May 12, 2019

NIELSENWAR: The NBC Fall 2019 Schedule & Analysis


We’ve reached the broadcast networks’ Upfront Week… which used to be a lot more central to our television lives than it is now.  Ratings everywhere are down, and there’s no reason to think they’ve hit bottom, which has caused seismic changes in the ways networks make scheduling decisions.  Among other things, with revenues from on-air linear advertising shrinking, distribution rights are key, and the desire for flexibility often means shorter orders than the traditional 13 + 9.  We’ll take a look at each network’s new slate as it’s announced.

As is traditional, NBC has kicked things off.

LAST SEASON:  NBC is in as strong a position as any network.  Once The Big Bang Theory ends its run this week, it’s likely that This Is Us will be the highest-rated scripted show on broadcast TV (for which it earned a whopping 3-season renewal).  Dick Wolf’s Chicago night is solid, and considering its advanced age, so is his SVUThe Voice isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still a force.  And of course there’s the powerhouse that is Sunday Night Football.  The cracks in the schedule are relatively minor ones compared to the other networks.

FALL:  That’s led NBC to make very few changes in its line-up, at least in the fall.  Here’s a night-by-night look:

Monday:  The Voice stays in place, followed by the new BLUFF CITY LAW, which looks about as standard-issue as one can imagine.  Set in Memphis, it’s about a father-daughter law firm that according to the trailer wants to “Change the World”.  The marquee star is the always-working Jimmy Smits.  The only notable factoid here is that series creator Dean Georgaris (who also had Baker & The Beauty picked up at ABC) has been in this timeslot before, as creator of the flop The Brave.

Tuesday:  Same as last fall, with The Voice leading into This Is Us and New Amsterdam.

Wednesday:  Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD return.

Thursday:  The fall’s two new sitcoms are slotted here, with PERFECT HARMONY following Superstore, and SUNNYSIDE airing after The Good Place.  Based on its trailer, Harmony seems like a reasonable fit with its lead-in, another tale of lovable misfits, this time revolving around a church choir and with Bradley Whitford as their initially reluctant leader.  Series creator Lesley Wake was previously a writer/producer on Speechless, Life In Pieces and New Girl, among others.  Sunnyside is produced by Good Place-meister Michael Schur, although its actual creators are star Kal Penn and Schurverse veteran Matt Murray.  Its trailer indicates another lovable underdogs show, although here with a bit of social commentary, as Penn plays a tutor of aspiring US citizens.  SVU returns to its 10PM slot.

Friday:  The Blacklist returns at 8PM, followed by 2 hours of Dateline.

Sunday:  Sunday Night Football, of course.

MIDSEASON:  The most remarkable thing about NBC’s slate is the sheer number of shows it’s holding for midseason.  They include newbie dramas COUNCIL OF DADS, LINCOLN and ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST, comedies INDEBTED and THE KENAN SHOW, the renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Will & Grace and Manifest, and possibly one or more of the currently not-canceled The Village, AP Bio, Abby’s and The Enemy Within.

FORECAST:  The idea was clearly to offer more of the same, and that’s likely to be the result.  None of the newcomers appear to be candidates for breakout hit status, so NBC will keep its hand and hope that things don’t slip too much over the next season.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."