Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ABC True Power Rankings, May 2013

It's time for this season's final 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 excluding some inflationary season/series finales that aren't that relevant). The number of episodes in the average is listed under "Counted Eps." These numbers are all through April 28.

The best way to describe the two-week upfront preview is that these Power Rankings are the "SHOW-centric" portion. The Power Rankings are largely about discussing the merits of renewing and/or moving marginal and just-above-marginal shows. Next week's Upfront Questions will be more the SCHEDULE-centric portion. These things do overlap sometimes, but that's a general guideline.

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

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Elite
1Modern Family4.203.80720
2The Middle2.352.06719

About as boringly solid as it gets. Can't see either show getting moved.

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Actual Middle
3Last Man Standing1.831.45618
5The Neighbors1.821.63822
6How to Live1.791.7524
7Malibu Country1.511.25618

On the other hand, there's this crowd.

Start with Last Man Standing and Suburgatory, which feel the safest of the five. Last Man is tied atop the group and it has the "bird in the hand" advantage; all these shows are under consideration for a Friday lineup, and we know this show does OK on Friday. Suburgatory returning to 8:30 and doing reasonably well is something of a "bird in the hand" advantage as well. It could be a reliable player there while the net focuses on 9:30, or it might be the best option to anchor a second Friday hour. Can't see it not occupying one of those roles.

Less certain are the three newbies. The only one still airing episodes is How to Live, but that hasn't turned out to be a good thing as it's dropped at least four tenths in each post-premiere episode. That streak figures to end tonight when it gets an original Modern Family lead-in back, but how significant will the bounce-back be? If it gets well into the low-2's, it's definitely safe and may even be a contender to return to the 9:30 slot. If it gets back to a 1.9 to 2.0, I would likely still renew it as it's still pretty much on the Suburgatory pace, but scheduling it becomes much cloudier. If it only gets to a 1.8? Or lower?! It may be legit trouble time. Will ABC just give it a pass anyway and chalk up the late-season ratings to "bad scheduling"?

It seems the late-season Suburgatory numbers and the relative promise of How to Live have cast legit doubt on the future of The Neighbors, with the perception being that How to Live may squeeze it out of the last spot. It's possible, but I would still renew this show, and I don't even think it's that close. 1.4 -> 1.4 -> 1.5 after DST looks pretty ugly, but the first two were sandwiched between repeats and the last one was on an oddly low-viewed pre-Easter Wednesday. (The Middle was also 10% weaker than normal on that night.) I could certainly see it getting squeezed out if ABC has just three comedy hours, but if there's a fourth, particularly another on Friday, The Neighbors deserves to be a part of it.

Then there's Malibu Country, which I still feel is a genuine "bubble comedy," whereas its finale ratings seem to have swayed many in a more optimistic direction. I can certainly see the argument: "The Neighbors' finale got a 1.5 while Malibu's got a 1.4 on a Friday!" However, that's just one data point, and when you really get down to it I actually think The Neighbors' slot was at least as tough. Malibu spiked to a 1.4, well above its 1.2ish level for most of 2013, facing nothing scripted and sub-1 ratings on every competing network. The Neighbors had Survivor, Idol and an odd pre-Easter viewing depression. We don't talk about "competition" much when looking at Friday shows (and indeed, the viewing depression is much more important), but the Friday 8:00 hour has not had much, especially on that finale night, and I think that closes a lot of the typical "Friday factor" gap.

...with all that being said, I would still renew it and add a second comedy hour on Friday. I'd actually renew this whole club barring a terrible next couple weeks from How to Live, but Malibu would be my "last" renewal.

