Monday, August 30, 2010

First T'Weaks

I intended for this post to go up no less than 3 months ago, and I wrote almost all of this back then, but other stuff got in the way of me finishing. With the new season getting somewhat near, though, perhaps it's an appropriate time to start gearing up for one of my in-season projects: First Two Weeks, in which I project the fate of new shows based on their first two data points. (More info at the top of my last post on the topic.) I've been looking for a way to tweak the system, hence the lame pun for this post's title. One last time for 2009-10, here's all the info, with everything greened and redded now that upfronts have passed.

The Vampire Diaries 6.3*
V 5.2
The Cleveland Show 4.9
NCIS: LA 4.4
Cougar Town 4.4
Modern Family 4.2
Flashforward 4.0
Melrose Place 3.9*
Community 3.8
Life Unexpected 3.6*

Glee 3.5
Accidentally on Purpose 3.3
The Good Wife 3.1
Parenthood 3.1
Eastwick 3.0
Human Target 2.9
Romantically Challenged 2.9
Past Life 2.8
The Middle 2.6
The Forgotten 2.6

Mercy 2.3
Trauma 2.2
Hank 2.1
Sons of Tucson 2.1
Three Rivers 1.9
The Deep End 1.8
The Beautiful Life: TBL 1.8*
Happy Town 1.7
Miami Medical 1.6
Brothers 1.0

*-Although A18-49 isn't necessarily the "CW demo," in an attempt to put them on a level playing field with the big 4, I've taken the A18-49 premiere number for the CW shows and multiplied it by 3.

The Good Wife +3%
The Deep End even
Accidentally on Purpose -6%
Flashforward -8%
Glee -9%
Mercy -9%
Modern Family -10%
Sons of Tucson -10%
The Cleveland Show -10%

Romantically Challenged -10%
Three Rivers -11%
Miami Medical -13%
Cougar Town -14%
The Vampire Diaries -16%
Parenthood -16%
Human Target -17%
The Beautiful Life: TBL -18%
The Middle -19%
Brothers - 20%

Trauma -23%
The Forgotten -23%
Eastwick -23%
Hank -24%
Life Unexpected -24%
V -27%
Happy Town -29%
Community -29%
Melrose Place -31%
Past Life -50%

EXCELLENT (6 points) - NCIS: Los Angeles, Flashforward, Modern Family, The Cleveland Show
GOOD ENOUGH (5 points) - The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town, Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Good Wife
BORDERLINE (4 points) - V, Mercy, The Deep End, Melrose Place, Human Target, Parenthood, Community, The Middle, Romantically Challenged, Life Unexpected, Sons of Tucson
IN TROUBLE (2-3 points) - TBL:TBL, Eastwick, Three Rivers, Past Life, Miami Medical, The Forgotten, Brothers (3 points), Trauma, Hank, Happy Town (2 points)

The only part of this system where there were multiple problems, in my opinion, was the "borderline" category, which was a combination of legitimately borderline shows as well as complete flops that ended up with no shot at renewal, including Melrose Place, Mercy, The Deep End, and Sons of Tucson.

Now, in three of those four cases, the story was the same; awful premiere that pretty much doomed it, followed by excellent retention of that awfulness. How to correct that problem? The best solution seems to be to increase the importance of the premiere. So now, the premiere gives point totals worth 5-3-1, while the retention still gives 3-2-1. That gives us this:

EXCELLENT (7-8 points) 8 - NCIS:LA, Flashforward, Modern Family, The Cleveland Show, 7 - The Vampire Diaries, Cougar Town
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - Accidentally on Purpose, Glee, The Good Wife, V, Melrose Place, Community, Life Unexpected
5 - Romantically Challenged, Human Target, The Middle, Parenthood
IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 4 - Mercy, The Deep End, Sons of Tucson, Past Life, The Forgotten, Eastwick 3 - Miami Medical, The Beautiful Life: TBL, Three Rivers, Brothers 2 - Trauma, Hank, Happy Town

So now "In Trouble" has several more shows but is still batting a thousand, while the "safe" category only has Flashforward, probably the only show that truly could not have possibly been given the correct prognosis based on its first two data points. 8 of 11 shows in "Borderline" got renewed, but that may well just be indicative of how renewal-heavy this year was. 13 of 30 newbies got renewed, or 43%. Well over the one-third number that is kinda the conventional wisdom.

How to parse the 11 shows in borderline? I tried breaking it down by network:
ABC (renewed 4/11)
EXCELLENT (7-8 points) 8 - Flashforward, Modern Family 7 - Cougar Town
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - V
5 - Romantically Challenged, The Middle
IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 4 - The Deep End, The Forgotten, Eastwick 2 - Hank, Happy Town

CBS (renewed 2/5)
EXCELLENT (7-8 points) 8 - NCIS:LA
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - Accidentally on Purpose, The Good Wife

IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 3 - Miami Medical, Three Rivers

NBC (renewed 2/4)
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - Community
5 - Parenthood
IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 4 - Mercy 2 - Trauma

FOX (renewed 3/6)
EXCELLENT (7-8 points) 8 - The Cleveland Show
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - Glee
5 - Human Target
IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 4 - Sons of Tucson, Past Life 3 - Brothers

CW (renewed 2/4)
EXCELLENT (7-8 points) 7 - The Vampire Diaries
BORDERLINE (5-6 points) 6 - Melrose Place, Life Unexpected

IN TROUBLE (2-4 points) 3 - The Beautiful Life: TBL

Now, I think this breakdown helps a lot, and the only real problem is that the % of shows renewed was pretty high this year. But you can still say that on each network, a little more than the top third did get renewed. With one exception (pesky little Flashforward) every single network has a certain point at which the shows just stop getting renewed. The network breakdown reduces the bubble from 11 shows to just six shows where there was a renewal and a cancellation on the same point level: Middle/Romantically, Good Wife/AoP, and LUX/Melrose. The one common thread out of the renewed shows seems to be that they had better critical acclaim/buzz, and I think that's often a good thing to look at as a deciding factor. I thought about trying to actually factor that in, but it's tough to do from a quantitative standpoint. (I looked at using something like Metacritic scores, but ultimately decided that was just making the whole thing way too convoluted for now.)

So the changes to the system for next season will be more importance on the premiere (5-3-1 scores vs. 3-2-1), and perhaps I'll look at the breakdowns by network more frequently. I'm also going to try and find some kind of multiplier that will let me use W18-34 rather than A18-49 for the Sampling portion... we'll see about that one.

The 2010-11 edition of the First Two Weeks system returns in about two and a half weeks with early-premiering CW shows Hellcats and Nikita. As with last year, I probably won't start launching into the lists and scoring portion until I have quite a few shows already done, most likely toward the end of the second week of the regular season, or about a month from now.

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