Friday night death slot

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The "Friday night death slot" is a perceived graveyard slot in American television. It implies that a television program in the United States scheduled on Friday evenings (typically, from 8:00 to 11:00 pm) is destined for cancellation.

The term possibly began as a reflection of certain shows' dominance of Friday night in the 1980s, which condemned to death any television show scheduled opposite those programs.[1][2][3] Today it reflects the belief that Americans rarely watch TV on Friday or Saturday nights, as these days people (especially younger people) tend to leave home for other activities, thereby removing from the household the most lucrative demographics for advertisers.[4][5]


Programs affected by the "death slot" [edit]

ABC [edit]

TGIF was a successful block for ABC which ran from 1987 to 2000; it focused primarily on family-friendly sitcoms. Following the slow collapse of TGIF in the late 1990s, Friday night has fallen into a lower priority for the network. The following are examples of television shows that started on Friday nights and lasted a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually canceled:

Years airedSeriesSeasons lasted before cancellation
1999-2000Odd Man OutFirst and only season.
1998-2000The HughleysSecond season, last one on ABC. Moved to UPN in late 2000.
2000-2001Making the BandFirst season, only one on ABC. Moved to MTV in 2001, which aired the show for 11 more seasons.
2002-20058 Simple RulesThird and final season (2004). Series moved to this slot when ratings declined following the death of star John Ritter in the middle of the previous season.
2006-2010Ugly BettyFourth and final season (2009). The series moved to this timeslot due to disappointing ratings from season three's Thursday timeslot. Moved to Wednesday nights partway through the season.
2011-2012Extreme Makeover: Home EditionThe series ran on Sundays for eight seasons, but after declining ratings in the seventh and eighth seasons, it was moved to Friday nights for the ninth and final season.
2013Happy EndingsThird and final season (2013). The series moved to this timeslot due to disappointing ratings on Tuesdays paired with Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23, having previously lost Modern Family as its season 2 lead-in.
2013Malibu CountryFirst and only season.

Fox [edit]

Perhaps the network which has received the most attention, and has become the most well known for the "Friday Night Death Slot" has been Fox.[6]

The following are all examples of Fox shows that either started on Friday nights and lasted only a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually canceled.

Years airedSeriesSeasons lasted before cancellation
1993-1994The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.[7]First and only season.
2000FreakyLinksCancelled midway through its first and only season
2000-2002Dark AngelSecond and final season
2000-2004Boston PublicFourth and final season
2000-2006Malcolm in the MiddleSeventh and final season
2001-2006The Bernie Mac ShowFifth and final season
2002–2003Firefly[8]Cancelled during its first and only season, leaving three of its fourteen episodes unaired.
2002-2003FastlaneMoved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2002-2003John Doe
2003Wanda at LargeSecond and final season
2005Jonny Zero
2005Killer Instinct
2005-2009Prison BreakMoved to Friday midway through its fourth and final season
2006Vanished[10]Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2006JusticeMoved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2006-2007StandoffMoved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2007The Wedding Bells[11]
2008The Return of Jezebel James
2008Canterbury's LawMoved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2007-2009Don't Forget the LyricsThird season, last one on Fox. Moved to MyNetworkTV and syndication outlets with a new format in 2010.
2009Terminator: The Sarah Connor ChroniclesMoved to Friday midway through its second and final season.
2010The Good GuysMoved to Friday midway through its first and only season
2012The Finder[12]Moved to Friday midway through its first and only season.
2012-2013TouchSecond and final season

In January 2011, the sci-fi drama Fringe, then in its third season, was moved into this slot from Thursdays. According to Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly, nearly half of Fringe's viewership time shifts the show to watch at their convenience, and that "if it does anywhere near what it did on Thursdays, we can glue that show to the schedule because it can be a big win for us".[13] The Fox network created a promotion advertisement for Fringe that lampooned its reputation of the Friday night death slot prior to Fringe's move.[14][15] Despite encountering lower ratings after its move, Fringe was renewed for a fourth season,[16] and later for a shortened final fifth season to allow the creators to complete the story arc they had set out at the start of the program as well as to reach one hundred episodes allowing the show to be resold in syndication. Critics praised Fox for taking the risk and profit lost on the show to satisfy the creators' desires and fans' requests to complete the show's primary story.[17] The series finale aired on January 18, 2013.

