The “Law & Order” franchise has been a ratings mainstay for NBC in prime for 17 years, but one incarnation of the show has a big test coming up as it moves to Thursdays on USA. “L&O: Criminal Intent” will be on the cable net that night, facing off against top dramas like “Without a Trace” on CBS and “ER” on NBC. “We’re the brand-new kid on the Thursday night block,” says series creator Dick Wolf, who adds that he has long wanted the Peacock Network to slot a “Law & Order” on Thursday because of the night’s heavy advertising demand.
“But NBC has had this little show called “ER,” “he notes. The nets typically use Thursdays for high-visibility shows like “CSI” on CBS and “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC. “The demand for spots on Thursday is so great because movie companies, automakers, fast-food chains and other retailers are convinced it’s the best night to reach people who live for weekends at the mall,” says Shari Anne Brill, senior vice president and director of programming for media buyer Carat, N.A.
As a result, says, Harry Keeshan, vice president of national broadcast for media buyer PHD USA, the cable channels have been intimidated by the power of the network line-ups and steered clear of Thursday night.
Editors Note: I went to high school with Jesse L Martin at the School of Performing Arts in Buffalo.