TV's top time-period battles this fall

"Revenge" -- currently higher rated than "Good Wife" -- will gain a stronger lead-in thanks to "Once Upon a Time."

Story highlights

  • ABC and NBC have their low-expectations comedies airing on Fridays this fall
  • 9 p.m. on Tuesday: Six comedies on three networks. It's a sitcom sigalert, a comedy battle royale
  • "Grey's Anatomy" is higher rated but "Glee" will have a better lead-in
With the fall TV schedule now complete, we get to step back and take a look at the hellish battleground that broadcast hath wrought.
There's some very tough-to-predict match-ups this fall:*
Tim Allen vs. Whitney Cummings (Fridays, 8-9): "No, my show's lamer!" ABC and NBC have their low-expectations comedies airing on Fridays this fall, and they might run head-to-head depending on when NBC launches (ABC's comedies premiere in November). NBC has "Whitney" and "Community" and ABC has "Last Man Standing" and new comedy "Malibu Country." ("Community" fans, if your a** beat by Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin, we have no words for you). At least 9 p.m. shows "Shark Tank" and "Grimm" will have half-way decent lead-ins for once. Our prediction: Edge goes to ABC.
Britney Spears vs. Christina ‪Aguilera‬: OK, so one this is kind of a cheat. "The Voice" and "X Factor" won't air on the same nights, let along in the same time period. But if you think their lack of head-to-head scheduling will matter to the media, you deserve to be hit, baby, one more time. Everybody will obsess over how these two compare. NBC's "The Voice" has the wind at its back, averaging 6.2 in the adult demo this season compared to "X Factor's" 4.4. We all want to see how Spears handles the reality show spotlight, but many wonder if she can pull off being entertaining and analytical. Mark Burnett cast "The Voice" with big names who are charismatic and have the cojones to criticize a singer. Simon Cowell seems to like big names — who are just big names. Prediction: You can't hold down Xtina.
"Two and a Half Men" vs. everything else (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.): My have times changed. Back in the day, "Men" was the star that helped to launch new comedies. Now it's been reduced to living in "The Big Bang Theory's" shadow on Thursday. Has CBS lost confidence in the franchise? Prediction: Even at its advanced age, "Men" being reunited with its former Monday night partner "Big Bang" will dominate the slot.
"Revenge" vs. "The Good Wife" (Sundays at 9 p.m.): Who's afraid of the big bad Sunday night? When ABC announced "Revenge" was moving to Sundays, fan reaction was like the show was being shipped off to Oxygen. There are still a ton of viewers watching on Sundays, but it's not the easiest place for serious broadcast dramas to compete: Smart and sophisticated programs on HBO, Showtime and AMC remain the must-watch priority for many viewers (which might be one reason Fox's animated comedies thrive here -- they're great counter programming). Prediction: While "Good Wife" is unlikely to grow, "Revenge" -- currently higher rated than "Good Wife" -- will gain a stronger lead-in thanks to "Once Upon a Time" than it typically received on Wednesday nights and could plot a victory.
Kaling & Deschanel vs. Perry & Van Der Beek (Tuesdays, 9-10): Look at the 9 p.m. hour on Tuesday. No really, look at it: Six comedies on three networks. It's a sitcom sigalert, a comedy battle royale. Fox was starting to get some traction with its comedy block on Tuesdays, so now everybody is loading up with their own half hours in this space. At 9 p.m., Zooey Deschanel will face off against Matthew Perry's new NBC comedy "Go On" and ABC's "Happy Endings," while 9:30 p.m. has Mindy Kaling's new comedy "The Mindy Project" vs. Ryan Murphy's inspired new show called "The New Normal" and ABC's Jason Van Der Beek starrer "Apt. 23." Lead-in will matter: "Go On" will have "The Voice" and "Happy Endings" will have "Dancing With the Stars." Prediction: Super tough to call against so many shows we haven't yet seen. We'll give incumbent "New Girl" the odds at 9. At 9:30, "The Mindy Project" might -- might — squeeze out a victory given "Apt. 23's" recent modest ratings and the fact "The New Normal" is on NBC, which has had a rough track record for launching new shows. (At the same time, "New Normal" played a lot better at the upfronts this week with advertisers while Mindy came across as a show in need of a ... show. Just saying.)
"Glee" vs. "Grey's Anatomy" vs. "Person of Interest" (Thursdays, 9-10): "Grey's Anatomy" is higher rated but "Glee" will have a better lead-in with "The X Factor." Still, both shows appeal to a similar female demographic -- assuming the chicks will still be invested in "Glee" once they learn who may go next season. (For more on who may be out the door on "Glee," click here). That's why CBS may have a real opportunity; while Fox and ABC duke it out over the females, the men may throw their hands up and see what's up with Jesus', er, Jim Cavaziel's show. Prediction: "Grey's" by a nose (in 18-49). "Glee" by a mile (in young viewers). This one is gonna be juicy.
*Do time periods still matter? Yup, otherwise networks could run shows at 3 a.m. and expect to get the same rating at 9 p.m. In fact, even factoring DVR use, shows running against heavy time-period competition are still likely to have a lower rating than a show up against repeats. Plus, advertisers and networks place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on live or near-live viewing.