Thursday, May 2, 2013

CBS 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

CBS ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Fab Five
1The Big Bang Theory6.015.33721
2Two and a Half Men3.333.67721
3How I Met Your Mother3.163.19720
42 Broke Girls2.923.19721
5Mike and Molly2.512.76719

I'll (briefly) revisit the "to expand or not to expand" question next week in Upfront Questions. Spoiler alert: I still have pretty much the same opinion, which is that it'll come down to development.

Just to spice it up a bit I'll visit this kind of interesting scenario I've seen floated: If CBS does not expand, could they hold Mike and Molly for midseason? In a True2 sense, it'd be a mistake, as I feel Mike and Molly is behind only three CBS dramas (and about on par with NCIS: LA, their fourth-strongest). But given that they have to stay at three in this little fantasy scenario, I could actually see it happening. If they have two new shows that they feel are solid bets to be bigger than Mike and Molly, and that's not impossible given some of the names in their comedy pilots, it might actually be a good call. Where would M&M end up if those shows actually succeed? That is a really good question.

CBS ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Red-Headed Stepchild
6Rules of Engagement2.012.05410

The usual Rules of Engagement narrative is: "It's the utility player that always finds a way to get renewed!" Last year, though, it was not "finding a way" unless you count "getting really good ratings." I thought it was stronger than pretty much the whole drama second tier! This year, it's a different beast. I've got it power-ranked only around the bottom of the drama second-tier. In other words, I would still say it's "worthy," but it's not nearly as cut and dry as last year. For a show that's generally been more renewal-worthy than people think, will it scrape by this time when it's not quite as renewal-worthy? Very doubtful, but... "it always finds a way to get renewed!" so stay tuned.

CBS ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Dunzo

CBS DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Elite
2Criminal Minds3.022.84719
3Person of Interest2.792.83720

We already talked, "Whither Mike and Molly if there's no expansion?" So let's talk, "Whither Person of Interest if there is one?" I believe there are only two realistic options: Thursday 10/9c or somewhere on Tuesday. It's too high-priority for Friday or Sunday, and I believe the Wednesday 8/7c slot is now tied up. (More on that later.)

The Thursday slot is where it was "tested" during CBS' experimental repeats week. The Person of Interest vs. Scandal duel in that slot would be interesting. If they still have a lot of belief in the show, NCIS/Person of Interest could have some real potential on drama-light Tuesday. Tuesday 10/9c is also possible. In case it's not clear yet, I don't have a strong opinion on this one.

CBS DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Second Tier
4NCIS: Los Angeles2.472.76721
7Hawaii Five-01.942.10720

All of these shows might move. Here is my take on the likelihood for each:

NCIS: Los Angeles: Clearly CBS hasn't had much confidence in this show historically, and the 1.3 repeat when leading off the night can't have instilled much more. If anything will ever get CBS to break up this pairing, it'd be another NCIS spin-off. But I'm not so sure that should/will even get picked up, since there seems to be a lot of negative reception around it. And even then I'm paranoid about CBS doing the dreaded NCIS/LA/Red lineup anyway. I think there's only a 45% chance it goes elsewhere.

Elementary: I've seen some suggestions that Elementary will get thrown into the Friday/Sunday fray. Not seeing it. The last show CBS put on Friday this early into a weeknight run without it being an effective burn-off was Close to Home. Maybe Elementary has been a disappointment, but it's still strong enough to warrant at least one more year in a good slot, especially since there are other, older candidates for the downgrade. Will that good slot be Thursday 10/9c? That answer is likely tied up in what happens with the Thursday comedies and Person of Interest. If no expansion, Elementary likely stays, and even if there is one, it could be PoI and not Elementary that's shipped off the night. So I'm putting this one at a 55% chance.

CSI: I get the sense that many consider this a virtual lock to stay put, because CBS will be making moves elsewhere and Wednesday is an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situation in general. Still, CSI has had a somewhat soft season, and I think it's the best-suited of these four to make a decent transition to Friday. And Criminal Minds is a pretty strong lead-in to keep using on a show in its second decade. While I would strongly consider it, I'm guessing CBS makes enough shake-ups elsewhere to choose Wednesday stability for one more year. 25% chance of a move.

