ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey has explained the strategy behind moving two of the network's returning shows to Friday. ABC made some major changes to its 2017-18 lineup in the past week at the network's upfronts presentation, including the addition of the revival of the former FOX reality competition American Idol and the cancellation of such comedies as Dr. Ken and Last Man Standing, as well as the critically acclaimed drama American Crime.
Lucky for fans, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a fifth season and Once Upon a Time is coming back for Season 7 - although the fairy tale fantasy drama has already undergone some major changes.
Even more changes were made for both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once at ABC's upfronts Tuesday, with the announcement that both shows would be moving the to Friday night line-up (with S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 debuting midseason following Inhumans). Since it's a big move for both S.H.I.E.L.D. (which aired on Tuesdays) and Once (Sundays) – which both have received 22-episode orders – Dungey explained the reasoning behind it to the press as follows (hat tip EW):
“We’ve turned Friday into more of a destination for our fantasy and science fiction fans. Once Upon a Time and S.H.I.E.L.D. are airing on the same night for the first time, which is giving many fans of both shows what they’ve been asking for for a long time."
Apart from the fan-inspired idea of putting the shows on the same – an idea that apparently has been a long time coming – Dungey says Once (for once) will not have the battle NBC's behemoth, Sunday Night Football, for ratings. She says:
“When we were looking at the schedule, it’s interesting how much pressure we’ve had from fans to put those shows closer together on the schedule for quite some time,. We like the idea of Fridays being a destination. Once Upon a Time has done a wonderful job on Sundays of keeping the lights on against football, but we’re looking to see how it will perform when it’s away from football for awhile.”
Dungey saying the simple word "awhile" is a telling sign, indicating that the network always has the wiggle room to move the show – as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. – to the time slots they seem fit (S.H.I.E.L.D. and Once are not the first two shows the networks have shifted, and will be far from the last). Clearly, though, by branding the night as a destination for fantasy and sci-fi, the network appears committed to a longer-term plan, in a clear effort to boost ratings for both shows.
Either way, fans of S.H.I.E.L.D. have to be happy to know that the series has at least one more season to properly wrap things up (if it ends with Season 5), and Once is getting a a new chapter, essentially, as a soft reboot with less than a handful of its original cast members returning.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 concludes with "World's End' tonight. Once Upon a Time season 7 premieres this fall on ABC.