Analysis: Media buyers weigh in on fall TV primetime winners: Thursday nights

This is the fourth in a five-part series (Part one: MIC June 30/05) that asks broadcast pundits' opinions on who's in, who's out and who doesn't stand a chance during the most coveted - and competitive - weeknight timeslots of 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Go to www.mediaincanada.com and click on 'TV Programming Grids' for visual aids.
'First of all, as an overall theme for Thursday night, I just want to say that there's a wealth of strong returning entries,' says Theresa Treutler, SVP media at Toronto-based Doner. 'It's a very tough slot for new properties.'

Seems the networks aren't messing with a formula that works. For 8 p.m., everyone agrees on the winner.

This is the fourth in a five-part series (Part one: MIC June 30/05) that asks broadcast pundits’ opinions on who’s in, who’s out and who doesn’t stand a chance during the most coveted – and competitive – weeknight timeslots of 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Go to www.mediaincanada.com and click on ‘TV Programming Grids’ for visual aids.

‘First of all, as an overall theme for Thursday night, I just want to say that there’s a wealth of strong returning entries,’ says Theresa Treutler, SVP media at Toronto-based Doner. ‘It’s a very tough slot for new properties.’

Seems the networks aren’t messing with a formula that works. For 8 p.m., everyone agrees on the winner.

‘In the case of (CTV’s) The O.C. versus Survivor (on Global), Survivor is the winner, hands down but The O.C. should be in the top 20,’ predicts Treutler.

‘For Everyone Hates Chris (on Citytv), why they would put it on at that time is beyond me. It won’t get a lot of trial with O.C. and Survivor,’ says Sheila Malanchuk, media strategy manager at OMD Vancouver. ‘I think Chris has a chance if it had a different time slot.’

Sherry O’Neil, managing director for broadcast at OMD in Toronto, agrees. ‘It makes no sense to me,’ she says about Chris. ‘They should be putting it where they can reap the rewards.’

For Ellen Baine, VP, programming at CHUM Television, the answer is easy. ‘We want to pick up the simulcast,’ she says, defending the net’s strategy. ‘We’re going after the Joey (on CH) audience. And sometimes you have to take a chance. Thursday has the highest TV viewing numbers, more people are watching TV then than on any other night. You just have to go for it.’

To that end, Treutler agrees that it’s a good strategy. ‘I think this will give Joey a run for its money and in fact, I think it will beat Joey. I think Chris has a pretty good lead-in with Friends and Sex and the City. It provides an interesting alternative to The O.C. and Survivor.’

For the 9 p.m. slot, Malanchuk and Treutler both see the win going to CSI.

‘It’s definitely CSI [on CTV,]‘ says Malanchuk. ‘I think The Apprentice (on Global) will maintain most of its audience but it will drop off a bit.’

‘Again, the results are consistent. CSI will outperform The Apprentice by a small margin,’ Treutler predicts. ‘On CH, there’s Reunion and I think it will survive because of the buzz it’s getting. Also, it follows The O.C. in the U.S. which is a good lead-in. It’s a good alternative to crime drama and The Apprentice.’

And for the 10 p.m. slot, both foresee the same trends.

ER [on CTV] is still going neck and neck with [Global's] Without a Trace. ER is doing better than Without a Trace but it really depends on what they’re doing with the cast. I think ER is on its way down and Without a Trace is slowly improving,’ sees Malanchuk. ‘In Vancouver, ER is beating it by a point but it’s not as much compared to two years ago when it was, like, two to three points.’

Without a Trace is a good property,’ agrees Treutler. ‘Coming out of this year, ER beat Without a Trace but the trend now is that ER is going down and Without a Trace is going up. There’s a lot of potential for Trace to narrow the gap. It’s a good property.’

Look for the fall Friday night lineup roundup in next Thursday’s MIC.