Friday, May 2, 2014

CW True Power Rankings, May 2014

The upfront extravaganza is finally here! Every weekday for the next three weeks, this blog will have a meaty piece of coverage surrounding the annual schedule releases. It starts this week with the season's final edition of the True Power Rankings, the SHOW-centric half of the upfront preview, digging deep into the merits of individual shows by network. Next week come the Upfront Questions, the SCHEDULE-centric look ahead to upfront week. The following week, the schedules come out, and with them come the Upfront Answers.

The True/A18-49 averages cover the last one-third of aired episodes this season through April 27, rounded up.

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

The CWTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Big Four
1The Vampire Diaries1.090.8958%-17%7
4The Originals0.880.7657%7

The CW has had a pretty rough spring, and the big four have been no exception. But isn't this just what happens in spring? Or does this go beyond normal spring declines? A quick analysis in each case:

The Vampire Diaries: 1.30 True average before the new year, 1.12 True since. More specifically, a sub-1 True average over the last three weeks. This one is pretty worrisome. There's no realistic way of doing this that would grade the consistent 1.3's in the fall and the 0.7/0.8's of late as the same show. And this has been gradual across the season, not a sudden plunge off a cliff; there was a 0.9/1.0/1.1 stretch in the middle. If I had to pick one show that seems to have been legitimately damaged across the season, I'd pick TVD. It still grades as the network's strongest show, but the margin is thinner.

Arrow: 1.04 True before the new year, 0.96 True since. Not good, but not as extreme as TVD. The higher-end March and April True scores at least match up with the lower-end fall True scores, which is certainly not the case with TVD.

Supernatural: 0.98 True before the new year, 0.95 True since. The 0.7 demo rating (and 0.73 True) on April 15 was on a TVD level of weirdness, but based on the last couple weeks it seems to have been a pure blip. (Throw out that point and SPN has a 0.98 True since the new year, matching its fall average.)

The Originals: 0.98 True before the new year, 0.91 True since. This one declined in raw numbers from a 1.1 as late as January 21 all the way to an ugly 0.6 three months later. But the formula didn't think most of this drop was all that severe. The 0.7 raw ratings on 3/18 and 4/15 had True scores that roughly matched the lowest Trues in the fall (with 0.9 raw ratings). There was no such consolation for the 0.6 on April 22, which was decidedly weaker than any previous point. But given The Originals' bounce-back to 0.8 this week, I'm hopeful that 0.6 was just a blip along the lines of Supernatural's 0.7.

How meaningful is any of this? Maybe there's some sort of tweak to the formula that could account for "resiliency," because it seems like a lot of older-skewing shows hold up better late in the season, and thus rise in True. Shows across Fox and the CW seem to decline in True. Perhaps the formula should "allow" younger-skewing shows to drop more across the season. I don't know how big this adjustment should be, so the main point for today is that we can at least measure these drops relative to each other. The Vampire Diaries seems to have gotten genuinely weaker, Supernatural seems totally undamaged, and the other two are somewhere in the middle.

The CWTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Race for Returnee #5 (And #6?)
5Whose Line Is It Anyway?0.670.4339%-49%3
7The 1000.560.5539%2

Reign has undergone its own bout of late-season softness. Most of what it's done lately still roughly matches up in True with some of the lowest early fall results, so it's more like an Arrow/Originals than a Vampire Diaries in that respect. But this one seems more disappointing because it seemed to be picking up some steam literally just a month ago (four of its five biggest True scores were in the month of March).

Could this Secret Circle-esque April slide mean that The 100 could beat out Reign for the fifth returnee slot on the first four nights of the week? It's possible, but I'm not heavily inclined in either direction yet. The 100 is a likely renewal, but it still skews quite old by this network's standards, so the network may be a bit more down on it than the perception. If it can hang at 0.6 and maybe see Reign post another 0.4 for good measure, I could get more on board with The 100.

But there's also another possibility: both get on the first four nights. The network's usually had three new series on the first four nights in recent years, but with Reign and The 100 both viable options, the network's got more depth than usual. This #5 and #6 seem at least a bit stronger than what was actually their #5 option from last year (Beauty and the Beast). They also have fewer pilots, and the reception to Supernatural spin-off Bloodlines seems to have been more negative than expected. So we'll see.

