Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fall 2013 Best Case/Worst Case, Thursday 8/7c

The Basics:

bc Rank y2y Rank TPUT Rank bc/TPUT Rank
Thursday 8:00 10.3 6 -8% 7 32.1 15 32% 4

Even with ABC a mess as always, and even with NBC still airing low-rated comedies, and even with Fox's singing shows collapsing, this was still the weeknight 8:00 hour down the least year-to-year. Credit another incredible year of raw numbers growth from The Big Bang Theory, a really strong 8:30 import in Two and a Half Men, and a surprisingly stout The Vampire Diaries.

The Shows:

Image Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (NEW!) Slot Average
Slot Orig Avg
Premieres October 10 1.33
Best Case: After a slew of off-brand lightweights in this hour, ABC rides a more female-friendly known brand to some rare respectability. With The X Factor tanking and NBC basically off the map, the hour is not actually that tough anymore, and Wonderland is great counter-programming. And it's actually a better show than the increasingly overcrowded mothership. 2.04, essentially hitting the same Plus as ABC's only recent success in this hour (season one of Ugly Betty).

Worst Case: The ABC Thursday 8:00 curse is a real thing! And Once Upon a Time is a dying brand, not one ABC should be spinning off. The OUAT association is actually a net negative as it matches Zero Hour's 1.17 and fails to last to November.

Likeliest: This could really go either way. In a vacuum, Once is not a strong enough show for a spin-off, but the whole point of Once is that it has built-in familiarities that go beyond the show itself. I'm not seeing a breakout, but I am seeing an improvement on Last Resort, and ABC will have far bigger problems in the fall than this show. 1.65.
Last Resort
1.38 1.47
Zero Hour
1.17 1.31
Wife Swap
1.36 1.61

Image The Big Bang Theory Slot Average
Premieres September 26 4.49
Best Case: It's not like last year's year-to-year growth was frontloaded. Even the finale was up a few ticks. So that improbably continues, with TBBT up another 5% to a whooping 5.50.

Worst Case: The show has gotten somewhat overexposed with its 300 repeats a week on TBS, and the fatigue begins to show in first-run. Down it goes, by 17% to a 4.35, but it's probably still the #1 entertainment show on TV.

Likeliest: In this day and age, raw numbers growth for a show this big just can't continue forever... right? It's just gravity. This is still a hot show, but not as hot in terms of percent growth as last year, and by the second half of the season the decline in raw numbers will finally begin to set in. It drops 5% to its 2011-12 average of 4.97, though that means it once again grows in Plus to, once again, the biggest level for a sitcom since Friends left the air.
Slot Orig Avg
The Big Bang Theory
y2y Label
+6% megahit5.25 5.46
True Sitch
5.46 -4%
Last Pick Miss
5.20 +1%
2012-13 Slot
Thursday 8:00

Image The Millers (NEW!) Slot Average
Slot Orig Avg
Premieres October 3 3.78
Best Case: Finally, CBS has found a Big Bang Theory lead-out that is actually a decent program! With this cast and writing staff, it can't miss. It ties last year's 2.5 Men average at 3.79, beating 2011-12 2 Broke Girls to become the biggest A18-49+-era new sitcom.

Worst Case:
Why does CBS think family sitcoms are a good fit with TBBT? This is $#*! My Dad Says all over again, and the lead is a dude with a far from sparkling Nielsen track record. Its lead-in means it will almost surely have good raw numbers, but 50% retention of Big Bang ain't gonna cut it. 2.50 and done.

The cast and Greg Garcia mean this show will probably end up being a cut above $#*! My Dad Says, but for some reason that comparison just keeps gnawing away at me. This just doesn't strike me as the wonderful fit many are expecting. I'm giving it a 3.15. That'll technically qualify it as a big hit in Plus, but its low-60s retention will still be widely seen as disappointing. Can a broadcast network cancel a show with a 3.0+ average in 2013-14? I'm guessing no, but we may get an interesting case study.
Two and a Half Men
3.79 3.03

Image Parks and Recreation Slot Average
Premieres September 26 1.31
Best Case: Parks gets some syndication exposure on FXX/WGN, and these shows don't particularly care about having to face CBS comedies. Parks actually did barely better at 8:30 than at 9:30 after The Office last season! NBC's 9:00 newbies succeed, and that success reverberates to the other two hours. Basically holds up at a 1.60.

