TV Time Slot Wars – Thursday Night Showdown at 8pm ET

Since the fall of NBC’s once unbeatable Must See TV block, Thursday nights have become a bitterly contested battle ground. But which network has the primetime edge?

Parks & Recreation (NBC)

Now in its sixth season, this Amy Poehler led sitcom about the surreal and hilarious goings on at a small town Parks & Recreation department has seen better days. While the show is still one of the funniest on television, it hasn’t had an audience in excess of 4 million viewers since early 2012 and this year two key cast members – Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe – will be exiting the series mid-season. And with Parks acting as a weak lead-in, freshman comedy Welcome to the Family has bombed spectacularly. With the way things are going, it might not be a bad idea for NBC to say goodbye to the good people of Pawnee, Indiana.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Though the moody supernatural teen romantic drama isn’t pulling down record numbers for The CW anymore, it’s still one of the network’s highest rated programs and remains part of its core brand identity. Additionally, the show’s sixth season premiere saw a 14 percent ratings increase over last season’s finale and this month saw the successful debut of a spin-off called The Originals. As long as the Vampire Diaries keeps its ratings above the 2 million mark, it should go on to have a long, Smallville-sized run.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)

Spun off from ABC’s fairy tale hit Once Upon a Time, Wonderland is a quasi-prequel focused on Lewis Carroll’s Alice as she tries to escape the stifling confines of Victorian era England to return to the magic and awe of Wonderland. Unfortunately for fans of the brightly colored Wonderland, the series opener debuted to 5.82 million viewers, a 32 percent drop off from the 8.52 million that tuned in for Once Upon a Time’s third season premiere. If the moderately well-reviewed show was moved to a less competitive time slot, say right after its more successful sibling on Sunday nights – it might attract a more sizeable audience.

The X Factor (FOX)

2013 has not been kind to FOX’s musical competition shows. This year, American Idol had the lowest ratings of its 12-year run and things weren’t much better from former Idol host Simon Cowell’s new talent show. The third season of the U.S. edition of X Factor was watched by 6.45 million viewers, down whopping 2.28 million from the show’s second season premiere. While X Factor regularly comes in at second place for its time slot, it’s ever diminishing ratings are going to force FOX into making some hard decisions about the show’s future, most importantly if it should still have one.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

The reigning Thursday night leader, Chuck Lorre’s comedy about socially awkward nerds and the unbelievably gorgeous women who love them has never had higher ratings and recently hit the 20 million viewer mark with the second episode of its seventh season. Normally, a sitcom this long in the tooth would start seeing star exits and a flagging public profile but TV’s second most watched show has an undeniably bright future and woe be upon any fantasy serial, aging comedy or reality show that dares throw rocks at the throne.