Today ABC announced its prime-time fall lineup and in a bold move sent Grey's Anatomy to Thursday nights at 9PM, in a bid to knock off CSI over on CBS.
The news reports are calling this an "aggressive" strategy by ABC, moving a rising hit show to a tough time period to try and knock off CSI. There's a better word to describe this strategy, though: "crazy".
The heck are they thinking moving Grey's Anatomy from a winning time slot on Sundays to a night when CSI routinely cleans everyone's clock? Thursday is literally the night of death for ABC. This was the night where Alias was sent to die. Of course, it's different here because ABC is giving Grey's Anatomy a big vote of confidence by sending it into battle with CBS. But still, it's going against CSI!
Maybe they think Grey's Anatomy will help ABC turn the night around quickly for them and help the network become Number One overall. Maybe that show can take down CSI a notch and ensure that an ABC show like Desperate Housewives or Lost becomes the number one show for the entire season. Maybe they also think they can make a hit out of any show that follows Desperate Housewives. But I just don't see how they can knock off CSI, especially since CSI has a lot of female viewers who are hooked on the show. In fact I read that a lot of these procedural-type shows have big female audiences. And fat chance that you'll be seeing the guys who also tune in to CSI switching the channel to Grey's Anatomy.
Something else has got to be in play here. I think what this really is, here, is a daring attempt by ABC to absolutely kill NBC on its traditional strong night of the schedule. NBC is moving its rising comedies My Name is Earl and The Office to the 8PM hour, and is premiering one of its best new Thursday hopes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, in the CSI time period. Maybe ABC figures that by turning the 9PM time slot into a showdown between ABC and CBS that they can cripple the best new show NBC has and get it cancelled fast, and destroy the lead-in for E.R. while they're at it. They could help run E.R. right off the air! If E.R. is cancelled, what show will the E.R. fans have to watch? You guessed it: Grey's Anatomy.
Is ABC being crazy? Yes. But they aren't being stupid. This is a brilliant move on their part, moving Grey's Anatomy to Thursdays, but not for the obvious reasons people might think of. We'll see how this plays out. I gather Studio 60's Aaron Sorkin and Matthew Perry are going to want to see a doctor over this news. Same with all the programmers over at NBC. This ABC move has created one big headache for all of them, already.