Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ABC True Power Rankings, January 2012

Hell yeah. It's Power Rankings week. In case you missed the first set, I use season averages in my True Strength metric to rank each network's shows by genre. All averages this time are through January 29.

One change: This time, I am continuing to use the full list of TRUE scores this season, but I'm dropping both the biggest and the smallest result from each show's list (unless it has less than three results). With most shows (especially returning ones) this won't make a huge difference, but it does have the double benefit of 1) reducing the early-episode inflation present especially in new shows and 2) also dropping the occasional major outlier that the TRUE calculation can't properly portray for whatever reason.

Other networks: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | The CW

The Elite
1. Modern Family (5.84)
2. The Middle (3.25)

It probably won't be nearly as close to doubling everything else on its network as The Vampire Diaries (mostly because of Grey's Anatomy) but the gap between Modern Family and everything else is still pretty staggering. I'll get into this point more with CBS, but Modern Family's Wednesday repeats would certainly be renewed if they were an original drama...

2. Once Upon a Time (3.00)
Modern Family (R) (2.44)
3. Revenge (2.43)
4. Castle (2.32)

...and very likely if they were an original comedy! (They're stronger than Happy Endings and some recent episodes of the below, at least.) When your repeats would get renewed as an original, I think that's when you know you've arrived.

The Fall of the Comedy Division
3. Suburgatory (2.84)
4. Last Man Standing (2.84)

Double meanings! Of course, both these shows premiered this fall and were two of the many examples of a great autumn for new comedy. They've also both fallen a lot from their early numbers. I'd say these two shows' averages are among the least indicative of where they are now on all of TV. (Both are recently in the mid-2s in TRUE.) Suburgatory built from The Middle (in raw 18-49) in each of its first six episodes but has not done that in any of its last six. Since it's in a higher-viewed timeslot and has The Middle rather than local programming as a lead-in, that means it's typically a lot weaker than The Middle in TRUE.

Last Man Standing, meanwhile, has developed a habit of looking solid when NCIS is in repeats and fairly marginal when it isn't. In the last six episodes, it's broken a 2.5 demo twice (12/6/11 and 1/17/12), both of which came against an NCIS repeat.

I don't think either one is in trouble right now, but when we talk about expanding comedy presence, it's a more tenuous proposition here than it is on a CBS. CBS has four clearly anchor-worthy shows, and it's very much in doubt whether either of these are quite on that level.

The Flying Solo Division
5. Happy Endings (2.21)

What appeared to be genuine momentum for Happy Endings the last time I did one of these has ultimately fizzled into tiny if any increases from the early season results. But the show is now only marginally weaker than the two shows above it because they've come down so much, and it's still clearly stronger than the two shows that have been cancelled. Ultimately, I still think it's probably safer than it should be. I would tend to guess the good buzz will make it easier for ABC to just follow the superficially nice raw numbers and ignore silly stuff like opportunity cost. There are a few interesting comparisons ahead for this show with Cougar Town and Apartment 23 yet to premiere. Cougs' numbers late last season were almost Man Uppian.

I still feel like there are two separate comedy "brands" on ABC, the "family" brand and the "relationship" brand, and that they shouldn't really be mixed that much. Cougar Town, Happy Endings and Apartment 23 all should end up together. That prospect doesn't seem as impossible as maybe it did last time, but a couple things still need to happen: 1) Last Man Standing needs to get to a level where it doesn't feel anchor-worthy. It's arguably already there. And 2) Apartment 23 needs to be anchor-worthy ratings-wise. If this show is another Cougs or Happy Endings, it would really be tough to feel there's a foundation to send some combination of those shows off on their own.

The Dunzo
6. Man Up! (1.51)
7. Work It (1.39)

The Elites
1. Grey's Anatomy (3.71)
2. Once Upon a Time (3.00)

I've been playing around with completely eliminating the Sports as Competition adjustment. I still think the general idea that sports viewers are less likely to watch entertainment programs is sound. But it seems too harsh in practice, because it means that I'm taking away competition while leaving in the inflation in overall viewing. We'll see how Once does in a post-football environment. My point for now is that taking away the half-adjustment of sports, Once would score a 3.29 rather than the above 3.00. Whichever one is "truer," the show is clearly legit.

The 10 O'clock Flock
3.Revenge (2.43)
4. Castle (2.32)
5. Private Practice (2.14)

Revenge still looks solid, but things have gotten ugly (as in sub-2.0) for Castle and Private Practice in 2012. Usually Castle at this time of year can at least look forward to a big Dancing boost in the spring, but that seems more uncertain than ever with DWTS 1) coming off its weakest season and 2) facing The Voice for the first time. Private Practice probably isn't looking forward to its own post-DWTS stint coming this April, but it will be a nice extended look at just what its audience is apart from Grey's.

The Probably to Definitely Dunzo
6. Desperate Housewives (2.09)
7. Body of Proof (1.63)
8. Pan Am (1.41)
9. Charlie's Angels (1.26)

2012 has been kinda rough for everybody on Tuesday at 10/9c (I credit the absolute glut of cable options), but it's still pretty tough to see Body of Proof making it out of this season alive. But as I said last time, it's certainly much less of a flop than Detroit 1-8-7 was in this hour last year.

The Tentpoles
1. Dancing with the Stars Mon (3.15)
2. Dancing with the Stars Tue (2.60)
3. The Bachelor (2.06)
4. Winter Wipeout (2.03)

For now, most of my squawking about the decline of reality doesn't ultimately mean much, because most of those shows had enough of a cushion that they're still safe. That's probably true even of The Bachelor (especially since its average is likely to increase going forward). But a lot of the cushion is now gone, and another -20% year across the board could make a lot of these reliable franchises less safe than I think people realize.

The good thing you can say about Wipeout is it took a much smaller hit against the first week of Idol than last year. The bad thing is that it's still way down year-to-year. If it can keep getting upper 1s against Idol, it's probably closer to tentpole than filler. If it drops another big chunk, it might be time to keep the show in the summer for good.

The Filler
5. Celebrity Wife Swap (1.79)
6. Shark Tank (1.70)
7. Primetime: What Would You Do? (1.58)
8. 20/20 (1.55)
9. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (1.42)
10. America's Funniest Home Videos (1.41)

Celebrity Wife Swap has been about the same show TRUE-wise as V was last year (V was weaker in raw numbers, but with much smaller lead-ins). It's pulled superficially OK numbers, but against little competition. It likely wouldn't be renewed if it were a scripted show, but I could see it back in the filler between-DWTS role next year.

So far, Shark Tank and Primetime look like improvements on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but it's still early, and they haven't faced a full-strength CBS yet. In Shark Tank's case, the prospect of CBS actually going through with moving Undercover Boss to Friday could be a real problem.

The Dunzo (But Not Officially)
11. You Deserve It (0.74)


Spot said...


Spot said...

Liveandlearn51, if ABC/Disney made up the numbers for their shows, do you not think they'd make them higher? Especially for Desperate Housewives, in its final season the ratings are eroding to ugly series lows.

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