The Media Notepad: ABC, The CW announce 2024-25 lineups

Also: The Drive reclaims the top spot in Chicago radio ratings; Young Sheldon redeems himself  

[Editor’s Note: The second item of this piece was updated on May 21.]

Wrapping up the upfronts:

ABC released its fall schedule last week as part of a Disney upfront presentation that hardly mentioned the network. And little wonder – there isn’t much to talk about unless you’re a big unscripted fan as traditional sitcoms and dramas took a back seat, looking more like the lineups of Fox and The CW (see next item) – telling us how the business has changed in the streaming era.

Monday Night Football has a reduced presence this year but will have no fewer than ten simulcasts with ESPN, down from a full season last year because of the Hollywood work stoppages. But ten is still plenty as ABC has yet to schedule what would air on Mondays when football is exclusively on ESPN and ESPN 2.

Longtime Monday stalwart Dancing With The Stars moves to Tuesday, continuing its simulcast on Disney Plus after the streamer exclusively aired it in 2022, followed by new crime drama High Potential – one of only three new shows on the schedule.

In an interesting old-school programming maneuver, The Bachelor franchise expands to 90 minutes as The Golden Bachelorette takes CBS’ Survivor on Wednesdays, followed by Abbott Elementary – the only sitcom on ABC’s fall schedule. The final primetime hour features a documentary series based on a podcast called Scamanda, about a woman who fakes cancer to scam people out of money. Very little information was released about this project, so we’ll have to see to believe it when it debuts.

Thursday features new medical drama Doctor Odyssey set aboard a cruise ship “where the staff works hard and plays harder”, giving new meaning to the Carnival Funship Cruise. It’s nestled in between 9-1-1 and Grey’s Anatomy, giving ABC a first responder-medical night. Fridays (Shark Tank, 20/20) and Saturdays (college football) remain unchanged, though ABC will be the new home of SEC Football this fall in the 2:30 p.m. (CT) window.

Sundays has long-running AFHV followed by The Wonderful World Of Disney, basically recent Disney theatricals, until American Idol returns in February.

And joining Idol in midseason is the final season of The Conners, Will Trent, The Rookie, The Bachelor, Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy, What Would You Do, and the return of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Nexstar-owned The CW was the last network to announce its fall lineup – the second with mostly non-scripted and imported fare, with a new affiliate lineup – notably without Scripps‘ stations and reclaiming Chicago’s WGN-TV, who is airing CW primetime programming for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Mondays feature two game shows: Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, the latter marking its return to television for the first time since 1990 when it was on NBC’s daytime lineup.

Tuesdays featuring WWE NXT, which moves from USA Network.

Wednesdays has the second season of Canadian drama Sullivan’s Crossing followed by British procedural Joan for a six-episode run. Thursdays features the fourth and final season of Superman & Lois followed by The Liberians: The Final Chapter.

Fridays has Whose Line Is It Anyway and a revamped Inside The NFL. Weekends mirror ABC’s, with sports on Saturday (mostly college football and NASCAR) and a Sunday movie.

Midseason features two new dramas: Good Cop/Bad Cop and Sherlock’s Daughter.

The fates of two other programs – All American: Homecoming and Walker – both were CW shows before Nexstar took over – are unknown as a dispute has risen over production costs as the network is moving away from homegrown scripted fare (Walker was canceled Tuesday.) Another series, the Canadian-produced Family Law, is also absent for unknown reasons.

The CW will be airing more sporting events next season and is seeking more, meaning WGN’s weekend afternoon newscasts at 5 p.m. could be scrapped some weeks, or perhaps altogether and their 9 p.m. Saturday news show could be delayed into late-night due to football overruns (The CW recently struck a deal with what’s left of the Pac-12.)

The series finale of Young Sheldon on CBS was a ratings success – but also a surprise critical one. 

According to Nielsen numbers for May 16, The Big Bang Theory spin-off finished with a four-year high drawing 9.2 million viewers – a million of those in the 18-49 demographic, and the top entertainment show for the evening.

Premiering on September 25, 2017 with 16.57 million viewers, Young Sheldon finished as the top-rated show of the 2017-18 season and was television’s top comedy since 2019. The sitcom went into syndication in 2021.

There was some confusion on if CBS canceled the show (as series co-star Annie Potts suggested.) But the creators point out the series needed to reach a natural conclusion and ending after the seventh season was the plan all along considering Sheldon leaving for CalTech at 14, according to The Big Bang Theory show Bible – and Iain Armitage, who portrays the character, is already at that age.

Even though Sheldon wasn’t exactly a critical darling – and often the butt of jokes here and elsewhere given the complete shallowness and selfish nature of the lead character, the two-episode finale was well done, showing the complete range of emotions of the Cooper family after losing the head of the family to a heart attack – one the person writing this can relate after I lost my father five months ago. It was an hour of great television – something I usually don’t say about linear TV these days.

It was also great seeing Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons revive their TBBT characters, though it was strange seeing them in a single-camera sitcom setup as their former show was multi-cam. As you would have guessed, the entire series was based on Old Sheldon’s memoirs – akin to the final episode of Newhart, where Bob Hartley had a dream about running an inn in Vermont for eight years. 

With Sheldon in the books, now the focus is on the spinoff series Georgie And Mandy’s First Marriage, featuring Montana Jordan and Emily Osment, which in a departure from Sheldon, is a multi-cam shot show, in front of a live audience.

After several months out of the top spot, Hubbard’s The Drive (WDRV-FM) reclaimed the top spot in the monthly Chicago PPM ratings report but had some help from 93.9 The Lite. 

According to Nielsen’s April numbers, The Drive finished first but fell 6 percent from the previous month. But 93.9 The Lite (WLIT) fell nearly a full share point – 13 percent to be exact – to drop into second place. The iHeartMedia adult contemporary station still had a cume of over a million unique listeners last month, more than any station in the Chicago area. 

V103 finished third, while Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM tied for fourth place with a resurgent WOJO-FM, who showed a 16 percent increase. 

Also showing gains were WLS-FM, WGN-AM, and 670 The Score (WSCR-AM), as the weather is getting nicer and more and more people are about and about listening in their cars. 

Conservative talker WLS-AM finished 27th, falling 36 percent from last month, while non-commercial WBEZ, who made headlines in March for making numerous layoffs and programming cutbacks, was flat. 

Keep in mind these numbers are based on radio listeners ages 6 and up and are not used to determine ad rates. Also, several stations – notably conservative talk WIND-AM and sports talk ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM) no longer subscribe to Nielsen, thus no numbers listed on the chart.


1 thought on “The Media Notepad: ABC, The CW announce 2024-25 lineups

    • As far as the MNF schedule for this upcoming season, the biggest beneficiary will be ABC’s Los Angeles flagship KABC.

      Besides the ABC exclusives and simulcasts, but KABC will also have the week 7 matchup between the Chargers at the Cardinals (also on ESPN+), Dolphins at Rams in week 10, and the revived Harbaugh Bowl in week 12 (Ravens at Chargers). In total, ABC7 Los Angeles will have twelve ESPN-produced regular season telecasts: the three aforementioned games, three network exclusives, and six ABC-ESPN simulcasts.

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