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The Week That Will Be
January 3

It is the understatement of the year to say that the AMPTP walking away from the table during their standoff with the WGA was a gamble. Yes, the scripted programming will be scarce, but reality shows have held a HUGE chunk of ratings this past year, and some of the juggernauts will be rolling out their beasts. Hello, American Idol. Hello, Dancing with the Stars. Hello, America's Next Top Model. Hello, Crowne…OK, that one, not so much. The next two weeks will determine whether the AMPTP's gamble was worth the payoff - or if they will be slinking back to the bargaining table with their tail tucked between their legs.

This week's Numbers Game, we'll be playing with numbers in a different angle…

Programming percentage as of January, 2008

ABC - (Out of 22 hours)
Scripted Entertainment - 13 Hours (61%) (2.5 Hours of repeats)
Game Shows - 2 Hours (9%)
Other Reality - 4 Hours (18%)
Other - 3 Hours (Saturday Night Movie) (12%)

ABC has the least to gain - or lose - on game shows, with only 2 hours worth of them. The only 'new' show is Dance War, and even if that founders, reality show stalwarts America's Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover, Wife Swap and Super Nanny shouldn't. No, I'm not forgetting Dancing With the Stars or The Bachelor, but they doesn't return until March, and we're talking January right now. This network will probably be the least affected by the ratings - but will certainly be the most affected should the strike be prolonged.

CBS - (Out of 22 Hours)
Scripted Entertainment - 14 Hours (66%) (7 Hours of Repeats)
Game Shows - 4 Hours (15%)
Other Reality - 2 Hours (9%)
Other - 2 Hours (Crime Time Repeats) (9%)

Like ABC, CBS also isn't putting much of their stock in reality or game show programming…yet, though with half of their scripted entertainment in repeats now, that can change. They have Survivor and Big Brother lined up for their runs, with another edition of Big Brother arriving in mid-February. Power of 10 also shows up, but I can't imagine it having much of an impact against both Deal or No Deal and American Idol in the Wednesday slot. 60 Minutes and 48 Hours are the other non-scripted shows, and I expect those to do well. Like ABC, CBS has nothing to worry about in the short term, but problems loom ahead if the strike hits Springtime. The only reason why it has a little more breathing room than ABC is because it can roll out both another hour of Big Brother and Big Brother After Dark as collateral.

FOX (Out of 15 Hours)
Scripted Entertainment - 8 Hours (53%) (3.5 hours of repeats)
Game Shows - 5 Hours (33%)
Other Reality - 2 Hours (14%)

That rolling sound in the background is FOX about to fire its American Idol cannon into the crowd of repeats. This is the network that will benefit the most from the strike, especially during Spring-time, when Idol will go up against reality-laden programming for sweeps. Add proven winners '5th Grader' and 'Don't Forget the Lyrics' into the mix, and FOX is a happy camper. And so what if 'The Moment of Truth' bombs - of all the networks, FOX has the most number of series in the can - seven - ready to go at a moment's notice, including Hell's Kitchen 4. With a healthy mix of both scripted and non-scripted entertainment, FOX looks like the one to beat in the Spring.

NBC (Out of 22 Hours)
Scripted Entertainment called Law and Order - 5 Hours (23%)
Scripted Entertainment not called Law and Order - 6 Hours (27%) (5 hours of repeats between them)
Game Shows - 5 Hours (23%)
Other Reality - 2 Hours (9%)
Other - 4 Hours (Are You Ready For Some Football?..or…Are You Ready for Repurposed weekly shows on Sunday?) (18%)

NBC is going for a huge slate of unproven shows. And for their sake, it better work - unless they broker a deal with the NFL for the playoffs, Football is going bye-bye, and while repeats of Monk and Psych are nice, they probably aren't going to cut it (Knight Rider does not show up until February). With all of this new programming coming in (Gladiators, 1 vs. 100, The Apprentice), this could either be a major gamble that pays off - or an unmitigated disaster.

The CW (Out of 13 Hours)
Scripted Entertainment - 8 Hours (61%) (2 hours of repeats)
Game Shows - 3 Hours (23%) (2 hours of repeats)
Other - 2 Hours (Smackdown) (16%)

Now we get to the lightweights. Almost 40% of the CW's shows are not scripted. Unfortunately for them, 60% of that is Crowned, which has been crowned in the ratings. Who would have thought that Vince McMahon may be needed to provide more programming to save a network. Scary. In what has been a very disappointing season so far, you'd have to think that the CW are hoping that Tyra Banks can bring America's Next Top Model back with a 32 week season.

MyNetwork TV (Out of 12 hours)
Scripted Entertainment - 0 Hours (0%)
Game Shows - 1 Hour (8%)  (a repeat at Meet My Folks)
Other Reality - 6 Hours (50%)
Other - 5 Hours (Movies, Various) (42%)

The only reason why we're even mentioning this 'network' is because 1. It has a game show (Meet My Folks and then the soon to be unleashed Paradise Hotel) and 2. The strike could actually HELP them… if they stay on the air that long to reap any benefits out of it. Note to executives: 1. Telenovelas - not a good idea. 2. All reality, all the time - also not a good idea.

Total (Out of 94 Hours, and not including MyNetwork, which really doesn't count)

Scripted Entertainment - 54 Hours (57%)
Game Shows - 19 Hours (20%)
Other Reality - 10 Hours (11%)
Other - 11 Hours (Movies, Various) (12%)

So out of the networks, we have 57% of shows being scripted, but if you take out the 22 hours of repeated programming and 4 hours of repeat game shows and movies, you only have 32 hours of Scripted programming, vs. 36 hours of non-scripted programming. So if you want to watch something new, more than half the time, it will be a game or reality show. And if this strike keeps going on, expect the numbers to skewer well into the non-scripted programming area.

Will the trend stay like that? Only if the ratings warrant it. Join us in seven days for possibly the most important week of game show ratings ever.

Gordon Pepper has the light for the Idol Cannon ready in his hot little hands. Tell him to fire at