ABC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Probably Dunzo?
8Happy Endings1.180.79721
9Apartment 231.160.98411

There's been lots of excuse-making and conspiracy-theorizing with respect to the Happy Endings Friday numbers. Some have said that one must throw out last week's awful numbers because of program guide confusion in the wake of the news coverage pre-emptions from the week before. Realistically, though, the dissection of ratings at this point is not important. There is not a ratings argument. Like Cougar Town last year, an ABC return has to be about something other than ratings.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Elite
1Grey's Anatomy3.222.84721
4Once Upon a Time2.002.21720

Welcome back to the top tier, Castle. I thought in the fall that the show's True2 score may have been somewhat overcounted, but with the return of compatible-yet-weak Dancing with the Stars it's gotten back into that low-2's vicinity again. The last two ABC Upfront Questions on Monday have revolved around Castle, but it now seems Castle's fate is less about Castle's merits in some other slot and more about what in the world ABC decides to do with the crumbling Dancing with the Stars.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
Three More Renewals?!
7Body of Proof1.511.45410

Nashville and Revenge should be probably pretty much safe for next season. Revenge should arguably be at least two tenths higher in the True2 average, which puts it pretty close to where Nashville is. I like Revenge to move back to 10/9c. The rest kind of depends on the Dancing with the Stars scheduling.

The one that's gotten a little interesting is Body of Proof. After week two of this season, even though it was getting 1.2's, I advised not to totally count it out. Indeed, it has picked up steam. Has it picked up enough steam? Many think so, but now I'm on the other side of the argument. I certainly don't think its recent typical 1.4 level is enough for a renewal, given its most-compatible-possible lead-in has been north of 2.0 and its competition has been as light as you could possibly ask for.

The 1.6 it posted last week was a step in the right direction. If it can stay there or rise next week, its only remaining point before the decision has to get made, I could be convinced it's a legit bubble show. For now, I'm not seeing it. The show's calling card has always been that it's a decent retainer of DWTS and essentially unusable in other situations, but DWTS has been ground down enough that a decent retainer of DWTS with no real scheduling flexibility isn't really noteworthy anymore. I'd rather see what a marginal show with some semblance of upside, like a Nashville, could do in a post-DWTS slot. So Body of Proof would be my last ABC cancellation, and I think I would still cancel it even if it gets another 1.6. But it sounds like it could easily go the other way, and it kind of depends on how many backups they want. My main point is I'd bring back all the bubble comedies first.

ABC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Dunzo
8Private Practice1.401.18412
9Last Resort1.251.12513
10Zero Hour1.101.0013
11666 Park Ave1.071.2339
12Red Widow0.900.8526

ABC UnscriptedTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
1The Bachelor2.903.03412
2Shark Tank2.471.91822
3Dancing with the Stars Mon Spring2.252.1526
4Dancing with the Stars Tue Spring2.222.1025
5Dancing with the Stars Mon Fall1.892.2039
6Celebrity Wife Swap1.841.6013
8Dancing with the Stars Tue Fall1.741.9038
9Wife Swap1.661.3026
10Primetime: What Would You Do?1.551.4525
11America's Funniest Home Videos1.441.51719
12The Taste1.281.2738
14Extreme Makeover: Home Edition1.191.1037
15Bet On Your Baby0.810.6024

The most important question of the ABC upfront by a pretty long shot will be, "What's the deal with Dancing with the Stars?" I'm going to save a big scenario breakdown for next week's Upfront Questions post, but for now suffice to say they could stand pat (I think it'd be a mistake but sadly I can't put it past 'em), they could move it to winter-only (or winter/summer), or they could move it to essentially any combination of nights that doesn't involve Wednesday or Saturday. Can't really start making an ABC schedule till we know that part.

Meanwhile, Shark Tank is another one of those shows kinda like Castle where people debate its "merits" in another timeslot, but at this point I think its scheduling fate is much less about its own merits and more about external factors. Namely, it's more about the merits of a second comedy hour on Friday. Unless there's another very coherent plan for Friday, like another comedy hour, I'd probably leave Shark Tank alone there. But I think ABC has enough renew-worthy comedies that they should expand. So, where to for Shark Tank? Thursday 8/7c is a possibility, but my personal favorite ABC Tuesday schedule involves Shark Tank and a block of two new dramas (the first being S.H.I.E.L.D or whatever it's called right now). The most intuitive lineup of those shows might feel like Shark Tank/SHIELD/other newbie, though I wouldn't totally rule out a 10/9c placement for Shark Tank.


Spot said...

If Paul Lee's comment about bringing back TGIF was serious, then he's at least already got the shows to choose from in "The Actual Middle." Malibu Country feels like the reach renewal, but I wouldn't be surprised either way.