Hawaii Five-0: The most underwhelming of these four shows is also almost certainly the most likely to move. It seems pretty clear to me that CBS has been eying this show for Friday; it aired a repeat there right after CBS reneged on the Golden Boy move to Friday, and it was slated for another one before everything got pre-empted by the Boston bombings coverage. CBS is likely to perform at least a bit of a shake-up on Monday, and Five-0 has been one of the night's worst offenders. 85% chance.

CBS DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Third Tier
8Blue Bloods1.851.39721
9CSI: NY1.751.48616
10The Mentalist1.611.56721
12The Good Wife1.381.58822

The funny thing about this group is that I actually think these shows are more attached to specific timeslots than dramas 3 through 7, which is usually not the case with marginal renewals. Blue Bloods is pretty much locked into Friday at 10, barring the outside possibility that it might go to 9:00 and "launch" something. (And it's not big enough for that, in my opinion.)

And I have the somewhat sad feeling that the early renewals for marginal-rated The Good Wife and The Mentalist mean CBS is planning on phoning in Sunday again with perhaps the exact same lineup. It's not a terrible decision in the face of overruns, primetime NFL and the steadily growing crowd of cable options, but it is still rather underwhelming on a network where the real estate is so precious. I could be wrong about this, but it's just the feel I got after seeing the quick Mentalist renewal.

CBS DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Dunzo
11Golden Boy1.461.43410
14Made in Jersey0.570.3738

I almost put Golden Boy in the third tier because it out-Trues The Good Wife, but then I remembered that is probably solely due to TGW's True score being too low because it's Sunday. Golden Boy is dunzo.

CBS UnscriptedTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
1Survivor Spring2.982.68411
2Survivor Fall2.622.66513
3Undercover Boss2.011.56514
4The Amazing Race Spring2.002.35410
5The Amazing Race Fall1.972.53410
660 Minutes1.601.86927
748 Hours1.290.97925
8The Job0.850.7012

The horrible spring premiere number from Survivor had many a CBS drama advocate looking at the Wednesday 8/7c slot and licking their chops. However, the show's great recovery has pretty much crushed that. I can still see some of the inherent juiciness, since there are no dramas in the slot right now, but I have my doubts that any of the second-tier dramas would sniff at Survivor's current numbers. Person of Interest might be interesting (another option if there's a comedy expansion), but there are enough other options that leaving Survivor alone is best. We'll have to table the "cutting it down to one cycle" discussion for another year.

Has Undercover Boss earned its way into one of the highly coveted fall timeslots? It's the kind of show that has "utility player" written all over it, and yet its ratings are more "second-tier staple" than "utility." I will say that I would much rather see Undercover Boss on the night than some doomed new show, but they have enough middling dramas that I wouldn't totally mind it bumped to midseason in favor of a veteran.


Spot said...

CBS needs to start the process of creating new sitcoms to find the new heir apparent to HIMYM. If Mom is picked up, then I can see Mike & Molly shifting to midseason since Chuck Lorre already has TBBT & 2.5 Men on the network.

We won't know until next week, but perhaps CBS sees the folly of scheduling new dramas on Fridays. With a second tier this deep, one of them seems certain to move, and I agree that it should be Hawaii Five-O. If that happens, I wouldn't discount Person of Interest moving to Mondays at 10:00. That move then gives CBS the option of the added comedy hour or their highest-testing drama for Thursdays at 9:00.

And negative chatter be damned, I see Red getting at least a midseason order; even the bad buzz didn't stop Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.

Spot said...

I guess my hope on Red was that CBS might have learned something from the Suspect Behavior situation, especially if they have several strong alternatives in the drama pickup race. But I agree, they probably won't be able to resist simply because of the first four letters in the title.

Spot said...

On to CBS Comedies, my numbers say:

1. The Big Bang Theory: 1.60
2. Mike and Molly: 1.46
3.Two and a Half Men: 0.99
4.How I Met Your Mother: 0.92
5.2 Broke Girls: 0.92
6.Rules of Engagement: 0.60

Ok, so basically what is there to say here:

- TBBT is a monster of epic proportions as it gets top honours even over MM which is eying its fourth season
- I say Rules is done. Last year I had it at a much much more favorable 0.93 (above Rob, at 0.78, and below 2 Broke Girls, at 1).
- I know that pilot season is often misleading but I will say this: I don't remember seeing such a strong development season on a particular front (i.e. comedy or drama) on any network as I am seeing this year on CBS Comedy. I mean, isolated, I can think of about 6 of their pilots that, in other years, would be sure things. Therefore, I refuse to believe that only 1 makes the fall schedule (that one will be Mom by the way). So, I say that the choice is between holding Mike and Molly to midseason or premiering a 4th comedy hour in the fall.

