Thursday, May 2, 2013

NBC 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

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The NBC Thursday Old Guard
1The Office2.241.90720
2Parks and Recreation1.891.53721
330 Rock1.451.33411

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
Le Sigh.
5Up All Night1.371.10411
6Guys with Kids1.341.12617
8Go On1.251.20721
9The New Normal1.151.13822

I made my opinion pretty clear on these second-tier shows last time: I don't think any of them really deserve to be renewed, but I don't drastically favor or discount any of them. I'd put them all at "likely cancellation," though I might bump Community or Go On up to "toss-up." As has become a yearly tradition, good old Community is worming its way up to the top of the bubble rankings.

It was encouraging to see in the latest Pilot Panic that NBC is considering being very liberal with the comedy axe. They claim it's because their pilots are amahhhh-zing, but who knows about that? They thought Go On, The New Normal and Animal Practice were their new comedy beachheads. More likely, they just realize what's pretty evident: it would be hard to do much worse than this crop with replacement new shows, and there's a lot more upside.

However, some more Fun With Deadline: I practically cringed at this article, where The New Normal was "looking hopeful after getting a boost from the return of The Voice." And even everyone's favorite bear followed suit: "With its recent ratings gains airing after The Voice, it's cancellation is not nearly as certain as 1600 Penn or Guys With Kids." Are you people KIDDING me with this? What in tarnation did you think was going to happen when you increased its lead-in by nearly four ratings points? Just can't imagine that the networks are actually stupid enough to operate like this.

If you want to go this route, be more honest about the thought process: "They like it, so they gave it a better lead-in, so its ratings artificially increased." The real takeaway is that they like it, not that the show actually got stronger. I actually think its late-season ratings probably upheld the notion that it's the weakest of the bubble shows. But it's still close enough that "they like it" could be the difference and it wouldn't be totally incomprehensible.

One other tidbit from the Deadline article: "There has been speculation that, like last year, NBC may opt to keep one multi-camera comedy for next season, with Guys [With Kids] having a slight edge." Who knows if that's actually true, but it wouldn't surprise me as much as it surprises some others. It's too early for syndication to be a huge consideration for either this or Whitney, there's effectively no ratings difference, and Jimmy Fallon politics may play a role.

NBC ComediesTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Dunzo
101600 Penn1.130.84513
11Animal Practice1.121.1525

NBC DramasTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
The Fab... Four, Plus Revolution
1Law and Order: SVU1.991.64719
3Chicago Fire1.961.81720

We played the Likelihood of a Move game with the second-tier CBS dramas. It's also worth playing with the first-tier NBC dramas, none of whom are quite strong enough to have real scheduling certainty:

Law and Order: SVU: With the recent collapse of Hannibal, I'm willing to re-heat my suggestion from March that NBC should sked this show in the long-troubled Thursday 10/9c hour. The first two hours of Thursday night are so utterly up in the air that I wouldn't want to compound the potential problem by putting an unknown quantity at the end of the night. And as I've said, the SVU repeats in the hour prior to Hannibal's premiere were doing as well as the normal Wednesday repeats, and sometimes even better. In terms of actual likelihood, I have to think there's a decent chance NBC keeps using it to take the hit in its very difficult Wednesday hour, perhaps protecting Chicago Fire in the first somewhat competent Wednesday lineup they've had in a long time. 45% chance of a move.

Chicago Fire: As I said right after the fab five renewal, I actually think Chicago Fire may be the most likely show to stay put. There's a contingent that really wants to see what this show could do consistently after The Voice, but I just don't think NBC is in a position to get too greedy with their known quantities right now. Can't totally discount the possibility, but this is a rare NBC show to get a pulse on Wednesday; I'd keep it there. 25% chance.

Grimm: So where is Grimm moving from in this game? We'll say its usual Friday 9/8c slot. It's after The Voice for the next month, but the only way I'd consider keeping it that way is if it shows breakout potential along the lines of House. Based on Tuesday's results, it doesn't look like that's happening. There are other non-Friday possibilities, namely the plagued Thursday 10/9c slot or somewhere on Wednesday. I've always secretly kind of fancied the idea of hammocking wild-card Revolution between two known properties on Wednesday (Grimm at 8 and ChiFi at 10), but recent developments are leaving me less sure. This feels like another one of those shows whose scheduling will be more about other shows' scheduling than its own merits. I'll just say 40% chance it leaves Friday. Shrug.

