‘Primetime’ Move Could Whip Up Speculation

Mar 29, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A schedule change announced Wednesday by ABC is likely to increase speculation about the future of ABC News’ “Primetime.”

The network is moving the newsmagazine to 9 p.m. (ET) Fridays for three weeks starting April 14. It’s part of a scheduling change that brings struggling freshman drama “Commander in Chief” back from hiatus to inhabit “Primetime’s” time slot of 17 years, 10 p.m. Thursdays, starting April 13.

The off-night “Primetime” broadcasts are scheduled for April 14, April 21 and May 5. The announcement from ABC said “Primetime” will return to its regular time period Thursday, May 25, the day after the May sweeps ratings book ends.

That means that no “Primetime” editions are scheduled for three of the four sweeps weeks, which is generally a sign that the network does not consider a show a sturdy ratings contributor.

There has been rising speculation about whether a strong entertainment development slate might dim “Primetime’s” chances for a return to Thursdays in the 2006-07 season.

A spokeswoman for “Primetime” said the decision by ABC News and ABC Entertainment to move and pre-empt the newsmagazine was mutual. She said the March 23 edition, when John Quinones reported on how people responded to actors posing as racist cab drivers, scored a 4.5 rating in the 18 to 49 demo, the best for the newsmagazine since November 2003 and the best for any broadcast network newsmagazine since January, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

ABC’s Thursday night lineup has perked up with the addition of such hits as “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Inventor.”

The rejiggered Thursday night will start with special hurricane-themed editions of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition-After the Storm” at 8 p.m., “American Inventor” at 9 p.m. and “Commander in Chief” at 10 p.m.

The temporary Friday lineup with start with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” at 8 p.m., “Primetime” at 9 p.m. and “20/20” at 10 p.m.

In another change, the Kelly Ripa comedy “Hope & Faith” will air twice and “Less Than Perfect” will return to the air on Tuesday starting April 18. The schedule will start with “According to Jim” at 8 p.m., with “Hope & Faith” at 8:30 and 9 p.m., “Less Than Perfect” at 9:30 p.m. and “Boston Legal” at 10 p.m.