Friday, November 1, 2013

NBC True Power Rankings, October 2013

As November sweeps kicks off, it's time for this season's first full edition of the True Power Rankings! I line up every entertainment program in broadcast primetime by network/category using my timeslot metric True, offering some thoughts on the ratings strength of the shows. As on the Weekly True Power Rankings, these True and A18-49 numbers are averages of the last third of the season's episodes to date rounded up, which weeds out inflated early episodes that don't really matter anymore. This year, I'm also including the year-to-year trend for the season to date and the "skew" (or percent of the total audience within the 18-49 demo). The number of episodes in the average is listed under "Counted Eps." These numbers are all through October 27.

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

NBC ComediesTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The... Elite? The Dunzo? The Bubble?
1Parks and Recreation1.411.2549%-26%2
2The Michael J. Fox Show1.361.2040%2
3Sean Saves the World1.211.1039%2

New season, same old NBC sitcom woes. NBC's latest attempt to artificially brew "broadness" was a success in a skew sense; Michael J. Fox and Sean Saves the World have the CBS/ABC comedy kind of Skew. But the quantity of a CBS audience is just not there; it's another lesson in why the other broadcasters can't just "be CBS" and have their kind of success. NBC doesn't have the base audience, the "big stars" were not nearly big enough, and the shows are not distinctive enough. But because there were even bigger disasters elsewhere, Sean and MJF get to hang around for a little while and hope to benefit from a revolving door of lead-ins across the rest of 2013.

By the way, Parks and Rec has also "broadened" a bit, skewing 49% 18-49ers this year. Last year, both Parks and The Office were over 60%. Still, the show has held onto enough 18-49 audience to rise above the collapsing newbies, in the same way Community always seems to.

NBC ComediesTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Definitely Dunzo
4Welcome to the Family0.990.9045%1

NBC DramasTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Elite
1The Blacklist2.513.0036%2

Though I have a feeling Monday shows (particularly Monday 10/9c shows) might be a touch over-counted because Monday Night Football is included as competition, the story is the same for The Blacklist. It's doing well. Does it get a chance to air without The Voice this season? NBC has to decide if they want to actually try to keep the lights on at all in that awkward month without The Voice and before the Olympics.

NBC DramasTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The "Wait Until Next Week" Division

The good thing about not doing these rankings till the end of October is that most of the inflated premieres are out of the picture. Not here, though. NBC had a very fine start to its Friday lineup, but we're comparing episode ones in this division against the fourth and fifth eps of most other shows. So... take caution.

However, the good news for Dracula is that it only has a 10-episode order, so there's not a full season of time to taper off before its renewal decision comes up. If it's still hanging onto low-1's by the end of the fall, I feel pretty confident it'd come back, given it's Friday and it's a co-production.

NBC DramasTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The "Still Better Than the Comedies" Division
4Law and Order: SVU1.591.6034%+4%2
5Chicago Fire1.582.2037%+31%2

First note: the True metric has been a huge seller on Chicago Fire, even at the beginning of the season. From a skew standpoint, ChiFi is more compatible with The Voice than The Blacklist (which tends to skew a little older), and the Tuesday competition is not fierce (while The Blacklist gets credit for facing Monday Night Football). But even if the show is not really any stronger than it was last year, that's not a particularly actionable piece of intel. It's not like the show is in cancellation territory, even in a True sense. But this Tuesday lineup, hailed as a wild success early in the season, doesn't quite look that way anymore.

While Parenthood and Revolution may be near the bottom of the rankings right now, we're still very early. I don't think they're dead yet simply because NBC is off the map comedy-wise yet again, and there are likely many disasters yet to come. They've at least settled in at ratings that NBC can put up with for the rest of this season, which by NBC standards can be considered a minor win. That was not a given before the season, especially for Revolution. We can safely say it didn't completely "pull a Smash."

NBC DramasTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Dunzo

NBC UnscriptedTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
1The Voice Mon4.174.4041%+2%2
2The Voice Tue3.474.0540%-2%2
3The Biggest Loser1.892.0039%-20%1
4Dateline Fri1.511.3028%+10%2

While The Biggest Loser has been respectable, I do think a bit better could've been expected given it's paired with The Voice. How well would TBL have done if thrown to Thursday to patch up that disaster? Probably not as well as it's doing now, but... that's still a lot better than the comedy ratings.


