New Year brings TV time slot tussles

Mon Jan 5, 2009 4:08am EST
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Soon new battles will wage in primetime: ABC's hit thriller "Lost" against Fox's new crime drama "Lie to Me" on Wednesday. NBC's comedy favorite "The Office" vs. Fox's reality hit "Hell's Kitchen" on Thursday.

And Fox's sci-fi drama "Dollhouse" competing with CBS' Canadian import "Flashpoint" on Friday, to name a few.

Below are some of the most intriguing new time-period face-offs on the midseason schedule, along with predictions on which show will emerge as more popular with viewers.

These are not the easy calls (you can probably figure out who will win the Wednesday duel between "American Idol" and "Knight Rider"), but the potential squeakers that could tilt the odds on a series' chance of survival and its networks' overall performance.

Some may wonder: In today's time-shifted, multi-channel universe, does it still matter if Drama A airs in the same time period as Reality Show B?

Yup -- arguably more than ever. Most viewers still watch TV shows live. But more importantly, with the ratings standard for what makes a hit broadcast series dropping, how well a show stacks up against competitors is often considered a fairer measurement of success than whether a show draws a huge audience.


Analysis: This battle begins Monday with a quartet of freshman reality premieres. CBS and Fox will slug it out for first and second place, while ABC and NBC will fight for third with these unscripted shows. "Bachelor" has ebbed in recent years, while "Superstars" brings the "American Idol" producers to NBC. At 10 p.m., "Beauty" -- about 10 attractive contestants tricked into believing they're being evaluated for their looks but who are actually being judged by their civility -- will go up against "Momma's Boys," which has had a modest December run.   Continued...

<p>Actress Olivia Williams, star of the TV series "Dollhouse," poses at the FOX television network's Eco Casino party in Los Angeles September 8, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>