Parenthood: Armed with a 22-episode renewal, Parenthood should remain as a reliable Tuesday 10/9c player. I could see it going to Wednesday or Thursday, but I don't see a compelling reason to move it right now as it's not really a "launch-pad." 30% chance it moves.

Revolution: So here's the big wild card. Would Revolution hold up elsewhere? In the fall I thought the show was a success that went beyond "Voice lead-out," as seen in the extreme amount of DVR interest. I'm certainly much less sure of that position based on spring ratings. But I still think the show looks more likely to hold onto something reasonable in another slot than Smash was last year, if only because of the difference in subject matter. I questioned the compatibility of the two right after last year's upfront, after all.

Still, many have said NBC will regret giving Revolution 22 episodes a year from now, and it's pretty easy to see that possibility. I'm increasingly confident NBC really doesn't want to take the 22 eps and make a Happy Endings-style gamble, where the show is exposed as a fraud on day one and suddenly you have 21 more hours ahead. They could always trim the order, but I doubt they want to put themselves in that position. While I think a new show in the Monday slot would be better for the future of the network, keeping Revolution on Monday would probably be better for the "not having to light tens of millions of dollars on fire." That matters. I'm giving it a 50% chance to move, but a large portion of that 50% involves a move to the other post-Voice slot on Tuesday.

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

The Hannibal run has been very swingy. I gave it about a 40% shot at renewal after its 1.6 premiere, thought that shot up to like 60% after it got a 1.7 in week two, dropped back to maybe 40% after the drop to 1.4, and now I only have it at about 20% after last week's 1.0. And the 20% is pretty much based on the 1.0 being an outlier and a bounce-back coming in future weeks. Can't really count out another upswing, since the week-to-week moves have been a bit unbelievably drastic, but enough of an upswing now seems pretty unlikely.

NBC UnscriptedTrue2A18-49Counted EpsEps
1The Voice Mon Spring
2The Voice Tue Spring
3The Voice Mon Fall3.504.00514
4The Voice Tue Fall3.363.64515
5The Biggest Loser2.142.13411
6Celebrity Apprentice1.691.6739
7Take It All1.571.3026
8Dateline Fri1.531.301028
9Off Their Rockers1.391.14515
10Rock Center1.210.941028
11Dateline Sun1.111.2025
12Fashion Star0.980.7037
13Ready for Love0.801.1013

The real interest on the NBC unscripted front next season is how they schedule around the Winter Olympics, which will fall from February 7 to 23. That's right smack in the middle of what would've been The Biggest Loser's season if scheduled like last year (which I think was a sound strategy). In theory, they could pretty much run The Voice on the same pattern as last year, or even start it earlier. The Biggest Loser is more questionable.

You could air it in the fall, simultaneous with The Voice, or in the spring, simultaneous with The Voice, or you could start it right after the Olympics and then air The Voice in the same slot, but extremely late. (As in, late April to May.) But any of those plans would probably set up NBC for an extraordinarily rough January, perhaps even worse than their January 2013. Maybe they will go the America's Got Talent route and split the season around the Olympics? I'm not sure there's really any better choice.


Spot said...

Other than Parks and Recreation and a 13-episode order for Community, I'd cancel every other comedy instead of either seeing the shows sink further or have to soak up a Voice lead-out slot just to appear respectable. Renewing any other comedy is about non-ratings considerations: placating a studio, keeping a creator happy, an incredibly cheap license fee, saving face etc.

The Winter Olympics make me think that NBC should consider pulling The Biggest Loser back to a Fall/Spring cycle on Thursdays, paired with Law & Order: SVU. It would be a decent stop-gap for a year to give NBC time to see which of its new shows could be used to rebuild the night in 2014-2015. Yes, NBC will have a terrible January if it goes this way. But at least it would probably only be for that month instead of the terrible three months they just had.

As for its dramas, I feel Chicago Fire's proposed spin-off (Chicago PD?) may be paired with the mothership a la NCIS/NCIS: LA. Depending on where schizophrenic Hannibal ends up by the upfront, I could see it with Grimm on Fridays.

Spot said...

