Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall 2013 Best Case/Worst Case, Thursday 10/9c

The Basics:

bc Rank y2y Rank TPUT Rank bc/TPUT Rank
Thursday 10:00 8.4 14 -1% 1 32.2 14 26% 12

Thursday 10:00 was the healthiest hour on broadcast TV in 2012-13. Your instinctive response to that is probably, "Oh, yeah, Scandal," but the interesting thing is that NBC was actually up even more than ABC! Rock Center and Hannibal proved slightly less embarrassing than the previous season's Prime Suspect and Awake. The growth on those two networks combined to nearly nullify the declines from CBS, where the somewhat disappointing Elementary replaced The Mentalist.

The Shows:

Image Scandal Slot Average
Premieres October 3 2.10
Best Case: The two highest points in series history, a couple 3.2's, came at the end of last season. That means the sky is pretty much the limit. It brings upper 3's into the season, breaks a 4.0 at some point, and ends up averaging a 3.50, up 40%!

Worst Case:
It brings that 3.2ish back for premiere night, but it settles at the more typical mid-2's in the fall. Then the burn-out signs start to appear in the spring. Ends up at a 2.25, down by 10%.

This show is going to be up year-to-year by so much in the opening weeks (when it was getting a 2.0ish last year) that it's hard to see the season as a whole not growing. I still have questions about the sustainability of this whole thing, so by season's end I see it falling back to about even with the corresponding episodes. But the scorching fall means a 2.88 average, up 15% from last year, and it's rather easily TV's top 10:00 drama. ABC makes some drastic move with the Grey's/Scandal duo for fall 2014.
Slot Orig Avg
y2y Label
+24% solid2.50 2.33
True Sitch
2.33 +7%
Last Pick Miss
2.01 +24%
2012-13 Slot
Thursday 10:00

Image Elementary Slot Average
Premieres September 26 2.04
Best Case: Scandal and Parenthood cannibalize each other and Elementary suddenly finds itself a solid counter-programming option. Two and a Half Men is a larger lead-in than the second half of Person of Interest was last year. +7% to a 2.42.

Worst Case:
This show was a disappointment from start to finish. Now it's much lower on the CBS promotional priority list and it's got a considerably less compatible Two and a Half Men lead-in, plus as much competition as a CBS show will pretty much ever see at 10:00. A catastrophic -30% to 1.58 that may get it cancelled outright.

This feels to me like a sophomore slump waiting to happen. Two and a Half Men was of no real help to Person of Interest last season, so I see a likely much weaker version being a net negative leading into the already modest Elementary. Throw in a red-hot ABC opponent and an actually somewhat competent NBC and getting into the twos will be really tough. -21% to a 1.79, and it could easily be bound for the Friday/Sunday fray.
Slot Orig Avg
y2y Label
solid2.29 2.14
True Sitch
2.13 +6%
Last Pick Miss
2.87 -21%
2012-13 Slot
Thursday 10:00

Image Parenthood Slot Average
Premieres September 26 1.22
Best Case: If Parenthood could go -5% last season when its lead-in was disappointing The New Normal, why can't it do even better with Michael J. Fox as a lead-in? It grows by 14% to a 2.09, equaling its season two raw numbers.

Worst Case:
Parenthood basically held up last year because it was facing an extraordinarily weak CBS and a non-factor ABC in the Tuesday 10:00 hour. It will have no such luck this year, as Scandal positively runs it over, and it has to air episodes in the low-viewed spring (when it was off the air last year). Down by 27% to a 1.33. It's still an improvement in the hour, but it will likely struggle to get renewed at that level.

This is a toughie because so many things are changing in so many directions. Last year it had no real lead-in and no real competition. This year it should have a better lead-in and will have very real competition. It seems like NBC's promoting it more than usual, but it also has to deal with the late spring. All of it ends up cancelling out to a roughly league average drop: 1.65.
Slot Orig Avg
Rock Center
y2y Label
-5% marginal1.02 1.24
True SitchDo No Harm
1.69 +9%
Last Pick Miss0.80 1.06
1.74 +5%Hannibal
2012-13 Slot
Tuesday 10:001.29 1.47

The Cable:

ShowNetworkPremieres Avg y2y
Thursday Night FootballNFLN9/122.61+5%
Covert AffairsUSA10/170.69-20%

The Network to Watch: Parenthood's transition to Thursday will be really interesting, but the answer here is ABC. How high will Scandal fly?

The Picks: Locked in on Scandal and Parenthood. I've kept up with Covert Affairs this summer but I'll probably save the fall run for the holidays.


Spot said...

Too bad ABC doesn't get the Super Bowl this year; Scandal feels like a show that would hit greater highs after being a SB lead-out similar to how Grey's Anatomy did in 2006. But at least like Grey's, this will probably be a serialized drama that has two seasons of ratings growth.

The worst thing for Parenthood would be for Sean Saves the World to flop but MJF to succeed; it'll lead NBC to moving MJF and put a weaker or unproven sitcom at 9:30. Then it could have no lead-in AND very real competition. But Parenthood feels like a show with a more loyal audience and may make another season while NBC focuses on Wednesdays in 2014-2015.

