Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ABC True Power Rankings, March 2013

It's time for another edition of the True Power Rankings! I line up every entertainment program in broadcast primetime by network/category using my timeslot metric True2, offering my take on the ratings strength of the shows.

As on the Weekly True Power Rankings, these True2 and A18-49 numbers are averages of the last third of the season's episodes to date rounded up (and, new in this edition, excluding most season finales). The number of episodes in the average is listed under "Counted Eps." These numbers are all through March 3.

Other March True Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Elite
1Modern Family4.363.98617
2The Middle2.372.23616

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Actual Middle
4The Neighbors1.881.77618
5Last Man Standing1.721.42515
6Malibu Country1.481.24515

ABC's bubble comedies aren't just interesting because of renewal/cancellation questions. The real question for these shows is the future scheduling. Maybe Suburgatory and The Neighbors "deserve" renewal, but ABC certainly wants to avoid another Happy Endings/Apartment 23 situation where they're moved elsewhere and completely collapse. For now, I couldn't rule out one or both shows being moved to the 9/8c hour on Friday, reigniting the two-hour TGIF. Paul Lee may be particularly motivated if Last Man Standing and Malibu Country hold onto their higher-end results from last Friday in the closing weeks of their seasons.

Depending on what happens with Suburgatory in its move to 8:30 at season's end, ABC may opt to leave Suburgs in the 8:30 slot, but I'd rather have newbies on Wednesday than have to lead one out of a Suburgatory or a The Neighbors on another night.

One way to evaluate ABC's new TGIF is to compare it to the old TGIF. At some point (maybe not until April or so) I will put out some more A18-49+ numbers dating back to 2003-04, and there will be more fanfare around that at that point. For now, I just have very, very rough approximations. I get the sense that Last Man Standing (68) and Malibu Country (65) are stronger than TGIF in its last couple years with Hope and Faith and declining shows like George Lopez and 8 Simple Rules, but weaker than the first season of Hope and Faith in 2003-04 (which appears to have been in the mid-70s or so). How strong was TGIF in its truly thriving years? Was mid-70's the norm for TGIF anchors? Don't really have a sense of that. So this limited comparison doesn't help too much. ABC probably hoped for better than what TGIF was doing in the last couple years before ABC nuked the block completely.

What will help those shows, for comparison purposes, is Happy Endings totally bombing on the night. And that's almost certainly going to happen.

Overall, I'm pretty sure a bare minimum of two of these shows are coming back, quite possibly three, and maybe even all four. Even if my Friday adjustment isn't quite enough, I'm still fairly confident Malibu Country is at the back of the pack among these four.

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The... Probably Dunzo?
7Happy Endings1.301.22513
8Apartment 231.160.98411

While everyone's favorite bear has done some scheduling tea leaf reading on Happy Endings, I just want to urge you to keep in mind that for pretty much the whole fall he called the show a "toss-up" because of Sony/syndication even with very bad ratings. So if the show gets axed, it'll be worth re-evaluating some of that fundamental thinking. The idea that networks will consistently make huge reaches purely for syndication has pretty much proliferated, even though I tend to think it's based on a small and somewhat shaky sample. I'm not as laser-focused on renewals as the bear, but this may be something worth further discussion later on.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Elite
1Grey's Anatomy3.252.97616
3Once Upon a Time2.122.40515

During the fall Best Case/Worst Case season, there were a lot of shows that I thought had potential to take the "top 10:00 show on broadcast" label. Scandal was not one of them. In a raw numbers sense, it's unlikely to happen, because it's going to need a total meltdown from a The Voice-fueled Revolution. But in a "True" sense, I think we can all agree that this show's the king of that hour right now.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The... Probably Safe?

Let's skip the "Sunday numbers are deflated" discussion from past editions and just say that Once and Revenge should probably have another 0.2 True points or so. That puts Revenge into the Nashville/Castle range (that is, "probably safe") and Once is obviously still safe but increasingly disappointing.

So does ABC need to blow up their struggling Sunday? Unless they can pull of something like Dancing with the Stars on this night, I'm just not sure there's any good way to blow this thing up, since Sunday is an increasingly perilous night in general. Once Upon a Time and Revenge may not even be viable a year from now, but it's not like they're overflowing with alternatives. I'm guessing they'll have to roughly stay the course, but my two suggestions are: 1) move Revenge to 10/9c and put the new thing at 9:00; and 2) don't air them during event season!

Quick notes on the other two: Castle has suffered a bit in a True2 sense because 1) its lead-in is bigger (even if less compatible); and 2) Monday Night Football and Revolution are gone, so it gets much less competition credit. I think it will be OK nonetheless. Nashville had what looked like a very marginal point on February 27 but had been looking pretty much good to go prior to that point. I'm willing to shrug that one off, but it was not a good way to head into a long hiatus. Its return will be of interest.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Mostly Dunzo
7Private Practice1.401.18412
8Red Widow1.371.5011
9Body of Proof1.321.2012
10Last Resort1.251.12513
11Zero Hour1.101.0013
12666 Park Ave1.071.2339

The only show of this bunch that I wouldn't count out just yet is Body of Proof. It looked real bad when it premiered to a 1.2 after The Bachelor, but the 1.2 after The Taste in week two was actually a much less awful performance. I think you can now at least make the case that it's close enough that it could conceivably get bumped up to a bubble level if Dancing with the Stars does well. That may not sound like much, but it's a better place than where the network's other midseason dramas sit right now.