My idea for The Biggest Loser is rather simple: Sundays. I think it would do great there post-Olympics. Something NBC is desperately going to need after the Olympics is a launching pad for new shows. TBL is the only show on NBC not named The Voice that is able to maintain a 2.0+. It can lead a new drama at 10.

The only question is, where would Celebrity Apprentice go? I don't like its ratings now, so I wouldn't give it a fall slot, but how about in January? If it premieres behind The Voice's final preformance show in December (which should be 1 hour & on Dec 16), it could be a perfect bridge. Air it Mondays @ 8 from Dec 16 to Feb 3 (8 weeks, no repeats), and perhaps have a 2-day finale to fit it all in.

Spot said...

Any new comedy could match their current crop with greater upside -- but with the extra burdens of greater costs to the network and more promotion. I think something will be back, probably Community at the least given its ratings, timeslot and veteran status. I can't believe The New Normal will be back. Then again, the network seems to hate Community and love The New Normal.

I think NBC should keep SVU in the 9/8c Wednesday slot. It's underperforming due to the competition, but it's a really tough timeslot for NBC and it's helping Chicago Fire. Assuming they put MJF on Thursday at 9/8c, then they could move Parenthood to Thursday, move Revolution to 10/9c Tuesday and putting a new compatible drama (Sixth Gun?) between it and The Voice to give it some support.

The obvious solution for TBL is to premiere it on Sunday after the games and use it to prop up the fading Apprentice for another season. They could trial a new reality format in the 4 weeks in January. A weak January seems unavoidable, but at least they know they will have a strong February.

Spot said...

I love this idea, I think it is the best idea I have heard so far for NBC Olympics situation! I had already decided to put TBL on Sundays too (it did very well there when it premiered this season). Not entirely sure about the new drama after it though (I would still put it there, but not something too high profile though, because chances of it making aren't huge IMO). But using the apprentice as January bridge is a great idea!

Spot said...

NBC Comedies:
1. Parks and Recreation: 1.52
2. The Office: 1.52
3. 30 Rock: 1.11
4. Community: 1.11
5. Go On: 0.95
6. The New Normal: 0.94 [Please note that this is inflated due to the late season voice airing, I have yet to find a way to account for this]
7. Whitney: 0.86
8. Up All Night: 0.86 [Should be lower, I need to start freezing indexes when shows go off the air]
9. Guys with Kids: 0.80
10. Animal Practice: 0.78 [See Up All Night]
11. 1600 Penn: 0.55

Honestly, I feel like all has been said about this. I would only renew Parks and Community (I am speaking from a ratings standpoint, as I happen to like Go On]. I am glad that you share my sentiment that everyone thinking that NBC renewing The New Normal just because of the post voice airing would be too much. I think Go On has a chance, but I wouldn't do it, and at this point, I feel like they won't do it either. As for the multicams, Guys with Kids making it over Whitney would surprise me, but I guess the political factor could somehow explain it.

I would 100% cut back their comedy hour to half though, with only Thursday comedies airing.

Spot said...

In what concerns dramas:
1. Parenthood: 2.21
2. Grimm: 1.26
3. Revolution: 1.24
4. Chicago Fire: 1.02
5. Law and Order: SVU: 0.98
6. Deception: 0.67
7. Hannibal: 0.62
8. Smash: 0.60
9. Do No Harm: 0.40