Spot said...

I agree. I really thought it was a mistake to green-light this and give it such a prime spot in pre-season and I see no compelling reason to change my mind.

Spot said...

Allegedly The Vampire Diaries was preempted in NYC and aired later in the evening. So we could see a two tick upward adjustment because shedding half a point between episodes is very unusual for this show.

Spot said...

I was about to point this out as well.

Spot said...

I don't have much to say here. The comedy situation really is sad and there is not much more to add there... At this point, it wouldn't shock me if Community got that once improbable sixth season renewal.

As for the dramas, I agree with most of it. Chicago Fire is an interesting case of your True Metric. As for renewals, I think it will come down to one of Revolution and Parenthood assuming that one midseason drama makes it and that TBL is off fall schedule next year (which is likely since they will need it to bridge the voice again I think with no olympics). I pray that Revolution is the one to make it, but it is impossible to tell at this point.

Nothing else really strikes out to me here, I agree with you on the rest.

Spot said...

I would have just used "Blerg" to describe NBC's comedy situation. And unless NBC actually uses The Voice in the Spring as planned to launch two new sitcoms, I don't see it changing at all this season. If Community ekes out a 6th season because of it, at this point I would only be mildly surprised.

Meanwhile its dramas are again the network's stronger scripted suit. I do wonder if having Revolution and SVU are relying on each other somewhat like Hawaii Five-O & Blue Bloods; both shows debuted much higher than forecast and are holding up better than expected given the expectations (Revolution) and tough timeslot (SVU).

So what does NBC do with The Biggest Loser? Does it find itself moved to Thursdays or Sundays in the Spring (I'm still inclined to not believe NBC sticks with its upfront-announced Sunday schedule)? If the Celebrity Apprentice casting rumors are true, that makes a Thursday edition more likely. But maybe CA transitions to being a summer series...

Spot said...

Yep. I saw comments on tumblr complaining about it coming on at 10 pm instead of 8, because of a Halloween parade being shown on the CW or something.

Spot said...

For me, the worst thing is NBC had a critically acclaimed comedy lineup, and IMHO deservedly so. The Office (which actually was a hit at its prime), P&R, 30 Rock and my personal favorite Changunity (sans season 4). That lineup felt more cableish than broadcastish.

Nowadays, NBC has some bland sitcoms with washed up family theme, yet ratings of those shows are dangerously close to the CW / Univision territory. Disaster.

Spot said...

I actually saw a commercial for The Millers. It was a Halloween episode right after a BBT Halloween rerun. Interesting that it didn't draw.

Somehow this turned into more good news for The Goldbergs!

Spot said...

I don't have much to add here, I agree with most of your remarks. The Mindy Project is such a bizarre situation because I think it's really worthless to look at its 18-49s at this point for the most part. I also think that Dads it not quite dead as we may think. I liked your earlier idea that it could get tried out on Sundays. Other than that, I have to feel that Fox is somehow pleased with Tuesday performance otherwise I have to feel that they wouldn't do something like sacrifice Enlisted to Fridays. I am kind of sad about that as it looks a good one. Surviving Jack on Thursdays is also interesting and it sounds like they believe in it somehow. I think that provided that Idol is able to do a competent job, which is doubtful, the 8h30 slot is actually a pretty decent one because the millers is no big hit and ABC and NBC's competition is laughable.

As for the dramas, I still hate that Bones has to end up on Fridays. I agree with you that they should give it an hiatus for now. If Almost Human really does work (and I hope it does) Bones can go to Wednesdays and they slim down the talent shows. But that won't happen and we all know it. And while I could be mad at them for not triggering down The X Factor hours for Bones, I am not sure I could make such a case with AI, as weak as it could be come spring. I also think there is a legitimate case of them wanting to strengthen fridays here which has been a problem for them for a long time.

As for what they do next year with the x factor, I have no idea. I have no clue about the costs either, which doesn't help at all. I think a big argument against them doing away with it is that it gets them back to their old problem of uneven seasons in which they need 3 shows to air in the fall that are not needed in the spring and is just messy to deal with that. A possible solution could be cutting AI hours down to two and then using one hour of reality and one hour of another limited series (a la The Following and Sleepy Hollow) to fill those time-slots in the fall, but I am not sure they are ready to go down this route, their actions don't seem to indicate so.

Spot said...

