The Big 4 networks are being cautious with their new Fall offerings, as the 2014 primetime season is about to get underway. Last year was one for the record books, with NBC capturing the No. 1 spot (averaging a 2.7 Adults 18-49 rating), the largest year-to-year gain for any of the Big 4 Nets in nine years. Fox scored second (with a 2.5), CBS followed close behind (2.4), and ABC was in 4th place (2.1).

Due to the close race, the networks are playing it safe with their newbies. They are being protective of almost every freshman show, accompanying most with a proven lead-in, unless the program was designed to be an 8 PM offering. CBS scored a coup on Thursday nights in the Fall, with Thursday Night Football, hoping to gain a success similar to NBC’s #1 rated Sunday Night Football. NBC will duke it out with CBS on Monday with The Voice matched up against The Big Bang Theory in the Fall. There is also a drama battle during football season on Mondays at 10 PM with NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), The Blacklist (NBC), and Castle (ABC). We are also curious to see how NBC’s The Blacklist (last year’s top new show) will do against ABC’s popular Scandal later in the season, when NBC moves it to Thursdays, post football. CBS is hopeful of a NCIS two hour power-block, launching NCIS: New Orleans with Scott Bakula at 9PM, on Tuesdays. Fox is also optimistic that their new Batman prequel drama, Gotham, will kick-off a strong week for them on Mondays, and they are praying that the re-vamped Idol franchise will not lose any more viewers, when it returns later in the season. The CW is playing it conservative, not changing anything on three of its five nights of Prime programming. And not shown here, but MyTV, (WPHL-TV locally) is hoping to garner a nice share of prime viewing, when they air the #1 cult hit, The Walking Dead in a two hour block on Wednesday nights (a huge win for them in syndication).

Trends we see are: 1.) A glut of “intelligent” themed dramas that focus on government agencies, such as the CIA, 2.) A lot of diversity in programming (one to note is a powerful Thursday 9-11 pairing on ABC of Kerry Washington’s veteran Scandal with new drama How to Get Away with Murder, starring Viola Davis). 3.) A lack of break-out comedies, and those put forward are mainly rom-coms (those in the romantic vein). One new comedy we like is Marry Me, airing Tuesdays on NBC, which may be boosted by a strong Voice lead-in.

It will be interesting to see how the new season plays out. CBS still retained the most viewers last year, while NBC the highest ratings, but the field is so competitive that it will be anyone’s guess who will take the top spots this year. We’ll let you know once the season gets underway.

Check out the full line up below courtesy of Deadline Holywood.

Courtesy of  Deadline Hollywood

Courtesy of Deadline Hollywood