Prime-Time Matchup

A breakdown of shows going head-to-head

ABC Revenge vs. CBS The Good Wife vs. NBC Sunday Night Football

If Revenge is a dish best served cold, it also goes down a lot smoother with a big, dramatic lead-in. ABC is shifting its pulpy Emily VanCamp thriller from Wednesday to Sunday, where it will benefi t from a cozy association with fellow sophomore drama Once Upon a Time.

While Revenge was a modest success for a network desperate to establish a few big hours (Season 1 delivered an average 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demo), Once Upon a Time is a runaway hit, brewing up nearly 10 million viewers every week and a 3.1 where it counts the most.

Along with its bewitching new lead-in, the move to a much more female-friendly time slot should boost Revenge’s profile, though it will likely do so at the expense of The Good Wife. The Emmy-winning legal drama has faced more plot twists than Alicia and Kalinda combined, maintaining a 2.1 rating in its third season despite the ravages of its stuttered starting times. In the fall, The Good Wife—along with the entire CBS Sunday lineup—was often delayed by as much as half an hour due to NFL games going beyond their allotted time.

CBS programming chief Kelly Kahl says The Good Wife is more than up to the challenge, noting that the show held up against ABC’s Desperate Housewives. But both shows are essentially fi ghting for second place; per Nielsen, one-third of the gargantuan Sunday Night Football audience is female.