ABC UnscriptedTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
1The Bachelor2.732.80410
2Celebrity Wife Swap2.562.4011
3Shark Tank2.331.88618
4Dancing with the Stars Mon Fall1.892.2039
5Dancing with the Stars Tue Fall1.741.9038
7Primetime: What Would You Do?1.551.4525
8America's Funniest Home Videos1.441.54515
9The Taste1.441.5026
10Extreme Makeover: Home Edition1.191.1037

Something to watch here is the Celebrity Wife Swap performance on Thursday this spring. My problem with putting unscripted stuff in the Thursday 8/7c slot has always been that unscripted shows take an even larger-than-normal dip against Idol. But Idol is not really Idol anymore. We've already seen Shark Tank reruns hold up OK enough in the slot. And another new drama has gone into and quickly out of the hour. If Wife Swap can perform respectably (at least compared to its next couple Tuesday points, which will come back to earth from the 2.4 premiere), ABC should seriously consider the unscripted route here. And I'm not talking totally in the abstract: there are a few viable routes that could land a reality show here. Shark Tank here, clearing the way for a two-hour Friday comedy block? Maybe even Dancing with the Stars here, another possibility that could get it away from The Voice?


Spot said...

There are few things that mystify me about TV, but one of them is definitely how Suburgatory hasn't done better after Modern Family. I don't get it--that seemed like an absolute perfect pairing.

If ABC were in better shape, I would be a proponent of holding DWTS until spring. But it would be incredibly hard for them to fill those three hours, along with all the usual spots that need help. I wouldn't be surprised if ABC just left it alone for another year.

Spot said...

Scandal's strong showing this season makes me think that ABC's going to move it to Sundays or Tuesdays next season. While the network finally found a show that's grown after Grey's Anatomy, there's too many patches that need help. A pairing with Revenge (bumped down to 10 PM) sounds like a natural, or If S.H.I.E.L.D.isn't the centerpiece of Tuesday night, I think Scandal could fit well there.

As for the sitcoms, I do think Malibu Country's in the most danger. In my fantasy scheduler's head for '13-'14, it would not make the cut. And as I've always thought, Happy Endings' renewal prospects hinge more on Sony finding a cable network (Comedy Central perhaps) picking it up.

Spot said...

I love these, so glad they are back!

My rankings:


1. Modern Family: 2,27

2. The Middle: 1,23

3.Suburgatory: 0,99

4. Last Man Standing: 0,90

5. The Neighbours: 0,74
6. Happy Endings: 0,73
7. Malibu Country: 0,70

8. Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23: 0,42

We actually don't have much differences, except that I think LMS is a much stronger candidate for renewal than you seem to think. I really don't think ABC is letting it go. The other difference is Happy Endings, which I am still not ready to write off that easily. The thing is that it is no technically one season away from syndication and that is what makes it tricky. If it was, I would be predicting its certain renewal. The fact that it is two seasons away is probably its doom, but it still has some sort of shot (I say it is right in the same boat as MC and TN).

Drama Wise:

1. Grey's Anatomy: 1.78

2. Once Upon a Time: 1.43

3. Scandal: 1.31

4. Castle: 1.25

5. Revenge: 1.07

6. Nashville 0.94

7. Red Widow: 0.78

8. Private Practice: 0.77

9. Body of Proof: 0.76

10. 666 Park Avenue: 0.69

11. Last Resort: 0.58

12. Zero Hour: 0.53

Basically, we are in agreement in everything here I would say. I have been arguing for months now that a move of DWTS to Sundays away from the voice would be the perfect solution for most of ABC's problems. Its bleeding should slow down considerably and its two cycles are the perfect solution for the awards show season. Cheap reality in the veins of the taste and wife swap can fill in for the awards season. The results show can be mondays at 8, followed by revenge and castle. The Bachelor can still take over the results show and revenge, which should benefit from split seasons types of runs (OuAT should also have them on Sunday). I really think this is the biggest no-brainer move of the season (yes, even ore than the comedy expansion of CBS), but unfortunately, there is so little chance of it happening, it is ridiculous, but I am bound to be furious at the upfronts.

Spot said...

For the record, this would be my fantasy schedule for next year:

Sunday (Fall & Spring / Winter):
Once Upon a Time/ Winter Wipeout

Dancing with the Stars/ Celebrity Wife Swap

Dancing with the Stars/ The Taste

Monday (Fall & Spring/ Winter)
DWTS: Results/ The Bachelor
Revenge/ The Bachelor
Castle (24 eps)

Shark Tank

The Middle
Modern Family
New Comedy
Nashville [13 eps season a la Scandal to see if it grows, if not replace it at midseason]

Grey's Anatomy
New Female Skewing Drama

Last Man Standing
Malibu Country
How to Live with Your Parents
The Neighbours

Spot said...

I could live with that. I'm torn between Th@8 and Tu@8 for Shark Tank.

Spot said...

Yeah, I played around with that too, but that what would you put at Tu@8? They need a new female skewing drama, and launching it at tuesday at 8 doesn't fit with the rest of the night at all. The post Grey's/Scandal timeslot is the best one to launch it IMO.

Spot said...

I thought that Spy was an hour long. Figured the father-son angle would work at that time. Just looking at Deadline, though, they are committed to the female focus, so it's not like you can drop anything else there.

Spot said...

I agree with this. Suburgatory's complete inability to take off after Modern Family is one of the greatest unexplained mysteries of the recent tv seasons to me.

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