NBC has already picked up seven new series for the 2012-13 season, and indications are that it will add at least three more before formally announcing its lineup on Sunday (May 13). But launching that many new shows in the fall is a pretty tough thing to do, so figure on six or seven new shows to make the cut and the remainder to be held for midseason.
That could still mean a pretty substantial makeover for the network, though. The pickups so far include five comedies, which suggests NBC wants to launch a second night of laughs. If we were running the network, we’d target Tuesdays (see below) for a new comedy block, with returning shows “Up All Night” and “Community” bookending two new series. Signs also point strongly to NBC moving “The Voice” to fall to stay competitive on Mondays, so we’re leaving that night alone.
Below is our best guess for what NBC’s fall 2012 schedule will be. All times are ET/PT, and new shows are in italics.
8 p.m. “The Voice”
10 p.m. “Smash”
Even if the Olympics give a big promotional push to NBC’s fall schedule, recent history shows sports viewership is something of a rented audience. The network needs an in-season, non-sports platform to help promote its new shows, and “The Voice” is as good as NBC has right now. If “Smash” is to survive, it probably needs the lead-in help. NBC could use stability here with big changes on several other nights.
8 p.m. “Up All Night”
8:30 p.m. “1600 Penn”
9 p.m. “Save Me”
9:30 p.m. “Community”
10 p.m. “Revolution”
Launching a comedy block here seems like an easier proposition than on Wednesday night, where ABC’s two-hour block is very strong and where FOX and CBS also have solid shows in “The X Factor” and “Survivor”/”Criminal Minds.” “Up All Night” may be a bit of wishful thinking, but it’s a decent fit with the family comedy of “1600 Penn.” If NBC doesn’t want to launch more than three new comedies in the fall (see Thursday lineup below), there’s a chance “Whitney” could sneak in at 9 o’clock. Some portion of the comedy lineup could get shelved in late fall for a “Voice” results show. “Revolution” will likely have to self-start at 10, but the network drama competition in that hour isn’t super-scary.
8 p.m. “The Biggest Loser”
9 p.m. “Law & Order: SVU”
10 p.m. “Chicago Fire”
Is this finally when NBC scales “The Biggest Loser” back to an hour? We can only hope the show’s ratings declines lead the network in that direction. Still, it’s a decent utility player in a reality-heavy hour. The rest of the night belongs to Dick Wolf, with “SVU” leading into his new show about firefighters.
8 p.m. “Go On”
8:30 p.m. “Parks and Recreation”
9 p.m. “The Office”
9:30 p.m. “The New Normal”
10 p.m. “County”
Putting Matthew Perry‘s new show “Go On” in the former “Friends” timeslot is a no-brainer in terms of marketing, even if it’s also risky when the show inevitably doesn’t draw “Friends”-like ratings (becasue no show draws “Friends”-like ratings anymore). “Parks and Rec” and “The Office” stay on the night, and the Ryan Murphy/Ali Adler comedy “The New Normal” gets the post-“Office” slot — which doesn’t mean what it once did but is still the safest harbor for a new comedy on the network. The high risk/high reward potential continues with medical drama “County,” which has already drawn “ER” comparisons. Why not lean into that?
8 p.m. “Dateline”
9 p.m. “Grimm”
10 p.m. “Parenthood”
“Grimm” gave NBC a pulse on Fridays this season, but it probably isn’t strong enough to thrive on another night. We hate to put “Parenthood” in this relative dead zone, but moving it to Friday opens up some space for new dramas elsewhere.
7 p.m. “Football Night in America”
8 p.m. “Sunday Night Football”
This isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time.
Midseason: The shortened final season of “30 Rock” will likely plug into one of the Thursday comedy spots, and new comedy “Animal Practice” can go wherever it’s needed. We hope NBC doesn’t try to do two cycles of “The Voice” — the potential for viewer fatigue is awfully high — so an all-drama lineup could make sense on Mondays, with the straight-to-series “Hannibal” and soapy “Notorious” among the possibilities. “The Celebrity Apprentice” is a good bet to be back on Sundays in the spring.
What do you think NBC’s schedule for next fall will look like?