I'm almost curious what Body of Proof would do paired with Castle; after all CBS' schedule is mostly paired procedural dramas. But to do that would mean shifting Castle up an hour (and possibly changing days) which doesn't look likely. Other than being matched up with Dancing with the Stars again, I think that's BoP's only chance in seeing a fourth season.

Spot said...

Would you see a renewal of LMS as a 2 year renewal?

Spot said...

I would.

Spot said...

So glad
these are back. I will split my comments in various so that this becomes
easier. My personal rankings for ABC comedy:

Modern Family: 2.43

The Middle: 1.28

Last Man Standing: 0.96

Suburgatory: 0.88

How to Live with Your Parents: 0.74

Malibu Country: 0.72

The Neighbors: 0.69

Happy Endings: 0.64

Apartment 23: 0.47

So, it
appears from here, that we are pretty much in agreement with all the positions,
except for the neigbors. You did make some compelling points in terms of why
the neighbors last numbers are not as meaningful as one might think, and that
is fair enough, but your main argument for its renewal is a Friday move. Well,
I have some considerations in those regards. If ABC will look at only 1 hour of
Friday sitcoms, then I say that MC is the best candidate and not the TN. It is
the bird on one hand argument that you have made for LMS, even though that one
really doesn’t need it. I will also add the following: LMS lost 37% of its
audience this year when moved to Friday. Accounting for the yearly declines, that
is about 28% in real terms, and that is coming off a situation on Tuesday that
is not nearly as comfortable as TN had on Wednesdays this year (even accounting
for the last weeks when it was sandwiched between reruns). Still, let’s say TN
has the same 28% decline when moving to Fridays. It would average a 1.34 and
you have MC currently there already averaging a 1.22. Considering these are all
aproximations, one tenth of a difference really isn’t meaningful: my point?
They would be about the same, assuming a best case scenario for TN in which it
is actually capable of holding a Friday’s audience and in which it is
compatible with LMS. But why would ABC risk that? The upside is getting to
basically where they are now with MC, so why bear the extra risk? I think it
would be a very stupid move personally. In my opinion, TN only has a shot at
coming back if ABC decides to run a 2 hour TGIF block (in which case I assume
MC to be a certain renewal), but even that is not crystal clear as they may try
out a new show + Suburgatory for instance, which would allow them to premiere 2
new comedies (1 Wed, 1 Friday), while keeping Parents in the post MF slot and
simply canning TN. Bottom line: I think there are too many variables to predict
scheduling moves here. Personally, I would premiere the 2 highest testing new
comedies Tuesdays at 8, I would can TN, I would leave Wednesdays as being
TM/Sub/MF/Parents all season [no new shows airing amidst repeats things, just
order 24 for all 4] and LMS/MC on Fridays for the sake of stability. If they do
need Shark Tank elsewhere, then I would greenlight another comedy for Fridays
at 9 and plug in TN at 9h30 but that is the only instance in which I would
renew it. Whatever happens, ABC comedies renewals and scheduling certainly are
one of the most interesting parts of the upfronts this year.

One last
remark: I don’t have HE quite as dead as you are, but that is basically because
my model doesn’t differentiate where do the shows go if renewed (i.e. I had
Cougar Town as renewed last year, even if the renewal is not for ABC). So the
chance that is does have under my model is not on ABC, but elsewhere (USA?).

Spot said...

As for dramas:

My personal ranking:

1. Grey's Anatomy: 1.77
2. Scandal: 1.46
3. Once Upon a Time: 1.37
4. Castle: 1.31
5. Revenge: 1.07
6. Nashville: 0.94
7. Body of Proof: 0.92
8. Private Practice: 0.81
9. 666 Park Avenue: 0.72
10. Last Resort: 0.61
11. Zero Hour: 0.56

The dramas
situation isn’t nearly as interesting as the comedies. The 5 shows above 1 are all but assured a spot in the fall schedule, even if I firmly believe that Sunday is not the place for serialized dramas OUAT and Revenge anymore. Nashville is also pretty safe at this point, although that says more about ABC’ woes than about its performance.

