’s a
good night to sell a broad array of categories, including
entertainment companies targeting Tuesday DVD
releases. He added he “absolutely will look at” nights
other than Sunday when A&E returns The Glades and
Longmire to the schedule later this year.
Sundance Channel also chose Mondays for its first
original scripted series, Rectify, about a wrongfully convicted
man released from death row after 19 years, from
the producers of Breaking Bad; Rectify premieres April 22.
“There’s a crazy crush on Sunday nights,” said Sarah
Barnett, executive VP and general manager of Sundance
Channel. “We are a small network, we’re moving into
the scripted arena with, we think, some shows that will
really cut through, but we can’t compete from the marketing
stance with a large network. So for us, Monday
seems a night of opportunity.”
Launching on Monday also allows Sundance to promote
Rectify on its sister networks on Sunday, including
AMC (where Sundance sees a real overlap of audience)
as well as paid media on other networks.
Precedence also plays a part. In scheduling Defiance,
Syfy’s five-years-in-the-making transmedia series, Mondays
worked because it was the night where its other
scripted fare, such as Alphas and Being Human, has aired.
When TNT decided to expand its original programming
footprint in the colder months with the second
season of Dallas and new David E. Kelley medical drama
Monday Mornings, it chose to build out Mondays first because
it was the home of its legacy series like The Closer.
Broadcasters in the Game
Even broadcasters are getting into the Monday-night
launch game. NBC’s Revolution was a hit on the night
last fall; when the series returns to the schedule on
March 25, it will compete against new cable dramas in
the Monday 10 p.m. hour.
Fox’s dark serial killer drama The Following, starring
Kevin Bacon, premieres Monday, Jan. 21 at 9 p.m.
in the one gaping hole on Fox’s primetime schedule.
(There was no talk of scheduling the thriller after the
family-friendly American Idol, despite that show’s larger
But Fox chairman of entertainment Kevin Reilly
noted Monday was previously the appointed night for
action dramas 24 and Prison Break.
“We have always had success and a history of kind
of this propulsive sort of macho Monday in a way,”
Reilly said at the Television Critics Association press
tour earlier this month. “It felt like a good fit.”
Even CBS, home of the procedural, will take a big
shot this summer with the serialized 13-episode drama
Under the Dome, based on the best-seller Stephen King
novel and produced by Steven Spielberg.
“Everything about Dome suggested a younger skew
for us, so we liked Monday,” said Kelly Kahl, senior
executive VP of CBS primetime, pointing to the audiences
for Monday comedies such as How I Met Your
Mother and 2 Broke Girls. “Monday felt like a place where
we have succeeded and where we can succeed.”