As a general principle, I don't see much of a need for either of these shows to leave their current timeslots if they return in the fall. The big four are tightly packed enough size-wise that stability is better than worrying about "wasting" one of the biggest lead-ins. But I could see an exception if both make it to the fall first four nights. Not sure I'd want to have sophomores after both of the most entrenched anchors, so I could see one of them ending up on Monday. (Supernatural into The 100?)

The CWTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Low-Priority Candidates
8America's Next Top Model0.490.4246%-16%5
9The Tomorrow People0.450.4047%7
10The Carrie Diaries0.400.3448%-32%5
12Hart of Dixie0.360.2946%-36%7
13Beauty and the Beast0.340.3048%-53%6

Probably only one renewal for the five scripted shows here, and Hart of Dixie seems the heavy favorite. Call it syndication or the CW's final season tendency. Just don't call it a ratings advantage, because there isn't one.

To revisit my The Carrie Diaries scenario from February: Not a single person that I've seen with any insider-y connections gives the show a chance, so it'd be pretty stupid to come out and say it's gonna happen. Would the CW have renewed TCD last year if they had The 100? Probably not, and that's basically the situation that The 100's decent numbers have left TCD in this year. (And even The Tomorrow People on Monday has remained a higher-grading alternative in True.) Because of its solid 18-34 numbers, I'm still higher on the show than most, and if the non-ratings factors didn't exist, I'd rather have it than Hart of Dixie. But I think it can only sneak through if the HoD renewal blows up somehow, and/or the network puts an even more extreme than expected premium on younger demos.

Enjoyed this "most surprising renewal" poll at TVBTN. It really got me thinking. But Beauty and the Beast, which EW continues to believe in, would perhaps top 'em all (well, maybe except for 'Til Death). I mean, even a fringe candidate like The Tomorrow People was able to step in, later in the season and with a weaker 8:00 lead-in, and go a tenth higher than BatB. Come on! This show would be some genuine evidence for those that think ratings don't matter anymore.

The CWTrueA18-49Skewy2yCounted Eps
The Dunzo


Spot said...

Big 4 separated themselves from the rest of the pack right out of the gate.

Reign - if nowadays there weren't sources reporting W18-34 ratings, it would be head scratching why The CW is so preferring this one to The Tomorrow People. As it is, thanks to SonOfTheBronx and others, we know after 13 episodes Reign was at around 0.8 W18-34, and TPP at 0.62 A18-49. That 30% gap explains everything, well deserved renewal.
Now, problem is it seems Reign back 9 episodes are going to average only around 0.55 W18-34. That's big 30% drop compared to the first 13, and show that seemed to have fair shot at 66+ episodes, ever more and more looks alike Beauty and the Beast (44 episodes, out of which 9 as summer burn off). Hopefully that worst case scenario doesn't come to true, but, same as CW, we can only wait and see.

The 100 - Renew 100%. After 7 episodes, and with only one more episode to air before upfronts, A18-49 average is at 0.64. The Tomorrow People was at 0.68 after 7 episodes, but it had average lead-in of 0.98, and The 100 only 0.73, plus PUT was slightly higher back then in the fall. However, I think they'll again push it to midseason. Why? I think now CW knows what ratings The 100 is capable to produce next season. I'd say it's 0.6 average in fall, maybe 0.5 or 0.7, and perhaps a tick or so lower in midseason. So why they wouldn't sample 3 new dramas already in the fall? Thus they would have even more clear picture comes time they need to make midseason schedule.

As for The Tomorrow People, I actually see it virtually equally strong as Hart Of Dixie and The Carrie Diaries are. Current ratings are
0.53 A18-49 - The Tomorrow People, with 2/3 of the season in good Wed 9 PM timeslot.
0.50 W18-34 - The Carrie Diaries, in tough Friday timeslot.
0.48 W18-34 - Hart of Dixie, with 2/3 of the season in not good Monday timeslot, and last third on very tough post-DST Friday.

They need to renew only one out of three, and HoD clearly wins based on episodes count (66 compared to 22 / 26 of other two). But it would be really interesting without that factor, probably it would be the case where network actually decides based on marginal factors, like streaming services revenue, or international revenue. Those might even not be so marginal for relatively cheap CW shows, but surely differences between shows in the same tier must be marginal. Anyway, I'm pretty much sure Netflix values Hod episode by far the most among those three - so it's academical only.

