Thursday, February 2, 2012

NBC True Power Rankings, January 2012

Here's part three of our journey through the five networks' scripted series by ranking their season-to-date TRUE averages. I've pushed the introductory stuff from the first post to the bottom.

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

The Mockumentary Division
1. The Office (3.12)
3. Parks and Recreation (1.95)

Like ABC and CBS, NBC has one comedy that vastly outshines pretty much all other entertainment programming on its network. Their second-strongest comedy, at least since the beginning of 2012, is from the same team of people. The big difference between NBC and ABC/CBS? That top comedy is not a "hot" show. It's consistently down 20%+ year-to-year. But so dire are things at NBC that they're considering spinning it off anyway. Did we learn nothing from LOLA, NBC?!

The Everything Else Division
2. Up All Night (2.15) (1.63)
4. Community (1.78)
5. 30 Rock (1.71)
6. Whitney (1.68) (1.56)
7. Are You There, Chelsea? (1.65)

When Whitney and Up All Night premiered to the same ratings this January, I gave brief consideration to just deleting every single thing on this blog that mentioned the words "True Strength." I decided to wait a bit and, indeed, Whitney caved under the Idol pressure to some extent. Let's see what happens when The Middle and Survivor return.

But Up All Night's lack of a bump post-Office remains pretty disappointing. I guess you could argue it says something about the fall of The Office, but the bottom line is that if the show really isn't going to get any bump, they should've just put 30 Rock there and put Up All Night somewhere else. Hindsight's 20/20.

The best way to win the game on NBC, where seemingly everything is tanking every week, is not to play. Using the post-flip results for Whit and UAN (second set of parenthesses), the "benched" Community sits on top of this whole morass, and 30 Rock has not improved on Community in any meaningful way.

The Dunzo
8. Free Agents (0.94)

The Renewables
1. Law and Order: SVU (2.17)
2. Parenthood (1.91)
3. Grimm (1.84)

SVU and Grimm have remained "solid" of late (compared to the above averages). But after sitting out the month of December, Parenthood returned in January in particularly ugly fashion (averaging just 1.57). I mean, you look at the shows in the next tier and it still feels like it should probably be back. But a February sweep filled with more 1.7 demos (or worse?!) for Parenthood plus good starts from Smash and timeslot replacement Fashion Star might make this kinda interesting. The more optimistic view: it may actually benefit from the early finish; like Community, it can sit in the clubhouse and watch everyone else crumble.

The Discard Pile
4. The Playboy Club (1.18)
5. Harry's Law (1.09)
6. Prime Suspect (1.06)
7. Chuck (0.96)
8. The Firm (0.86)

Once again, the best way to win is not to play. Bring back The Playboy Club!!! It was pulled from the schedule after hitting a 0.95 TRUE, but everything else in this division has done worse than that pretty recently. The Firm and Harry's Law are somehow still hanging on but not showing any signs of a turnaround.

The Tentpoles
1. Fear Factor (2.43)
2. The Biggest Loser Fall (2.09)
3. The Biggest Loser Spring (1.98)

OK, so Fear Factor is NBC's second-highest rated entertainment show of the season. That's counting all seven comedies and all eight dramas above. Yet it's somehow only gotten through five of its ten ordered originals in the eight weeks since its premiere (and that'll soon become nine weeks), and it's randomly making its triumphant return to the schedule on Sunday, February 12, thirty-four days after its last airing. It's like the network goes completely batshit from a scheduling standpoint whenever something works.

This is where I would normally ask where NBC will schedule the likely next run of episodes, but at this point I'm gonna wait and see what in the world they do with the ones they still have.

The Biggest Loser is yet another of the "down over 20%" club that claims a whole lot of reality shows among its membership. On the other networks, it would find itself in some pretty shaky territory now. On NBC, it's probably going to stick around. But this is a good opportunity to shorten the runtime (as will happen a good bit this spring when The Voice results shows join Tuesday).

The Filler
4. Dateline Fri (1.61)
5. Who's Still Standing? (1.39)
6. The Sing-Off (1.39)
7. Dateline Sun (0.94)
8. Rock Center (0.86)

So NBC took its overachieving holiday filler (The Sing-Off), put it in a competitive environment, and saw it get the same TRUE as this year's much more modest holiday filler (Who's Still Standing?). A lot of people saw this coming (though, at least in my case, not to that extent) but I still think it was worth a shot. Those December 2010 numbers were hard to ignore.

Will either ever air again? There were rumors around the end of The Sing-Off's season that it'd return to the holiday-time scheduling. I doubt they will be able to magically recapture the nearly 3.0 average of Sing-Off's best times in December, but even a little bump over this fall's numbers would make for a relatively worthy late December show. As for Who's Still Standing?, I could see it being another of those shows that ends up in the summer leading into America's Got Talent. I actually think it's probably done well enough to deserve that kind of shot. It'd probably at least do better than It's Worth WHAT?

The one result of Betty White's Off Their Rockers, not included above, got a 2.16. I doubt it'd do that well in a regular timeslot (you can't get a more compatible lead-in than her 90th birthday party) but I think there's at least a chance it could get filler-worthy ratings.

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.

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