Earlier this year I suggested ABC move NASHVILLE to Sunday. Many others far smarter than me also suggested it and there were rumors that ABC was considering it. ABC smartly didn’t do that. First of all their Sunday dramas have all come down this winter while facing big events (Golden Globes, AFC game, Grammys) and while tonally it would have been a great fit, it probably would have dropped itself. Plus ABC would have had to start over on Wed again and odds are whatever they put there wouldn’t garner the consistent numbers that NASHVILLE has. So they would have likely had two 10p slots that need fixing and it possibly would have damaged their one freshmen show that has carved out an audience.
At this point, all 3 nets have a show that’s bringing in an audience Wed at 10 which is a rarity these days and I think it’s quite possible that all 3 will return to that slot in the fall – an even bigger rarity these days.
NASHVILLE has been getting a high 1 (in Jan there were 2 weeks it had a low 2.0) and there still seems potential for it to grow. It is strongest in the 18-34 and W18-34 demo where it is regularly number one Wed at 10, while falling behind CBS and NBC in total viewers (and the upper demos).
Currently THE BACHELOR is having one of its best seasons in years and in those same young female demos, its owning the competition. CASTLE has been hanging around the low 1s and high 2s all season, which outside a smash like SCANDAL is the current norm for most hit 10p dramas. But even last night with THE BACHELOR getting a season high at 9:30 of a 3.3, CASTLE only increased .2 from last week to a 2.2. It tied a season high for the show and was number 1 in its timeslot (and at 10:30 it beat HAWAII 5-0 handily 2.2-1.8) and yet I can’t help but feel it didn’t totally capitalize on the increased lead, especially with NBC not providing 10p competition unlike on Wed. CASTLE’s overall 18-49 number was only .4 ahead of last weeks NASHVILLE (1.8), and the latter show’s lead in was a 2.1 at 9:30 (Suburgatory) not a 3.3. It’s a much weaker lead than THE BACHELOR, especially with W18-34. NASHVILLE only lost .3 from its lead while CASTLE lost a full point. It’s worth noting that last month NASHVILLE got the same 2.2 CASTLE had last night when its Suburgatory lead in was only a 2.4 and it increased on it with total viewers, so I can’t help but wonder what it would have done with the bigger and more compatible Bachelor lead in.
(I should point out that CASTLE is one of ABCs strongest 10p players even in its 5th season. It has a strong core audience regardless of its lead in. Its ABCs highest 10p show in total viewers and last nights total viewers were higher than every other ABC drama last week. Reruns of the show are currently kicking ass on TNT and it’s more than a lock to return for a 6th season and likely beyond. This article is more to talk about the growing potential of NASHVILLE and how to harness that, not at all to diminish CASTLE. Okay, disclaimer over).
I would assume that more of the young female Bachelor viewers in the 18-34 demo might stick around for NASHVILLE. It got me thinking that CASTLE would likely get its regular Mon numbers on Wed and NASHVILLE would most likely grow even more after THE BACHELOR. If I were ABC I’d be a bit reticent to just move 2 shows around, but in this case I think it might actually have potential to benefit NASHVILLE while not hurting CASTLE and keeping Wed at 10p solid for ABC.
It’s s moot point because THE BACHELOR ends in 3 weeks and CASTLE is a much better fit with the older skewing DWTS than NASHVILLE is (though with 16 million viewers, it might actually help ABC grow in the upper demos and its overall audience number). Plus NBC will be a player again Mon at 10p next month when REVOLUTION returns following the mighty THE VOICE.
There was no way of knowing going into it that this season of THE BACHELOR was gonna grow to the extent it has for ABC to even contemplate a move like this before. Plus the way Nielsen numbers have gone lately, I would be worried NASHVILLE would be hurt anyway. Right now ABC has a solid Wed player that clearly has a devoted audience after only 13 eps (and one of TVs biggest DVR gainers regularly increasing 1.3 in the demo after 7 days). For the second time in 2 years they have a Wed 10p show that people want to watch after years of failing to find an option there that would last beyond 13 eps. If ABC wasn’t likely scheduling Mistresses for Mon at 10p this summer, I might suggest they rerun NASHVILLE after THE BACHELORette. But that is also likely a moot point.
Going forward, my gut right now says ABC should leave NASHVILLE Wed at 10 next season. They have a Wednesday show that’s working and they already moved their Wed show last year to another night. If I were them, I’d want to give the night and the show some stability. Plus it’s a bit too soon to even speculate about next fall. We don’t know yet how this season of DWTS will fare. Yes the last 3 seasons have each trended down and yes it will face The Voice unlike this season of THE BACHELOR, but it’s not unprecedented to see it grow. Look at the growth of THE BACHELOR now when many last year had insisted its best days were behind it. They cast someone people like and viewers are invested again. It’s not impossible for a similar thing to happen to DWTS.
If, however, ratings for DWTS remain where they were last fall, it won’t be surprising to see ABC move it to a once a year airing – maybe in between two seasons of THE BACHELOR. Should that happen and THE BACHELOR is airing Monday nights next fall, I might suggest that ABC flip NASHVILLE and CASTLE but that’s a lot of ifs between now and May.
To Be Revisited.