NBC will look to continue its early-season momentum after the New Year by keeping Studio 60on the Sunset Strip on Mondays at 10, shifting Friday Night Lights to Wednesdays at 8 and implementing a two-hour reality block on Sundays in place of football.
Sundays will feature the new reality series Grease: You’re the One That I Want at 8, followed by the next cycle of The Apprentice. Crossing Jordan returns Sundays at 10.
Throughout January, NBC will lead off the night at 7 with installments of game shows Deal or No Deal or 1 VS 100 in an attempt to drive viewers to the new talent competition. That plan will kick off January 7 with a trumped-up edition of Deal. The Sunday airings in January will mean Deal runs three times a week, something both NBC and producer Endemol want to avoid when possible.
Beginning February 11, Dateline NBC will replace the game shows at 7.
“Sundays are a big priority for us in January,” says NBC scheduling chief Mitch Metcalf. “We can’t instantly replace those great football numbers, but we will be able to generate numbers that are above the year-ago first and second quarter numbers.”
As for Studio 60, the highly-anticipated Aaron Sorkin drama that has disappointed overall, NBC looked at swapping it with Medium Wednesdays at 10 among other options.
“Studio 60 has certainly settled into a number that is acceptable to us, but there is still upside there,” says Metcalf. “I can’t tell you the number of configurations we went through, but we decided to err on the side of holding steady.”
The Black Donnellys, a series once highly touted by the network, will finally debut later in the spring and slot into Studio 60’s Monday 10 pm timeslot. The network is still finalizing plans, but may air Studio 60 straight through without repeats and then bring on Donnellys for a 12-episode run, which could stretch into the summer.
The network has similar plans for rookie Jeff Goldblum drama Raines, which would move into the Las Vegas time period Fridays at 9.
The network also shifted Friday Night Lights to Wednesdays to get it out of the way of American Idol Tuesdays at 8, though it will still face Idol on some occasions when Fox stretches the show to multiple hours.
“We didn’t want to put it up week in and week out against Idol,” Metcalf says. “This is one we just have to put it on the schedule and try and grow it.”
The network also continues to monitor rookie comedy 30 Rock in its new Thursday timeslot. While the show has struggled in the ratings, NBC executives want to give it the chance to develop as they did with The Office.
“The next couple weeks are big for that show,” says Metcalf.
NBC’s midseason schedule:
8-9 p.m. -- Deal or No Deal
9-10 p.m. -- Heroes
10-11 p.m. -- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
8-9 p.m.-- Dateline NBC (beginning December 26)
9-10 p.m. -- Law & Order: Criminal Intent
10-11 p.m. -- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
8-9 p.m. -- Friday Night Lights (January 10)
9-10 p.m. -- Deal or No Deal (January 3)
10-11 p.m. -- Medium
8-9 p.m. -- My Name Is Earl
8:30-9 p.m. -- The Office
9-9:30 p.m. -- Scrubs
9:30-10 p.m. -- 30 Rock
10-11 p.m. -- ER
8-9 p.m. -- 1 VS 100
9-10 p.m. -- Las Vegas
10-11 p.m. -- Law & Order
7-8 p.m. -- Dateline NBC (February 11)
8-9 p.m. -- Grease: You're the One That I Want (January 7; first two weeks will run from 8-9:30 p.m.)
9-10 p.m. -- The Apprentice" (January 7; first two weeks will run from 9:30-11 p.m.)
10-11 p.m. -- Crossing Jordan (January 21)