Worst Case:
Parks hasn't had the best timeslots in the world, but it ain't seen nothing yet. This is The Big Bang Theory we are talking about. Drops nearly 30% in the lead-off role to below Community's average at 1.18.

If ABC could get a new comedy night off the ground in 2009 with Hank leading it off, then NBC can do it with Parks leading off. It's gonna be down 17% to a 1.35, basically maintaining their original average in the slot last year, and that'll still be enough for a final season renewal.
Slot Orig Avg
30 Rock
y2y Label
-12% marginal1.39 1.49
True SitchCommunity
1.71 -5%
Last Pick Miss1.24 1.48
1.97 -18%
2012-13 Slot
Thu 9:30, Thu 8:30

Image Welcome to the Family (NEW!) Slot Average
Slot Orig Avg
Premieres October 3 1.50
Best Case: While NBC's Modern Family is somewhere in the 9:00 hour, this quietly appealing show could benefit from the 9:00 hour hype and become NBC's The Middle, building nicely on its low-rated lead-in. A 1.75 and a move to the 8:00 lead-off role next season.

Worst Case:
If NBC wants to get into the family comedy game, they have to be splashier about it. A low-profile show leading out of an incompatible workplace comedy ain't gonna cut it. It averages a paltry 1.00, well below Parks, and is easily replaced by Community at midseason.

There's not that much chance that this does well out of the gate, though I hope it at least stays afloat enough to get another whirl with some better scheduling. Assuming it stays here, I'll say it edges Up All Night's average and nearly ties its Parks lead-in at a 1.30, and that will at least keep it around into midseason.
Up All Night
1.27 1.43
Parks and Recreation
1.64 1.91

Image The X Factor Slot Average
Premieres September 12 2.93
Best Case: Fox drops the "embrace the trainwreck" approach that didn't work last year, and X is able to reclaim some legitimacy with a stronger judging panel. It drops just 5% to a 2.65, and is actually up year-to-year by season's end.

Worst Case:
We thought Britney Spears didn't help The X Factor last year, but she actually did help; the show would've totally melted down without her. Said meltdown comes this year. Down over a third to a 1.82, and though those are still "acceptable" ratings, Fox doesn't like the cost, the trajectory, and the damage to Idol, so they decide to end this and try to shore up Idol.

It's just when I write these kinds of shows off that they always seem to surge back. The loss of Britney may improve the product. That said, with Idol coming off another bad season, I don't see a compelling reason to say the ship will get righted. Replicates last year's -22% to a very mediocre 2.17 and has to sweat out a renewal decision.
Slot Orig Avg
The X Factor
y2y Label
-22% hit2.79 2.88
True SitchAmerican Idol
2.88 -3%
Last Pick Miss3.68 3.87
3.23 -14%
2012-13 Slot
Thursday 8:00

Image The Vampire Diaries Slot Average
Premieres October 3 0.95
Best Case: With all the Originals off on their own show now, TVD gets back to basics and has another stellar, tightly-focused season. Down 2% to a 1.22.

Worst Case:
The Originals are missed. TVD overachieved last year in dropping just 4%, which is almost unheard of for a CDub show these days. It's going to make up for that by evening out in a big way. Down a whooping 24% to just a 0.94.

While TVD will still be rock solid, I do think it's one of those shows that's going to "make up" for its overachievement last year. Losing so many cast members might make a bit of an impact as well. I give TVD its biggest drop yet, down 17% to a 1.03, but it's still the network's top program.
Slot Orig Avg
The Vampire Diaries
y2y Label
-4% hit(CW)1.24 1.41
True Sitch
1.41 -12%
Last Pick Miss
1.11 +12%
2012-13 Slot
Thursday 8:00

The Network to Watch: I'm taking CBS here. If The Millers doesn't work at 8:30, it could really derail the whole Thursday comedy expansion thing. NBC's 8:00 hour is not as important to the success of its higher-profile 9:00 hour.