America's Next Top Model is still holding well in W18-34. Unconfirmed source says average W18-34 ratings for last cycle was 0.68, which is much better than 0.44 in A18-49. It's not in summer schedule CW published, they announced all premiere dates up to (including) August 1st there. Still I doubt it's back to airing entirely in regular season. I think ANTM probably will premiere in 2nd half of August (with season finale week or two before Thanskgiving), but it might be early September with season finale in December. Doesn't really matter for other shows - if it's season finale is November, then during December they probably would test how well new shows repeat on Friday .

Spot said...

If you look at the whole season of The Vampire Diaries, it's pretty much doing what Spot predicted. Unfortunately, it's happened pretty much since DST kicked in. Some of it is, I think, a result of the quality of the show going downhill. It's been a real scattershot year with a lack of something truly unifying (the Traveler plotline does not cut it for me). But I think another issue is the haphazard scheduling. After the new year it's been a few weeks on, a few weeks off. I thought the rationale of debuting shows in October was to avoid doing that.

I agree with the notion that if both Reign and The 100 are on the fall schedule that one of them should move. The 100 is in a very tough timeslot so The CW may take the flyer and focus on Mondays. But Reign moving to Mondays would feel like Beauty and the Beast all over again. I'm inclined to think The 100 is in contention for a midseason slot, especially if Hart of Dixie gets less than 22 episodes to wrap it up, and Reign says put.

Is Bloodlines the new NCIS: Red? I have to think that the reception would have to be that bad for The CW to not pick it up, or its other pilots are markedly better. I don't watch Supernatural, but from what I gleaned the family angle of Bloodlines would be a good fit with The Originals.

Any scripted show other than Hart of Dixie from the low-priority list is about those financials that we don't see. The Carrie Diaries has a strong online presence and those strong younger demos while Beauty and the Beast sells very well overseas. Do I think those should be enough of a difference on the balance scale to tip it towards renewal? No. This isn't The CW of last year that was essentially a mine field of bombs outside of Arrow, TVD, and Supernatural.

One other point: an additional non-ratings advantage that TCD and Hart of Dixie have is helping The CW not go completely genre across every night. Excepting Reign, the Monday through Thursday shows involve witches, vampires, aliens, superheroes, and/or werewolves while the Friday shows are more "realistic" (or less fantastical). And next season could add zombies to the mix (iZombie, possibly the worst titled pilot this deelopment cycle)! It's essentially the inverse of the Dawn Ostroff era of development and scheduling when Smallville and Supernatural were banished to Fridays. Don't know how much that counts for something with Pedowitz, but something that we may need to be attuned to.

Spot said...

2014-15 schedule:


The Originals
Supernatural: Bloodlines

The Flash

Vampire Diaries
New Drama

Top Model

Midseason would include The 100 somewhere and Hart of Dixie on Friday. If it stars in November it can do a Mike & Molly esque season with a late start 22 episode season. Supernatural is best as a lead out and I think the Flash will have enough initial interest to not need Arrow and give Arrow a boost. Arrow saw 1.2 when The Flash was introduced

Spot said...

When people are already doing mock schedules...

Mon: Supernatural / Flash
Tue: Originals / SPN: Bloodlines
Wed: Arrow / iZombie (or Messengers)
Thu: The Vampire Diaries / Reign
Fri: Hart of Dixie / ANTM

In midseason, the worst rated Mon-Thu shows gets summer burn off. Or simply doesn't get back 9 order, if it's a newbie.
2nd worst goes to Friday with "Whose Line".
Those two emptied weekday slots go to The 100, and Identity (or Jane the Virgin).

Note: "Whose Line" theoretically could be the one ending up in summer - but for that to happen all 8 Mon-Thu shows should outdo its 0.5 A18-49 (probably even to do over 0.6 as those 0.5 are on Friday). What are the chances?