Then there is BoP, which I basically have tied with Nashville now. I think the show will be renewed. I had it on the bubble since it came back but I am strongly leaning towards renewal. However, whether or not it gets a place on the fall schedule, totally depends on what happens with DWTS. I will get to that later, but in an ideal world, DWTS is triggered down to 2 hours a week and moved to Sundays where it is perfect counterprogramming against all the male skewing stuff that is going on
elsewhere (TWD, Fox Cartoons, Football). In that case, I think Body of Proof is the perfect show to plug in on the 10pm hour to follow it since it will be a proven good retainer of its audience and help stabilize an hour in which ABC cannot expect much from any other new show. If they don’t do something like this to DWTS, then probably Body of Proof is better utilized being kept as
midseason show. Regardless, I say it will be back.

Spot said...

What do your #s mean? Is it saying that Apt. 23 (if not already canceled) would have a 47% chance? How can it be above 1? Or, if they are ratings, all of them look like TV ratings for 2025.

Spot said...

Hey. This is just my home made index (meaning they are no official numbers or anything). It takes into account the show's ratings (Weighted in such a way that more recent episodes have a higher weight), the stability of those ratings, the number of episodes produced and the proximity to syndication. Basically, all factors that people tend to use when describing a show's renewal or cancellation chances (besides ratings), but that are typically not quantified - I actually quantify them. You can think of it in terms of: higher than 1 is a certain renewal, somewhere between 0.85-1 is a likely renewal, 0.75-0.85 is bubble territory and anything lower than 0.75 is cancelation (this changes a bit depending on the network we are looking at, etc though, this is just a general idea)

Spot said...

OK. Thank you!

Spot said...

Finally, my ideal schedule for next year:

- I agree with you that it is 100% dependent on what happens to DWTS. As I have explained above, I think it belongs on Sundays now as counter programming against the male skewing stuff that is going on in there and also because its two cycles a year is the perfect way to work around awards season. Also, the show badly needs to be moved away from the voice, as the ratings are showing every day. I would also cancel the results show.

- I think Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays (with the exception of Castle) need to be 100% revamped. This would involve a lot of moves so, for the sake of stability, I wouldn't touch Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays, apart from plugging a new show Thursdays at 8. This being said, I also like the idea of Shark Tank on Tuesday with Shield and something like OUAT or Big Thunder.

Once Upon a Time

New Comedy
New Comedy
Big Thunder

The Middle
Modern Family
How to Live with Your Parents
Nashville [13 eps order only to see if it grows, if not, can it come midseason]

Doubt or Murder in Manhattan
Grey’s Anatomy

Last Man Standing
Malibu Country
Shark Tank

DWTS/ Winter Wipeout/ DWTS
DWTS/ The Taste/ DWTS
Body of Proof
But, as I've said, this would require too much moves and we have to compromise.

Spot said...

Probably. I don't fully buy into the syndication dogma in many cases, but I think in this environment, if you have one of the rare shows in the best syndication genre (multi-cam sitcom) with three full seasons, you have to play out the string.

Spot said...

Full disclosure first. Don't like: LMS, Tim Allen, Malibu Country. Like: Reba. Hate: Lilly Tomlin.

I believe Malibu Country and (especially) Last Man Standing are having more "bird in the hand" advantage than people are assuming. I base it on how Happy Endings ratings crumbled when show was moved to Friday. ABC brass probably will go along this line of thinking "what if we move some of those weekday bubble comedies to Friday and then their ratings collapse too?". I'm not saying Suburgatory or Neighbors or How To Live ratings would be cut in half on Friday. I'm merely saying ABC execs might be afraid of it. A bit too much afraid, perhaps ... but it's all about perception, isn't it?

So I'll stick my neck out and say LMS and Malibu Country are safe, HTLWYPFTROYL dead, Suburgatory probably safe too, while The Neighbors are depending on how pilot season goes.

Spot said...

Thanks! Soooo much to respond to! ;-)

1. I think the most important thing I have to say is that I do not actually think it is Neighbors vs. Malibu for the Friday 8:30 slot. It sounds like Malibu is competing almost directly with the John Leguizamo pilot KING JOHN whether they expand or don't expand. Though I would consider keeping MC as a backup to King John, personally. I would put the Neighbors on Friday at 9:30 (with either Suburgs/How to Live or MAYBE a new show at 9).

