Thursday, March 7, 2013

NBC 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

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The NBC Thursday Old Guard
1The Office2.242.03616
2Parks and Recreation1.861.60515
330 Rock1.451.33411

Even with the recent adjustment to remove hugely inflated finales, 30 Rock's above average run leading up to the end still makes it look like the #3 NBC comedy. That's... not good.

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
4Up All Night1.371.10411
5Go On1.351.33616
7Guys with Kids1.341.12617
9The New Normal1.301.15617

I have to admit I'm rather surprised at the confidence with which some people rule on some of the shows out of this mess. TVBTN is sure that Guys with Kids and The New Normal are totally dead and that Community and Whitney and Gooooon have a chance. I have trouble believing that the less than one-tenth difference among these shows amounts to a two smiley face difference, especially since Go On and Whitney (with local programming) likely have better lead-ins.

I maintain that they could still do almost anything. If they go heavy multi-cam or if they really want to butter up Jimmy Fallon? I wouldn't rule out Guys with Kids! If they really want to be in business with Ryan Murphy? I don't think The New Normal is much of a reach, at least not compared to the rest of this gang.

However, two observations. The first: I do believe Go On probably still has the edge out of this crowd. It ain't on merit. If anything, being in the same ratings vicinity after having a The Voice lead-in for that long makes it worse. It's about PR. A cancellation of Go On is an admission that the post-Olympics launch was totally useless and that a large part of the "NBC is back" fall narrative was a total fraud. Now, those things are true. But if you cancel Go On, there's really nowhere to hide. I can't see Go On dying unless it becomes significantly weaker than the rest of the "bubble," and while you can say a lot of things about Go On, you can't say that.

Second observation: NBC doesn't truly need these shows. As I said a few weeks ago, don't judge NBC based on a schedule being entirely propped up by two shows, but also don't judge NBC based on a schedule with five of their top shows not airing. NBC can put together a fall schedule without an exorbitant amount of new product and without many (or really even any) of these shows. Also keep in mind that a large chunk of this hellish between-Voice period won't be a problem next year thanks to the Winter Olympics.

It reminds me a bit of the Fox drama bubble in 2011; a bunch of shows were converging at a certain level and we thought that must mean "it's the bubble" and half those shows would survive. But the reality was that level was awful. Only Fringe survived, while The Chicago Code, Lie to Me and Human Target all got the axe. This situation is similar. It's a lot of shows, and it's not a totally egregious level, I guess, but it's still quite bad. The carnage could (and should) be severe.

Point is: they could get by with a face-saving Go On renewal and nothing else. But I'm guessing there'll be at least one more. Right now, I would lean toward Community because it has such a significant 18-34 edge, but there are no easy answers here.

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Dunzo
101600 Penn1.161.0037
11Animal Practice1.121.1525

NBC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Fab Five
2Chicago Fire2.122.00617
4Law and Order: SVU1.931.58515

NBC's drama fab five have gone utterly unchallenged by the midseason offerings. If NBC had any hope that they could consider ditching Law and Order: SVU for something newer and less expensive, I believe that hope is pretty well dashed at this point. Its 1.6ish raw demo does not look great, but it is beloved by True2 because it's in a rare slot where all three competing networks are airing hit programs! (Plus it's a good CW hour too.)

I'll talk more about scheduling after we see how Grimm and Revolution return, but I would strongly consider Law and Order: SVU for the troubled Thursday 10/9c slot. Its encores as a quick fill-in for Do No Harm actually did better there than they generally have on Wednesday.

NBC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Midseason Launch!
8Do No Harm0.910.7012

I'm not as fascinated by failure as most TV pundits, because once a show is clearly not going to make it, I just don't find its week-to-week ratings to be worth much mention. But the Smash Watch is kind of hard to look away from, because it's a collision between truly horrifying ratings and a great deal of hype, PR, pedigree and expectation. It's hard to deny that Smash should be pushed off the schedule right now, but this is a much more complicated situation than Do No Harm. If Tuesday's 0.8 demo can convince NBC that Smash needs to go somewhere else and Hannibal needs to be on Tuesday, then let's do it. If not, I'm all for Smash dropping as far as it needs to drop.