After twenty years of unsuccessfully finding programming to fill the Friday night death slot, Fox gave up, leaving a one-hour empty hole in the 9:00 (Eastern Time) hour of their 2013-14 schedule. Encores of Fox programming from the previous week will air in that time slot. However in Late-Fall, comedy Raising Hope which will be airing it's fourth season and new comedy, Enlisted will premiere in the 9pm slot, hoping to revitalize Fox's Friday ratings.

NBC [edit]

One of the oldest and most famous examples of the start of the "Friday Death Slot" phenomenon started with the original Star Trek on NBC.[original research?]

The second season of Star Trek aired on Fridays from 8:30–9:30 pm in the Eastern Time Zone. Though NBC discussed plans to move it to a 7:30–8:30 pm slot on Mondays in the mid-season schedule changes, that never occurred. After fans deluged NBC with a mail-in protest, producer Gene Roddenberry stated that he was promised the same 8:30–9:30 time slot for Season 3, but on Monday instead of Friday. However, that would have meant Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In had to start a half-hour later (moving from 9:00 to 9:30). Laugh-In producer George Schlatter saw no reason why his show, which was a ratings smash at the time, had to yield its slot to the poorly rated Star Trek, and he made no secret of his displeasure.[18] Star Trek instead remained on Fridays, in the even less desirable 10:00 PM time slot.

CBS [edit]

In an effort to revive Friday night television in the 1990s, and to compete with ABC's successful TGIF block of family comedies airing opposite it, CBS first attempted to compete with ABC launching a comedy night in the fall of 1992 with The Golden Palace (a spin-off/continuation of NBC's The Golden Girls), Major Dad and Designing Women, along with a new sitcom from Bob Newhart, Bob.[citation needed] The Golden Girls had been a top-10 hit on Saturday nights for NBC (though it had fallen to 30th in its final season), while Major Dad and Designing Women had also been top-10 hits on Monday nights, and Newhart's previous sitcom, Newhart, had spent most of its run in the top 30. Nevertheless, this effort failed, and only Bob was renewed for the 1993–1994 season, only to end in December 1993.[19] A later effort to counterprogram TGIF, the CBS Block Party, met a similar fate in 1997.[20]

In general, however, CBS has found ways, particularly in the years following the cancellation of the Block Party, to be at least somewhat more successful in the Friday night time slots than its broadcast competitors.[21][22]

Other networks [edit]

UPN/The CW's WWE Friday Night SmackDown!, originally named SmackDown!, was first broadcast on UPN on Thursdays to compete with WCW Thunder (eventually forcing Thunder to Wednesdays because of high ratings, before WCW was ultimately purchased by Vince McMahon in 2001). UPN moved the show to Friday nights in the United States on September 9, 2005, because of low ratings in its original Thursday night slot, and the show retained its Friday night time slot after moving to The CW. Upon its move to the "death slot," UPN/The CW Friday nights saw a substantial increase in ratings over UPN's movies and most of The WB's sitcoms. SmackDown! had also initially garnered even better ratings in the death slot than the ratings on its former Thursday night airings (after the merging of WCW with WWE in 2001). Despite this, The CW chose not to renew SmackDown's contract in 2008 due to the change of the demographic of the network's viewers, and the show moved to MyNetworkTV that fall,[23] eventually leaving network television altogether with a move to SyFy in 2010.