2. I don't think Neighbors would drop quite as much as LMS because it didn't drop nearly as much over the course of season 1. LMS was at 2.7 as late as December and fell as far as 1.5; Neighbors was at 1.9 in its timeslot debut and never went lower than 1.4. So LMS' average was more inflated relative to what it REALLY was at the end of season one than Neighbors'.

3. As I said in the post, I think Neighbors could very well get squeezed out (and it wouldn't be that bad a decision) if they hold at three hours. But at this point I wouldn't do three hours unless there's either 1) an AWFUL next two weeks from How to Live or 2) AWFUL development. I think the three-hour sked would be Middle/Suburgs/Modern/(new) and LMS/(Malibu OR King John), with How to Live and Neighbors fighting for a midseason backup berth.

4. If it saves you any time you might want to hold off on the "ideal schedule" part till next week, since those posts are more schedule-focused.

with Neighbors/How to Live fighting for a midseason berth.LMS

Spot said...

"they could move it to essentially any combination of nights that doesn't involve Wednesday or Saturday."

Uh-uh. There's 2 days you missed – Fridays and Sundays (yes omabin, your schedule wouldn't work). The reason behind this is that the British version ("Swiftly Come Dancing" or something like that) airs on Saturday/Sunday. All three judges (and I'm betting many of the producers) work on both series. It would be a nightmare to have them on the same night. Almost impossible! And making the judges and producers choose would be disastrous. Which one do you think they'd choose – the megahit from where they live and worked originally, or the failing show from the States? They really don't need to be replaced, as they're one of the few things about the show that still works. Friday/Saturday, Saturday/Sunday, and Sunday/Monday wouldn't work at all. Period.

Personally, I'd go with Thursday/Friday, sending Grey's and Last Man Standing to Tuesday.

Spot said...

They wouldn't even need to move Grey's--just cut the DWTS performance show down to an hour. If necessary, they can have a two-hour premiere and bump Grey's/Scandal back a week.

I admit that I haven't seen DWTS in a few years, but it always seemed super padded to me; I doubt there was more than a half hour of actual dancing/judging in the whole thing. And when it got down to only four or five dancers? Agonizing.

American Idol used to do just fine with a one-hour performance show, and who knows? That (in partnership with its once-a-year scheduling) might have prevented it from burning out sooner than it did. A one-hour DWTS on Thursdays may be a nice fix for a troubled timeslot.

Spot said...

I have read this before but never really checked up on it. When does it run on the calendar? Could they do a Sunday/Monday DWTS during the British show's off-season?

Spot said...

I have checked the calendar and apparently, Nick is indeed partially right. During fall, the UK version is taking place Saturdays and Sundays. However, there is no spring or winter edition of the show. Therefore, my proposal for ABC would be: The Bachelor on Sundays during fall and DWTS on Sundays during Spring. Awards-bound Winter should consist of reality fillers in the veins of the taste and winter wipeout. What do you think? I think it is far more feasible than changing the day of Grey's Anatomy and LMS, especially because you are messing with timeslots that are actually working without solving timeslots that are not (Sundays) - that is the main issue I have with your schedule. You change it all to fit the DWTS move but in doing so, you change ABC's good hours and do not change their other problematic hours apart from the DWTS hours. Also, I am of the opinion that DWTS wouldn't do that hot against CBS Thursdays and Idol either on Thursdays.

Spot said...

Although I like the sounds of it, I doubt DWTS would perform well in the Thursdays at 8 timeslot because it would be facing Idol and Big Bang, and also because its ratings typically go up in the 9pm hour, so we would be looking at an even lower number.

Spot said...

I agree a lot with this. I think the bird in one hand is a much more powerful argument in this case than people are giving it credit for. However, I disagree with Parents being dead as I think that if its ratings tonight are decent, ABC will give it the post MF slot next season

Spot said...

Wow, thanks for the detailed response!