Nothing standing out here, but I definitely find your true scores accurate, as I think SVU takes a lot of hit in that slot and still does reasonably well. In terms of moves, I basically agree that Chicago Fire is the most likely to stay put, I somehow agree that Grimm will stay on Fridays (regardless of how it looks to us now, with a reasonable number of new shows, NBC doesn't have that many spots on weekdays).
I agree that it is a complicated decision to make between sending SVUs to finally save the Thursdays at 10 slot and having a new show take the 9pm slot on Wednesdays or taking what they have with SVU there (minimizing the chicago fire risk). Personally, because I feel like they need to take risks, I would go with the former - it cannot be that difficult to find a drama that has self starting potential and bump it up with non stop promotion during all summer. I also refuse to believe that it is impossible to find a drama that has quality to sustain viewers. I would bet on a procedural for this role, ideally After Hours which will be compatible with Chicago Fire. Speaking of which, I love the show, but I think it is too soon for a spin-off, its ratings are great for NBC, but that great for a spin off.
As for Parenthood, I think it should simply replace the series of low rated comedies on the Wednesday at 8 hour. It has shown its ability to self start, so it should do good here and provide a solid, albeit non spectacular lead-in for the 9pm player. It would guarantee stability for the night (as in, a demo north of 1.5) [The only minor I see here is that I am not too happy with it going against the middle, as I expect cross audience, but I would still go for it].
Then there is Revolution... My opinion has been that it should move to Tuesdays at 10 so that 1) NBC can give the voice lead-in to another show; 2) It still has an indirect voice lead in (provided that the bridge show is compatible with it, which Believe seems to be), 3) NBC can avoid launching two dramas back to back on Tuesdays [assuming Parenthood does move]. However, I was not expecting ratings to fall as much as they are falling. As spot, I thought in the fall its success went beyond the voice, but recently I have been proven wrong. So, I am not sure it would even be enough to have an indirect voice lead-in as I think it would be below current's parenthood numbers. On the other hand, having it be the lead-in for a new show at 10pm also doesn't appeal me. I suppose Parenthood could stay put and Rev could take Tuesdays at 9pm, but then I don't see the upside of moving it in the first place, since it would still take one of the post voice slots, which I think both should go to new shows... So, all is said and done, Tuesdays at 10pm is still the best bet I have for it.

Spot said...


Monday [inspired by Nick with the Celebrity Apprentice idea]
The Voice/ The Celebrity Apprentice/ The Olympics/ The Voice
The Voice/ The Celebrity Apprentice/ The Olympics/ The Voice
I am Viktor or another procedural/Procedural Repeats/ I am Viktor or another procedural

The Voice

*Big problem with this night: it would need to go off the air all together before Christmas break and come back only at the beginning of march after the Olympics. However, I have no idea what filler to use for january. Maybe The Sing-Off?

After Hours
Chicago Fire

Parks and Recreation
New Comedy
New Comedy
Law and Order: SVU


Dateline NBC

Sundays (come midseason)
The Biggest Looser
The Biggest Looser
Hannibal if renewed or New Drama

Spot said...

When it comes to Grimm, I just keep coming back to the 10/26 episode. The busted pilot of Mockingbird Lane shows up and gives it the first halfway decent lead in since the premiere of Stars Earn Stripes, and it jumps up to 2.0. After an equally well-rated hurricane special, NBC just threw reruns of failed comedies and it dropped. Then when Grimm came back in the spring, they inexplicably went for the unintentional comedy of Fashion Star, which has yet to pull a 1.0, leading to further declines. Note to networks: You. Can't. Half-Ass. Fridays! It's already a night where people aren't necessarily going to watch TV. Either put the effort in with originals, reality or scripted, or just throw in a bunch of reruns. Mixing and matching isn't going to cut it.

Spot said...

I'm glad you like it. Just a note about your issue for the new drama: You can always move it to a post-Voice slot if one of the lead-outs flops. If neither does, TBL is the best lead-out it'll get (outside of possibly the MJF sitcom). Here's a January schedule for NBC (conforming to my fall sched):

8: Celebrity Apprentice (9 episodes; through December as well)
10: Believe (R)

8: The Voice (R)
10: Chicago Fire (R)

8: Parks & Rec
8:30: Betty White's Off Their Rockers
9: Law & Order: SVU
10: After Hours
(Have this night in originals in January, remember how well it did this past Jan?)

8: The Sing-Off (8 episodes; run since December)
10: Revolution
(Since Revolution needs to, like, die already, burn off the episodes here)

8: Dateline
9: Rock Center
10: Dracula (R)


8: Grimm (R)
9: Law & Order: SVU (R)
10: Saturday Night Live (R)

7: Dateline NBC
9: The Voice (R)

Now conforming to your sched (Because I like making schedules, that's why!):

8: Celebrity Apprentice
10: I am Viktor (R)

8: Betty White's Off Their Rockers
9: Believe (R)
10: Revolution (R)

8: Parenthood
9: After Hours
10: Chicago Fire

8: The Sing-Off
10: SVU (R)
(Sing-Off can't be on Tues because it couldn't run straight through thanks to Christmas & New Years Eves)

8: Rock Center
9: Dateline NBC


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