Friday Night: Television’s “Death Slot”

In the world of television, Friday night is known as the “death slot” because typically programs scheduled between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday are likely to be cancelled. Viewers, especially those in the coveted 18-34 age group, just don’t watch much TV on Fridays because they’re hitting the bars, attending sporting events, or going on dinner dates. In addition, the Friday prime-time slot is more likely to get preempted by events like big games or award shows on local affiliates. Not only is Friday night the kiss of death, that goes double if the show isn’t family friendly, since folks with kids are more likely to stay home on the weekends. Typically, Friday nights are reserved for relatively cheap-to-produce content that doesn’t require a lot of continuity to understand. That means a lot of mid-level 30-minute sitcoms, reruns, and reality shows. The good news for shows on Friday is that expectations are low and shows can get away with ratings that would get them cancelled on any other day of the week. The bad news is that Friday shows often struggle to meet the lowest ratings bar and wind up getting cancelled anyway. About the only winner in the Friday night slot is ABC, which heavily promotes its Friday night Disney Channel programming for children and families and its TGIF brand family-oriented shows.