As for the scheduling, I think we have been looking at this sort of the wrong way. We've been assuming that if CBS expands its comedy hours it would be on Thursday, meaning POI would have to move. This is mostly to take advantage of the colossal TBBT lead-in. However, the extensive interest in single cams might suggest that they are planning to launch them on their own elsewhere. However, it is not clear to me where. I would actually like to see them trying on Sundays but I don't think they are going there either. So, my point is sort of a hard point to make because I don't have a viable option (I suppose Fridays are fair game, but I have my reservations). Nevertheless, just because I am not seeing it, doesn't mean it won't happen. So I think we are looking at 4 distinct set of options here:
1) CBS premieres only Mom in the fall, leaving NBC about to have a heart attack seeing the amount of incredible pilots that were just passed on. A second comedy is picked to premiere come mid-season, even though the where is not crystal clear to me.
2) CBS holds Mike and Molly to midseason, premieres 2 new comedies in the fall and picks yet a third comedy for midseason. Again, I have no idea where would Mike and Molly and the third comedy air if the two new comedies work.
3) CBS moves POI and does premiere the comedy block on Thursday that we have been discussing for 2 years now. 3 new comedies are launched in the fall and I would still expect at least one more to be picked for midseason in case one of them fails
4) CBS premieres Mom on the Monday block and launches a pair of single cas (almost for sure Crazy Ones and Super Clyde) elsewhere on the schedule (not Thursdays).

I think 1) is not likely to be honest, it seems too much of a stretch. I would go for 2) or 3) personally but somehow I have a feeling we shouldn't discount 4) just yet.

Spot said...

On to dramas:

1. Hawaii Five-0: 1.60
2. Blue Bloods: 1.54
3. NCIS: LA: 1.42
4. Person of Interest: 1.26
5. Criminal Minds: 1.24
6. NCIS: 1.23
7. Elementary: 0.98
8. CSI: 0.87
9. The Good Wife: 0.84
10. The Mentalist: 0.78
11. CSI: NY: 0.74
12. Golden Boy: 0.54
13. Vegas: 0.53
14. Made in Jersey: 0.42

Nothing stands out to me. My model pretty much agrees with CBS renewals and although a CSI: NY wouldn't be a stretch, it would definitely be a reach renewal and I don't think it will happen at all at this point, especially with such a limited about of space.

In terms of moves potential:
- Hawaii Five-0: I agree that it seems ripe to a move, but I have one argument that may prevent that move, which is the fact that if CBS does in fact decides to go for the route of holding MM to mid season, it would mean launching 2 new comedies on Monday (I don't think it is realistic to expect them to admit defeat and moving Men back to Mondays, it would be too awkward for them). If, on top of that, they still launch another show, I think it would be too much, because we would be talking about 2/3 of the night being new, which doesn't seem very CBS thing to do. Still, I agree the show is the most likely candidate to move and to Fridays, yes, although I think its audience would be a better fit to Sundays.
- NCIS: LA: I simply don't see this one moving unless it is to 10pm to give the spot to Red. However, as you, I am against Red, so I honestly hope they don't go down this route, as I think it would flop badly (even though they could simply move LA back an hour if that was the case)
- Elementary: I still insist this one belongs on Fridays or Sundays. There are two sides to this argument: 1)Yes, its ratings are good enough to warrant renewal and man, does CBS badly needs shows that have rating good enough to stabilize Sundays or Fridays! 2) Although good enough, its ratings do not merit a weekday spot on such a strong network. So, in my mind, sending it to Fridays or Sundays is not so much a dismerit to the show as in sending it to die, but a sending it in the hopes that it actually becomes a valuable player for them in there (they need a new blue bloods) - I think it is a much better strategy than trying yet a new show on one of these days.
- CSI: The only reason I see to move this show is if CM is somehow sent to a 10pm slot (I think CSI is completely lead-in dependent at this point, yesterday showed just that - it is lucky enough to have one of the most compatible lead-ins on TV, so your true scores somehow miss part of it IMO), which wouldn't totally shock me on an isolated context (it would do wonders for CBS in the tough Mondays at 10 spot for instance, or even Wednesdays at 10), but it would mean that CBS would have to love a new show to plug in Wednesdays at 9. Actually, a lineup of Person of Interest [Launch Show]/ Intelligence [New Show]/ Criminal Minds [Old Show] would fit just in your definition of a good lineup, right? Anyway, as I was saying, even though individually I could see it, it would involve too many moves for CBS, so I think CSI is staying put.

