Fall 2021 Time Slot Battles: Dramas, Comedies & Competitions Face Off

Rookie Nathan Fillion SEAL Team David Boranaz SWAT Shemar Moore
ABC/Scott Everett White; CBS; Sonja Flemming/CBS

With fall just around the corner — and ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and The CW‘s schedules for the 2021-2022 season all out — we know during which time slots we’ll have to make some tough calls.

For example, will dancing or singing win Monday nights with Dancing With the Stars and The Voice both at 8/7c? Which procedural will be victorious Wednesdays at 10/9c: Chicago P.D. or the return of CSI with Vegas? How will Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU do facing off once again? What will a night and time change mean for the long-running NCIS?

Below, we break down some of the biggest time slot battles TV viewers could be facing when it comes to what to watch live in the 2021-2022 season.


Dancing With the Stars vs. The Voice

At 8/7c, it’s a face-off of two-hour musical competitions: Dancing With the Stars on ABC and The Voice on NBC. But will people choose to tune in to comedy (CBS’ The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola) or drama (9-1-1) in the first hour? That might depend on what people thought of the changes to DWTS last season.

NCIS vs. The Big Leap vs. 4400

How will NCIS do now that it’s moved from its usual Tuesday nights at 8/7c to Mondays at 9/8c? It’s had no problem airing opposite The Voice (or one of the Bachelor Nation series) in the past, but this momentous move could shake things up. Plus, Fox will be debuting its new drama The Big Leap in the slot and CW is airing its reimagining of 4400. There is some competition.

The Good Doctor vs. NCIS: Hawai’i vs. Ordinary Joe

Good Doctor Freddie Highmore Ordinary Joe James Wolk Vanessa Lachey

The winner of the 10/9c slot may very well depend on what kind of drama you prefer: medical (The Good Doctor on ABC), procedural (the new NCIS spinoff on CBS), or character (Ordinary Joe on NBC). Hawai’i‘s ratings may very well depend on how NCIS does in its new home.


The Bachelorette vs. FBI vs. The Voice

How will FBI do kicking off a night of the franchise and taking over NCIS‘ slot at 8/7c? Will it be able to beat The Bachelorette and/or The Voice? Chances are it will — it’s been a steady performer at 9/8c — but it could very well depend on just how much FBI fans want to tune in to in one night.


Survivor vs. The Masked Singer vs. Chicago Med

Survivor is (finally) back after a pandemic-related hiatus, and it could very well hold its own just because of that against The Masked Singer (now entering its sixth season and not bringing in quite the same ratings as in the past) and Chicago Med. Or maybe the new version of The Wonder Years on ABC could draw away some viewers, at least at the beginning of the season, at 8/7c.

CSI: Vegas vs. Chicago P.D.

Chicago PD Jason Beghe CSI William Petersen

Lori Allen/NBC; Sonja Flemming/CBS

How do you prefer your procedural drama at 10/9c: forensic-focused (CSI: Vegas) or feet-on-the-ground (P.D.)? That may determine which series wins the night. The One Chicago franchise has been a steady performer for NBC since taking over Wednesdays, but the return of CSI (especially with original cast members) could very well have people tuning in live, at least for the first few episodes.


Grey’s Anatomy vs. Law & Order: SVU

Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU once again face off at 9/8c, and the former was the victor in the same battle this season. With Station 19 and Grey’s crossing over more than ever, might that keep people tuning in to ABC?

Big Sky vs. Bull vs. Law & Order: Organized Crime

Kylie Bunbury Big Sky Michael Weatherly Bull Christopher Meloni Organized Crime

ABC/Darko Sikman; David M. Russell/CBS; Heidi Gutman/NBC

Both Big Sky and Bull are moving nights and set to air opposite the second season of the Christopher Meloni-led spinoff at 10/9c. There could easily not be a clear winner with these three.


Shark Tank vs. S.W.A.T.

It’ll be particularly interesting to see what S.W.A.T.‘s ratings are with its move to Fridays at 8/7c since it’ll then be moving to Sundays at 10/9c. CBS usually does well on Friday nights (Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods are staying put). This is another one where we don’t expect any of the shows to win the slot with a landslide.


The Rookie vs. SEAL Team/S.W.A.T.

The Rookie remains in its 10/9c slot, with CBS airing the first four episodes of SEAL Team opposite it before it moves over to Paramount+. What will that mean for its — and S.W.A.T.‘s when it takes over the slot — ratings? (And don’t forget to take into account any sports overrun-related delays on CBS that could influence viewers’ decisions about what to watch live.) But CBS may have the edge on lead-ins: The Equalizer and NCIS: LA vs. Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and Supermarket Sweep.