Not one to rest on its highly-rated laurels, USA Network is shaking up their programming strategy in 2010.
The network that often dominates basic cable ratings is walking away from Friday nights, putting its original dramas on nights of the week when more people watch television — and therefore when the competition is stiffer.
The Associated Press reports that, in the wake of the monster-rated series finale of Friday night’s Monk last month, USA will shift White Collar and Psych to Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (E/P), respectively.
“We decided it was time to take some risks,” chief executive, said. “Being complacent was never going to teach us anything.” She noted that her 16-year-old son asked her why White Collar was on Friday nights, saying that he and is friends would watch it otherwise., the network’s
USA also programs on Sunday, where the AP speculates Law and Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight are likely to land when they return. Burn Notice returns January 21 — on Thursday night, at 10 p.m.
The move may prove helpful to USA’s Friday night competition, particularly on its sister network, Syfy. (Both networks are owned by NBC Universal, with Hammer having oversight of Syfy, as well.) Friday has been the home of Syfy’s original dramas as long as it has had them, with the network recently reaching branching out to Tuesdays for the summer runs of Eureka and Warehouse 13.
That strategy has certainly proved successful. Those two series are currently Syfy’s highest-rated original dramas.
Stargate Universe, meanwhile, has struggled to maintain its viewership in the face of the acclaimed Monk — which set a basic cable record when 9.4 million viewers tuned in for the December 4 finale. It deep-sixed SGU‘s mid-season finale, giving “Justice” a series-low 1.34 million viewers on Friday night (story).
Because Friday is one of the week’s least watched nights of television, and because science fiction fans are more likely to be younger and more tech-savvy, it’s no surprise that Universe and Syfy’s other Friday shows regularly make the lists of TV’s most DVR’ed programs.
With USA no longer putting original series on Fridays — and FOX‘s Dollhouse going off the air this month — Syfy’s Caprica will be in a better position to capture some eyeballs from those who do stay home on Friday nights. And so will Stargate Universe, which returns with the second half of its first season on April 2.
Boosted by its ratings success, meanwhile, USA is taking on the big dogs: the four major broadcast networks.
“Usually cable networks try [programming] for months when broadcasters aren’t airing their own originals in order to get more attention,” the AP story observed. “USA, in other words, is starting to act like a broadcast network.”