Elementary's situation is unusual. You have to go back to 2007-2008 to find CBS canceling a drama in its second year (if you exclude NBC refugee Medium): Shark and Jericho. (Even then you could make the argument that the writer's strike did those shows in: Shark had its production rhythm interrupted while resurrected Jericho essentially aired during CBS' "summer" in the winter.) But I think there's a real possibility of Elementary getting canceled if it pulls mid-1s; CBS can't be confident in the show holding up in a Friday or Sunday move, and a Sunday move in particular would be just to have the show skate along until a syndication deal is made.

I made sample Scandal in this hour, but more likely I'm taking a flyer to catch up on the DVR'ed shows.

Spot said...

Scandal is the big story of the time slot, isn't it? Even if it "disappoints" with a mid-2s premiere, that's still 25% growth year-to-year, which is massive for a third season. If they could somehow manage another twist like last year's "Who shot the President?" storyline, I think a mid-3s average is a possibility. The fact that Shonda Rhimes treats each batch of episodes separately seems to be why it doesn't get the some creativity complaints that Once and Revenge have been saddled with the past year.

There's also the mini-syndie deal with BET to tap into the show's huge black female fandom. I'm sure it'll have some effect, though I'm not sure if it will be positive or negative. Are people going to not watch live or same day as often, knowing that they can wait until after the seven-day window and watch the next weekend? (I kind of doubt it. It's still a "water cooler" show now.)

Elementary is in a bad situation, IMO. It did not stand out in its first season, hanging out in the low-2s even though a highly-compatible show in Person of Interest was in the high-2s or better pretty much the entire time.The Super Bowl lead-out treatment didn't help. The two-hour finale with Moriarty reveal didn't help. It's only been on the air for one year, and it already looks spent. Now it'll have fratcom Two and a Half Men with its 37th retool as a lead-in, and we don't know how stable it'll be after single-cam Crazy Ones. I think it falls another 15% below 2. Then it's up to CBS to see if it will try to drag yet another CBS TV-owned show into syndication.

Parenthood is an odd duck. I think it has enough of a built-in audience that even if Sean Saves the World and Michael J. Fox Show were to flop, they wouldn't take it down with them the way 1600 Penn took down Hannibal. That said, if they were both to succeed, I don't see any growth potential in this pretty serialized drama. What I think that some might disagree with is that I don't see a lot of audience crossover between this and Scandal. Setting aside the racial component of the audiences, there is a distinct tonal difference between standard drama Parenthood and soapy Scandal. I guess that it only drops 5% to the high-1s. It could very well be the highest number of the night.

Spot said...

Scandal: I adore this show to death and it was killing me to see it battling for survival in its early days, I don't think I've ever seen such an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise ratings wise. This being said, while I think it will still be huge, I don't think it will be able to have as much of a good spring as it did last year. I give it a slightly worse than yours 2,78 - still an enormous hit! This being said, the sky really is the limit and it could shock us all yet again (and I would love it!)

Elementary: I really think CBS did a disservice by keeping the show in a midweek timeslot this year. Comparing it directly with H50 for instance, I feel like the show would do a better job on fridays than h50 will do and I feel that this one will do slighly worse numbers on thursday than 5.0 would have kept bringing on mondays. Anyway, I predict a terrible thing here. Promotion is gone, super compatible lead-in is gone and competition is worse. Where are the positives? A 1.69 and CBS has tough decisions ahead of it on the drama department at the end of the year

Parenthood: This is the biggest unknown of the hour. You summed it up perfectly. It has positives, it has negatives. Ultimately, I think that the airing in the spring effect will be a big one and I also feel that moves, by themselves, also lead to some degree of erosion. A 1.51, but probably still gets its renewal.

Network to watch: Parenthood is very interesting and the biggest unknown, but I will go with Scandal

My picks: Scandal of course! Also, I am in the same boat as you with Covert Affairs (have caught up with the summer season, but will probably watch the fall portion later on). Later on, my beloved Suits!

Spot said...

Some may argue that Scandal was the biggest story of last season, so saying it is the biggest story of this timeslot is for sure not a stretch!

Spot said...

Regarding Elementary: I think Fridays will fall apart and I think Sundays will continue to fall into horrific territory. Therefore, even assuming Intelligence comes back in the fall and that Undercover Boss would remain in the fall and that the 4th comedy hour sticks, CBS would still have 5 potentially problematic hours: Elementary+H50+Blue Bloods+The Good Wife+The Mentalist. It is a tossup at this point if Elementary makes it or not out of these. Normally, I would agree with the "bird on the one hand" argument (assuming that if the show survives, it's weekend bound), but the cancellation of MC and its replacement with TN suggests otherwise. It really is hard to say at this point.

Spot said...

I think there's a possibility that Scandal averages above 3.0.

Spot said...

I'm not really sure there's a scenario where the audiences cannibalize each other. I think they're all distinct.

That said, I am worried that people just aren't interested in Elementary, so that one might be worth keeping an eye on.

My pick:

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