Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Two Weeks, Smash


The premiere of Smash pulled in 11.44 million viewers and a 3.8 demo, dominating its timeslot against Castle and Hawaii Five-0. The good news is that the raw numbers made it one of the biggest drama premieres of the season and NBC's biggest drama premiere by a long shot. In fact, they haven't had a drama premiere that big since the Bionic Woman/Life duo back in fall 2007. The bad news: it had the biggest entertainment lead-in NBC's been able to provide in about half a decade; the two-hour The Voice (6.7) was NBC's biggest entertainment telecast since season one of Heroes. It dropped by 43% from the full Voice average and by more than half from the last half-hour (which averaged 7.7). Considering the two shows were a pretty good fit on paper, plus the mountains of promotion within the Super Bowl and The Voice, I'd call it a fairly "meh" start.

If week one was "meh," week two was probably a step below that. Smash dropped 26% of its premiere audience and hit a 2.8 demo. The Voice took its own double-digit drop (to a 6.0), but Smash's retention of the full telecast number is now below 50%. It barely held off Hawaii Five-0 (2.7) for the 10/9c timeslot lead, at least for now.

Taking the numbers out of it and looking back on NBC's fall 2011, Smash would appear to be one of the safest bets of midseason. They have to renew something, after all. But a lot of what's going on with this show just rubs me the wrong way. Start with the "meh" week one and the "below meh" week two ratings-wise described above. Then there was the bizarre way episode two ended, which I described on Twitter and in a previous post; first, episode two had a really odd sense of finality (including a freakin' retrospective montage), an ending that might turn off a lot of the "built-in" fanbase (again, if they didn't think the show was just plain over), and then NBC somehow didn't show a week three preview in most of the country that may have eased some of those potential concerns. (Apparently it wasn't ready, which I believe because it's really the only explanation, but that's still really bad.) Furthermore, the critics seem to be in agreement that episode three is a rather weak outing. Piling all those things together, I feel pretty confident the show isn't done dropping.

The tricky part is whether it could possibly drop into cancellation territory. NBC's standards for renewal are really low, and it seems quite possible the Voice lead-in simply won't allow Smash to get that low. For example, if the show settles at 2.0 or upper-1's out of an upper-4's The Voice, which seems pretty plausible, I think NBC could well renew it even though that's a pretty pathetic performance. But I think it's also plausible it could do even worse than that. The ratings say no, the state of NBC and their feelings about Smash say yes. I change my mind about this every minute, but I'm sick of agonizing over it, so I'm gonna go ahead and say yes to a season two. It still just has a little too far to drop on such an incredibly weak network before I think Smash-loving NBC would seriously consider getting rid of it.

"First Two Weeks" is my look at... the first two weeks of a new scripted broadcast show's ratings. I also line all of these numbers up to do an objective analysis in what I call "the system."


Spot said...

Sounds like a lot more agonizing went into this one than your final call on The River (which I haven't even read yet, but we all know what it'll say anyway).

Spot said...

Actually had the counter-argument written and nearly clicked Publish. (Something about my being more sure it will drop than I am about NBC giving it huge leeway.)

Spot said...

I heard episode 3 is just average but episode 4 and beyond are fantastic! So if people will give it a chance up to then it will succeed! Don't write it off yet! BIG SMASH FAN

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