Friday, October 14, 2011

Notes from the Vault/True Bubbles, 10/14/11

As I said a couple weeks ago, from time to time I'm gonna make some observations about and using the True Strength metric that don't really fit with the other posts around here. I'm going to try to get a post together on viewing levels year-to-year next week (to get a better since of how well I "forecasted" the methodology change effects), so for now I'll just look at how the True metric feels about some early bubble situations. Here goes:

Strange Yet TRUE Comparisons

It's really early, but there are a few interesting bubble situations developing. In future versions of this, I'm hoping to be able to combine multiple data points, but at this juncture in the season, many shows are still Truly settling in. So all these are just last week's final TRUE only:

CBS Dramas

In True Strength, the CBS dramas of last year basically separated into three tiers: the elites (basically just NCIS and Criminal Minds, with NCIS much stronger), the "safe" but unspectacular tier (Hawaii Five-0, The Mentalist, NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI) and the "bubble" tier (CSI: Miami, Blue Bloods, CSI: NY, The Good Wife (also the cancelled Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and, just below, The Defenders)). 

Once again this year, there are basically those same three tiers with the same shows. Here are how all those returning shows stacked up last week:

NCIS 4.56
Criminal Minds 3.42

Hawaii Five-0 2.79
NCIS: Los Angeles 2.78
CSI 2.70
The Mentalist 2.56

Blue Bloods 2.24
CSI: Miami 2.12
CSI: NY 1.76
The Good Wife 1.56

They basically line up in the same general way as last year. The Mentalist has been a bit of a disappointment this year, but I still think at its current level it's fine. I'm still sort of concerned (in terms of the integrity of TRUE) about the Sunday 9/8c hour, where for three straight weeks the TRUEs have been really low do to colossal PUT calculations, but I'm pretty sure there's no way of really getting The Good Wife up into that second tier.

So how about the new shows? There's Person of Interest (2.44), which is basically right in the middle of the "safe" and the "bubble" tier and has posted almost the exact same TRUE every week (2.46 -> 2.44 -> 2.44). I think that means it's fairly safe at the moment, and it's held up better than it seemed like it might on premiere night. There's Unforgettable (1.94), which got dragged down by a much higher than usual PUT level last week (maybe baseball drove it up?) and then it took another drop from a 2.5 A18-49 to a 2.3 this week. So it's looking like it's on the low end of the "bubble" range. And A Gifted Man (1.19) is not in contention.

NBC Comedies
The Office 3.31
Up All Night 2.66

Parks and Recreation 1.95
Whitney 1.91
Community 1.73

I'm still not quite a believer in Up All Night as a Wednesday anchor, but for now it's clearly a TRUE step ahead of the other three non-Office comedies. It should remain so this week, and I'm pretty sure Whitney will actually fall behind Community (preliminary 2.0 vs. Community's 1.7 in raw 18-49). Last season, Outsourced and Community were basically neck-and-neck on a TRUE basis and NBC exiled Outsourced to 10:30; I see a similar fate for Whitney unless it can get its act together soon.

ABC Dramas
Grey's Anatomy 3.25

Revenge 2.27
Castle 2.15
Private Practice 1.80
Pan Am 1.64
Body of Proof 1.58
Charlie's Angels 1.17

No Housewives because it's already ending. Some big stuff has already happened this week: Revenge and Private Practice have risen by multiple ticks while Castle and Body of Proof both declined dramatically (in raw numbers; final TRUEs are TBA). It's a pretty big surprise to me, but it seems fairly certain at this point that Revenge is (at this early stage) separating from all of ABC's other 10/9c dramas. I'm also fairly certain it's between Pan Am and Body of Proof for least-safe. If I'm ABC, I may give Body of Proof a back-nine, but I'm not necessarily feeling as good about it as I was hoping to.

The wild card is the suddenly tanking Castle, which will look even worse in this week's ABC drama lineup. It faced a huge chunk of House this week due to MLB overrun, which couldn't have helped, but it was following Dancing with the Stars right down the tubes even in the weeks before.

Everything on the CW
Basically this network just has The Vampire Diaries and then a complete morass of mediocrity. Here's how it looked last week:

The Vampire Diaries 1.37

America's Next Top Model 0.77
The Secret Circle 0.74
Supernatural 0.73
Hart of Dixie 0.68
90210 0.65
Gossip Girl 0.64
Nikita 0.61

Ringer 0.50
H8R 0.33

So basically everything from Nikita thru Top Model is pretty tightly packed as of last week, with (at least for now) Ringer clearly a little behind the pack. This week, a couple big developments: Gossip Girl and Hart of Dixie each dropped in raw numbers and 90210 and Ringer each picked up a tick. In preliminaries, though, Ringer is still only in a virtual dead heat with Hart of Dixie. I'm expecting Ringer to be a little closer to the pack this week, but it'll be interesting to see going forward if any more separation develops.

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