UPN also moved Star Trek: Enterprise to Friday nights at the start of its fourth and final season in 2004. The show was pre-empted many times that season and suffered very low ratings with many fans choosing to watch the weekend replays instead. Near the end of the season, the series was cancelled. Despite widespread fan outrage and a "Save Enterprise" campaign that raised $30 million to fund a fifth season, Paramount stated that their viewers were unimportant in the decision-making process and that the cancellation was final. One person close to the show stated that the decision to cancel was made during the second season, indicating that the move to Friday nights was done solely to kill the show. Paramount has refused to comment on these allegations or why it decided to terminate the Star Trek franchise.[24][25][26][27][28]

See also [edit]

References [edit]

  1. ^ Katherine Phillips. "Witty sitcoms scheduled in Friday night death slot," Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 28, 1986, page 46: "ABC is sending two of this season's brightest new sitcoms to certain death at the hands of J.R. Ewing and his Dallas clan."
  2. ^ John Voorhees. "ABC reshuffles schedule for ratings but deals only two new shows," The Seattle Times, December 13, 1985, page C5: "Also being dropped is Our Family Honor, the ABC series that has had the distinction of being the lowest-rated Nielsen show almost every week since its debut. It is in the Friday night death slot of 10 pm, against Miami Vice and Falcon Crest.'
  3. ^ Knight-Ridder News Service. 'Family Honor' ditched for 'Spenser', Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), October 19, 1985, page C6: "Spenser: For Hire, the above-par detective series starring Robert Urich, is being moved out of the Friday-night death slot opposite Miami Vice and Falcon Crest. ... To make room for "Spenser," ABC is taking "Our Family Honor" off the air [Tuesdays], at least for a while and perhaps permanently.
  4. ^ News: Election 2006, The Austin Chronicle
  5. ^ Goodman, Tim (October 10, 2007). "Saturday night is dead, yes, but Friday, too?". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. E1. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ The 20 Greatest Shows Cancelled by Fox Before their Time. Topless Robot: August 14, 2009
  7. ^ Weiner, Allison Hope (2001-01-12). "Silence of the Lam". Entertainment Weekly (577). 
  8. ^ a b Emily Nussbaum. "Same Night, Same Channel, Same Giant Bummer" (interview with Tim Minear on the demise of Angel, Firefly, and Wonderfalls, The New York Times, April 18, 2004, page 25, column 1.
  9. ^ Minear, Tim (March 16, 2004). "An Open Letter from Tim Minear". Retrieved November 3, 2007. 
  10. ^ Ryan, Maureen. 'Smith' is gone, 'Heroes' gets a full season: TV news you can use. Chicago Tribune: October 6, 2006.
  11. ^ Wedding Bells in Jump The Shark[dead link]
  12. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica. Fox renews "Touch," cancels "The Finder," "Alcatraz" - Celebrity Circuit - CBS News. CBS News: May 10, 2012.
  13. ^ Rice, Lynette (November 22, 2010). "Fox execs on 'American Idol,' 'Fringe' moves: 'It's the right moment'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ Buchaan, Kyle (December 14, 2010). "Fox Markets Fringe With New ‘Friday Death Slot’ Ad". New York Magazine. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  15. ^ Jensen, Jeff (December 16, 2010). "'Fringe' exclusive: Fox execs on its 'deathslot'-spoofing promo and plans to attract new viewers". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ Rice, Lynette (March 24, 2011). "'Fringe' renewed for a fourth season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  17. ^ Poniewozik, James (2012-04-27). "Best of Both Worlds: Fringe Gets One More (Final) Season". Time. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  18. ^ "A Look at Star Trek" at
  19. ^ Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946–present, 7th edition.
  20. ^ Lowry, Brian (2000-04-14). "‘TGIF’? Well, ABC's Not So Sure Anymore". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  21. ^ CBS Casts a Spell Over Friday Night.[verification needed] Zap2It: November 3, 2007
  22. ^ Friday Night 'Numb3rs' Favor CBS.[verification needed] Zap2It: November 10, 2007
  23. ^ WWE Puts the 'Smackdown' on MyNetworkTV – Show will make its new network debut in the fall – Zap2it
  24. ^ [1]
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  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ [5]

Further reading [edit]