NBC UnscriptedTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
1The Voice Mon3.504.00514
2The Voice Tue3.363.64515
3The Biggest Loser2.072.1039
4Celebrity Apprentice1.661.7011
5Take It All1.571.3026
6Dateline Fri1.541.29824
7Off Their Rockers1.431.33412
8Dateline Sun1.301.3013
9Rock Center1.271.04720

There's football, there's The Voice, there's Revolution and there's Chicago Fire. That's all that's separating The Biggest Loser from being the top True2 show on NBC. But I would not give it any more exposure than this. This Voice filler role is a good one for the show. And hey, if The Voice really struggles with the second-stringers or if there are future logistical problems with the two cycles a year, you could hold this and use it to fill that space after the Olympics.

Off Their Rockers has dropped a lot after a decent start, but I'm not counting it out yet, mostly because of its repeat value. It's become a common piece of short-term filler for the net. (And at this number, it's still ahead of all the "bubble" comedies.)


Spot said...

My numbers:

Comedies (The Big Fat Bubble of Broadcast Network):
1. The Office: 1.59
2. Parks and Recreation: 1.41
3. 30 Rock: 1.33 [I should have also a finale adjustment]

4. Community: 1.10
5. Whitney: 0.91
6. Go On: 0.87

7. Up All Night: 0.83
8. Guys with Kids: 0.77
9. Animal Practice: 0.75 [I have to start freezing dead shows somehow as it would be lower if it was still airing episodes]
10. The New Normal: 0.75 y

11. 1600 Penn: 0.68

Basically, a big fat mass, yes, but I agree with TVBTN here: I think the likelihood of Guys or New Normal coming back is substantially lower than Community, Whitney and Go On, which are the 3 strongest bubble comedies they have. But I also agree with you that they don't need any of these necessarily. I also think that Go On's renewal will rely a lot on PR even though according to my model it doesn't even need that (unless it is renewed over something like community)

1. Parenthood: 1.95
2. Revolution: 1.42
3. Grimm: 1.32
4. Chicago Fire: 1.101
5. Law and Order: SVU: 0.86

6. Deception: 0.59
7. Smash: 0.48
8. Do No Harm: 0.36

Chicago Fire, IMO, deserves way more credit than it should be getting. NBC would be wise to heavily repeat it during the summer, because it is probably their biggest hit coming out of this season, even though it started a bit as an underdog. It is a bit the hart of dixie of nbc. Other than that, nothing to comment

Spot said...

As for dream schedule, NBC really is a head-scraper. I change my mind about their ideal schedule very very often. Today, I would go with something like this:

The Voice
The Voice
New Drama (The Sixth Gun - High Concept Drama)

The Voice

New Drama (Their Best Procedural Pilot)

Chicago Fire (Should provide a solid anchoring for the night and it has no drama competition at all at this time, apart from Arrow. Idol will be even less strong next season)

Revolution (Contingent on it holding well during the hiatus)

Crossbones (Should be very compatible with Revolution)

Thursday (Honestly, at this point, they are better off going with an all new night and promote it as such, which is also easier. The 8h00 slot is just impossible though, so I would stick Go On in there)

Go On (Sacrificial Lamb)

New Comedy
New Comedy

New Comedy
Law and Order. SVU

FridayParks and Recreation

Grimm (Ideally this would be paired with Crossbones and Revolution on Wednesday, but the truth is that NBC doesn't have that much empty space on its schedule)

Spot said...

We have similar opinions. Go On feels safe because of all the promotion that was spent on it, and NBC will feel better about renewing it after The Voice starts boosting its ratings again. After that, though, the temptation for me would be to swing the axe wide and chop everything else unless the production studio can make it too cheap to not renew. And of the bubble shows, Sony's Community seems likeliest to have that happen since another 13 episodes would push it to near 100.

Law & Order: SVU looks to be renewed but moved somewhere else next season. Thursday at 10 feels right just because nothing new has worked here since ER left 4 seasons ago. But I wouldn't be surprised if Revolution (or, for a reach, Chicago Fire) went here if NBC wanted to say they are serious about trying to reclaim their prestige Thursday night drama slot; it'd be foolhardy but not shocking to me after the scheduling ideas we've seen this season.

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