As for the remaining ones, I think at this point CBS Sundays = CBS Fridays, give or take a couple of tents (excluding reality). So unless CBS is serious about changing that, even though I would think that a show like H50 would fit better on Sundays and a show like TM would fit better on Fridays, I feel the marginal benefit is not worth the move, as it would be mostly rearranging chairs on the titanic. If CBS is serious about changing this, then I would be all for a lineup of TAR/Survivor/H50 on Sundays.

Spot said...

I agree that I think Red will be picked up when all is said and done but I think a midseason pickup is getting more likely than a fall pickup now, which is great IMO (it would actually be a better midseason option than typical CBS entries).

I have thought about POI to Mondays at 10pm but ultimately I agree with spot that the show is just too much of a big deal to be thrown at the 10pm wolves so soon. I would think that a POI move would involve a Wednesday lineup shake up, which, when all is said and done, is probably the biggest deal-breaker when it comes to the comedy expansion.

Spot said...

Finally, I don't actually have a final schedule on CBS because I get too confused with their possible moves and the decision of whether or not to expand comedy hours just weights too much. Anyway, the current schedule assumes no comedy expansion and assumes that Mike and Molly is held until midseason:

How I Met Your Mother
Friends with better Lives
2 Broke Girls
Beverly Hill Cops

Hawaii Five-0

Criminal Minds


The Big Bang Theory
Two and a Half Men
Person of Interest

The Good Wife
Blue Bloods

The Amazing Race
The Mentalist

[Before anyone bashes me for moving Elementary to friday but not 5-0, my reasoning is: 1)I think Elementary will do better on Friday than H50 and, most importantly, 2)I think POI is a better launching pad than NCIS-LA.] The Wednesday lineup is based on your suggestion of Hit-Show/New-Show/Old-Show.

Spot said...

A Wednesday shake-up seems less likely to happen in my eyes because of the cascading domino effect it would cause. I think we are a year too early in calling for a change in Survivor's scheduling, so it feels ok as is. Dislodging Criminal Minds feels as likely to happen as moving NCIS. That leaves the least disruptive move being CSI to Fridays and POI to Wednesdays at 10:00. In that case, CBS falls "victim" to concentrating its strongest dramas on one night. Assuming POI would drop an above-average 20% in a 10:00 pm Monday slot, which I consider unlikely, it would still beat Castle and Revolution (at its 2013 numbers).

Basically, my logic in moving POI is that CBS Television Studios doesn't produce it. If they did, I think the network would be more inclined to keep it as is to ensure a long first-run life to sell into the syndication afterworld. Not having a back-end piece makes me think CBS could act more dispassionately towards it if the network has a promising development slate; I think that's the reason it got a second go-around for Thursdays at 9:00 this year.

Spot said...

If I were CBS, I would go Mother/NEW/Girls/NEW on Monday and 2 1/2/NEW/BBT/NEW on Thursday, which is pretty close to what you suggested last year. I understand that development cycles vary and that the suicide of Friend Me's creator couldn't have been predicted, but following up one of the best years for comedies with one debut is inexcusable. Now all of their vets are another year older and a little bit weaker (except BBT, of course) and launching a newbie will be that much harder. And CBS needs something new, because as Chris L said, they are definitely going to lose Mother next year and probably 2 1/2 as well. That means that CBS might have only 2 or 3 anchor-worthy comedies by Fall 2014, which is where ABC is right now, and that's not a particularly good place because they are having trouble expanding their comedy reach.

On the drama side, I would probably do a lot of shuffling there as well. Some combination of H50, TGW and Mentalist should move to Fridays. It also appears that they are giving up on Sundays, so I would go with

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