I agree, but I don't think it'll be a clear-cut decision and I wouldn't be hugely surprised if it gets a back-order and a run on Monday.
(I know it's easy to say this now today's ratings are in, but you'll have to believe me that I haven't changed my opinion from earlier!)

Spot said...

Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm expecting - back nine on Monday, see if it can build out of HoD, renew if and only if it does. Which strikes me as unlikely, but a 0.6 out of a 0.9 means I can't rule it out. This network could use more years with this level as the worst launch of the fall.

Spot said...

I'm also slightly surprised Fox hasn't put Bones on hiatus rather than moving it to Friday. I think moving Bones a statement of intent from Fox that they're serious about Fridays, and opening up Fridays has a lot of upside for a network with so little schedule space. If Bones could get mid-1s on Friday and prop up the comedy block to low-1s then that's probably worth more to Fox than Bones getting low-2s on Monday, especially since they'll probably move Sleepy Hollow to Monday at 8 next season.
I find it amazing that Fox is scheduled to air a whopping 11 different sitcoms at once next season. Has a network aired that many comedies since NBC in the late 90s?

Spot said...

Sorry, that should be "I find it amazing that Fox is scheduled to air a whopping 11 different sitcoms at once next year."

Spot said...

It's particularly impressive considering 1) how little real estate FOX has without the 10pm hour and 2) that their sitcoms are not performing that well that could not be replaced.

I agree with you that the Bones move has more to do with with working Fridays than it has to do with wanting to end the show or something like that.

Spot said...

Maybe FOX should pick up its own Back in the Game too.

Spot said...

TVD dropped so much from Halloween, so it's pretty impressive that Reign stayed steady.

Spot said...

Yeah, with Bones it seems like they were ready to give it a Friday shot - and it's the sort of show that could hold up there, it's pretty old-skewing by Fox standards (and positively dead-skewing when ABC is airing Batchelor between DWTS seasons and that out-of-demo crowd is in play) - but gave themselves until the baseball hiatus to audible out of it in case they were left with nothing acceptable on Mondays. Sleepy Hollow is, to put it mildly, acceptable - at this point it looks like being the Truly strongest newbie of the season. 9pm is locked down with a SH/Following tag team, potentially for quite a while, and now Fox know the lights are staying on on Mondays, they can see if someone other than Ramsey can keep the Friday fire burning.

Spot said...

Well, I don't think Fox was being completely sincere about Bones or Raising Hope moving to Friday back In May, but it makes a ton of sense now everything else has worked (or is at least acceptable).

Spot said...

It's perhaps unprecedented -- FOX has been axing its midseason shows.

Spot said...

But why would NBC put comedies after The Voice? It didn't work last year, and the situation hasn't changed. FOX has the same two young-skewing female-focused comedies. ABC still has two comedies of their own, but they're based on families, rather than young singles like FOX's. I'd be for them trying two offerings at 10 PM, but I don't see them doing that.

Community getting six seasons (and a movie) would be a riot to me, because it has always been a bubble show, succeeding merely by being the best of a series of bad options.

Spot said...

I actually support moving Bones to Fridays. As an older show (both in skew and the program's age), it has a more locked in audience. And given that we know Glee is ending next season, that leaves just Bones as Fox's sole September-May drama since The Following and Sleepy Hollow look to do the limited-run schedule. Therefore, the network needs to find the best primetime slots if they want shows like Almost Human and Rake to work. Those slots certainly aren't going to be on Fridays, but a show like Bones shows that Fox is more serious about being competitive on the night. Plus since it's produced by the sister studio, I think it'd take the show falling to Touch-esque levels for it to be yanked. Bottom line, I think Bones will still get at least a 10-season run even with moving to the weekend.

While the sitcoms won't get a huge Super Bowl bounce, I at least think Fox picked the right shows for it. New Girl is not going to become Grey's Anatomy which is what Fox is clearly aiming for, but the year-to-year comparisons will become better. And 9-9 will benefit from being a new show that's still seeking an audience.

If Fox starts to trim back the talent competition shows, which goes first for X-Factor? Does it shrink to one-hour per night, or two hours on one night a la Dancing with the Stars & SYTYCD? My instinct says eliminate the Thursday edition, but that's going to depend on how well Idol does this season (Fox loves the consistency of how X-Factor and Idol have the same scheduling), how well Rake does, or if there's more confidence in the limited series like Wayward Pines.

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