The Picks: Definitely watching Big Bang and Parks, and I'll probably end up with at least one of the 8:30 sitcoms. I kind of liked the look of Once in Wonderland but I'm not sure it will be something I want to seek out online/On Demand.


Spot said...

Loved reading this, I am glad this is back. It's a great way to look at the pending season.

As a sidenote, doesn't X Factor premiere on September 11 on Wednesdays and September 12 on Thursdays?

Spot said...

The Millers will probably be the best new show retainer of TBBT, which could be good enough for a season 2. At minimum I'd wager 3 half-hour slots are going to be vacant for next year (HIMYM, 2.5 Men, and We Are Men) so there's room to schedule it.

I do think The Vampire Diaries benefited from a weaker X-Factor last season as well as ABC trying to skew more male with Last Resort and Zero Hour. Female-focused Wonderland and its fantastical elements may hurt Diaries. But as an 18-34 year old male, I'll still watch both anyway.

Spot said...

I think that 2.5 Men still has two more seasons for two reasons:

1. CBS does not want to lose HIMYM and 2.5 Men in the same year.
2. The "third-season advantage for syndication" applies here if a network wants the Ashton Kutcher episodes.

Spot said...

The two best comedies on TV airing in the exact same timeslot!

I'm not so sure about The Millers, only because of how it looks quality wise (although We Are Men still looks worse).

Spot said...

There are some mitigating circumstances with 2.5 Men:

1. CBS and Warner Brothers have to renegotiate over The Big Bang Theory since its 3-season pickup ends this season. Some haggling over that show could include a *wink-wink nudge-nudge* renewal for 2.5 Men since WB also produces it.
2. CBS could also want to keep Chuck Lorre happy. I'd argue they've done more than that by giving him 3 shows on the network (2.5, Mom, Mike & Molly).
3. WB could end the show and start the second-round of syndication sales for the sitcom sooner.

I think Men will still have the ratings to be renewed, but behind the scenes factors may start to play in.

Spot said...

Chuck Lorre has 4 shows on the network, you're missing out on TBBT.

At the moment I'm betting on 2.5 getting at least one more season after this upcoming one.

Spot said...

Oh yeah. Don't know how that skipped my mind.

Spot said...

BBT's still getting better than 1 regularly on TBS; a 5+ seems about right for new eps.

Spot said...

I think the Millers will be rate well enough to play the typical Greg Garcia utility role. My Name Is Earl had three different time slots in four seasons, Yes Dear had four in six seasons, and Raising Hope has already had three in three.

Spot said...

I think Parks will be hit harder than that by TBBT, especially as it's now paired with a bunch of incompatible family comedies rather than the compatible The Office/Community. I think the show has really gone downhill creatively as of late.

I wouldn't be surprised if Welcome to the Family does okay or if it completely bombs. It's a horrible timeslot and so much depends on NBC's ability to promote it to Latino audiences. The upside is that NBC won't be expecting much from that slot.

I think people are generally a little too confident about the success of The Millers.

I agree that Wonderland will do okay. I think it's a good way of dealing with a difficult timeslot.

Spot said...

Quite honestly, outside Big Bang, there's nothing I really want to watch in this hour, and if The Millers turns out to be totally worthless, I'll take a flyer on live TV and use my DVR or On Demand to keep up w/ Big Bang.

Spot said...

TaaHM has the advantage of only having 2 major cast members and being multicamera, which helps keep costs down.

I imagine the show will continue until Jon Cryer wants to stop or its ratings fall enough to make it unsustainable. I don't see why that couldn't be 3 or 4 seasons down the line.

I'm not an expert on syndication economics but I imagine it makes financial sense for Warner to keep the show going as long as possible.

Spot said...

"...probably still the #1 entertainment show on TV."
Broadcast TV, I presume, unless you're predicting a Jersey Shore-esque trajectory for TWD when it comes back in October? (I agree that TBBT will likely hang around the 5.0 mark, and I wouldn't want to guess which side of that line TWD will be.)

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