1. I agree with you on this and that is actual the feel I have. I think it is between MC and the King John Pilot too. I had gotten the sense from your post that you viewed it as TN vs. MC thing, but guess we are in the same line of thinking.

2. Ok, maybe you've got a point in there.If we do use weighted average of more recent episodes, than the drop is just in the 7% vicinity (excluding normal year to year declines), which means we would be looking at fairly good numbers for TN (1.6/1.7). Still, I am not sure I would go for this given the bird in one hand thing. But as discussed in 1), this really isn't the issue, we both agree on it.

3. I wouldn't do three hours either but I think we differ in terms of where the third hour should be. For me, the idea that ABC will actually not premiere any new comedy in a weekday is not reasonable. Assuming they keep TM, Sub, MF and Parents on weekdays, this means that they need the Tuesday hour to either premiere new comedies or move a combination of a current Wednesday comedy and a new comedy (while premiering the other on Wednesdays). I suppose they could save Sub for midseason or send it to Fridays (Parents is way too young to survive this move IMO) but I dislike the idea as I don't see it as being too strong and, especially, because I don't think its audience is that much in line with Friday audience and with the multicams they have in there. So, at the end of the day, the question is sort of: do they go with the 4th comedy hour on Friday and move Shark Tank midweek or do they go with the 4th comedy hour on Tuesday and leave Shark Tank on Fridays alone?

Spot said...

I wouldn't hate the idea of Castle moving up an hour (in fact, there are very few places I would mind them moving Castle), but it is doing way too well for them in the very difficult Mondays at 10 spot for them to move it IMO. Especially with DWTS itself needing a move, I think the wise thing is to keep Castle put for the sake of stability.

Spot said...

I agree with omabin. I really don't think that would work, especially since it would be right up against Idol. Also, yes it would be a stretch to fit all the dances in in the beginning of the season. I don't think that's the solution.

Spot said...

I just wrote a real long comment and boom! it went a away. :( Short Summary:I think the best place for DWTS is Thursdays. Idol is weak, X Factor is weaker, and I think people will opt for a performance show over a results show. As for LMS & Grey's, while they are doing fine, I would move them for DWTS because they're known utility players that are desperately needed in the abomination that is ABC Tuesdays.I don't think Sundays are as broken as you think, and don't really need that much help. For your schedule, I like it, but Primetime: What Would You Do? should be in the place of The Taste. Did I miss anything?

Spot said...

I did the math, and 2025 is actually too far away for ratings like these. We should be approaching those numbers in 2018!! Scary, huh?

Spot said...

Agreed about Primetime on Sundays for filler (I hadn't given it too much thought to be honest, I just put there the reality filler that came to my mind).

In regards to DWTS, I still disagree. Even if DWTS is able to climb back to high 2s (ignoring year to year declines) on Thursdays, which I think it is not likely given the competition, chances are that Grey's Anatomy would have lower ratings on Tuesdays than it currently has on Thursdays. I basically disagree with your notion that Grey's is a utility player - IMO, it is an anchor show, not utility player, so I disagree with it being moved around like that. Also, I am not sure how realistic it is to expect LMS to increase its ratings all of the sudden if moved from Fridays after one year, especially since it wasn't doing so hot on Tuesdays at the end of last year either. I also have to say that Sunday's competition is much more suited for the female friendly reality franchises (FOX Cartoons, TWD, the weak Good Wife, Football) than Thursday's (Idol, a weak Glee that will still eat away your 18-34 crowd, Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest which will no doubt take a big bite of your 25-54 crowd).

Most of all though, I disagree with your notion that Sundays aren't as broken as I think they are. For me, ABC Sundays have been one of the biggest let downs of the whole season and I clearly think Sundays is not fit for serialized dramas anymore - too much events, too much competition from cable. Say what you may about quality but it is not normal that both OUAT and Revenge have settled at levels that are almost half of their premiere numbers. Not to mention that new shows that are thrown there haven't even been sampled to begin with (excluding Pan Am which was following DH's final season premiere).

So overall we will have to agree to disagree, because in my mind, I don't see the point of bearing extra risk (by moving stuff that is actually working) for something that may, potentially work or not. In my schedule, I mostly move stuff that is actually not working at the moment, so the downside is not big.

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