Flash - It looked as a lock to be picked all the time. CW will pair it with veteran A18-49 targeting show, and only other candidate is Arrow. Which is nowadays weaker than Supernatural, so there you have it. They're really overdue to try and fix Mondays, and this more male oriented combo (read: less female oriented than typical CW shows) looks like the best bet to accomplish it. 9 PM only because I'm assuming Fox will have Gotham at Monday 8 PM, with S.H.I.E.L.D. at Tuesday 8 PM. So, it's not set in stone, Flash could end at more natural 8 PM (with SPN on, for it, more logical 9 PM), or even on Tuesday, all depending on how other networks will schedule their superhero shows.

Supernatural - They refused to move it to 8 PM so far, as it is kinda gore. But aging SPN will be scheduled depending on Flash timeslot, and not the other way around. So it will be paired with Flash, but depending on where Flash lands, SPN could end on either of 4 Mon/Tue timeslots.

To be continued...

Spot said...


The Originals - No need to move their 2nd strongest slot (averages 1.12 in W18-34). In fact, I think they'll launch new W18-34 friendly show behind it, because this season TO did literally miracles for SPN W18-34 ratings (around 30% up). And, I think they're tired of TVD audience not really caring about lead-out show (after initial few episodes, at least). For that reason, I'm speculating this time around they'll try to launch new female oriented drama on Tuesday.

SPN: Bloodlines - I think they'll pick it up for fall, simply because other two girly options (Identity; Jane the Virgin) look even worse. This show will be much more similar to Originals, than to original SPN, so it surely gets lead-in of, either TVD, either The Originals. If it's in fall schedule at all.

Arrow - There were some ugly weeks, but there were also some good, so it's less than 15% down y2y. Then, I really don't see why would they move it. Maybe only if they want to give this slot to Flash (and move Arrow to 9 PM), but I'd say it's unlikely. Especially as it seems Pedowitz doesn't like to pair spinoffs with motherboard show.

iZombie - Next fall CW again will pair Arrow with some male oriented show. So it will be one of iZombie / Messengers / The 100. My mock schedule says iZombie, because Deadline says that pilot is testing well. As Deadline has some sources, and I have none - I'll trust them on that.
Note: with The 100 likely renewed, and Flash very likely picked, they won't pick both iZombie, and Messengers. They need only one of two, and they'll pick only one.

The Vampire Diaries - With both Monday and Friday still being problematic, CW has absolutely no reason to move around their strongest shows for the sake of move. Yes, I'm proposing moving Supernatural, but that's for making more compatible pairings. Otherwise, I wouldn't suggest that move.

Reign - Will remain behind TVD by pure luck, and not because being CW brass pet, or something like that. Now that Arrow, and The Originals are both capable to provide decent lead-in to a new drama, The CW finally has luxury not to put newbie behind TVD. So far, it made no favor to those lead-outs, anyway. My line of thought: I expect CW to premiere 3 new dramas in fall. As Flash is a lock, it sounds logical other two would consist of one female oriented, and one male oriented. If so, then Flash / male-oriented should be paired with Supernatural / Arrow, that's most compatible. Then there's only one rookie left to be put behind other 2 members of big 4. Then surely one of Originals / TVD will lead into returning drama. That's a fact, while that one being TVD is just my opinion.

To be continued...

Spot said...


Hart of Dixie - 10 to 11 episodes final season order. Recent ratings are... lousy, no need to understate it. So I think anything above 13 episodes would be crazy.
About 10 to 11. There's 5 Fridays in October, 3 in November (4 minus Thanksgiving weekend), and 3 in December (4 minus Christmas week). Could be a bit less, or a bit more (if premiere is in September, or finale in January). But I'm predicting this very narrow range, so I can brag if it turns out I'm right about it. I'd be right by pure luck, of course, but that wouldn't stop me from bragging.

ANTM - Will premiere in late summer, with season finale in November. December at latest.

Whose Line - This show had proven it's good enough for summer, and for midseason backup, too. But it's not enough strong for Mon-Thu schedule. If somehow everything works great next fall, it could be even pushed to summer.

The 100 - I think it goes to midseason, because that would allow CW to sample 3 new shows already in fall. But it could be fall, paired with Arrow or Supernatural (one that's not paired with Flash), and in that case one of (but not both!) iZombie and Messengers would be picked as a midseason show.

Identity - The 100 is backup for male-oriented shows, but they need one for female oriented shows, too. I think it will be Identity. Simply, because there's only two candidates, and premise of Jane the Virgin sounds plain stupid. But, yes, "W18-34 friendly, midseason backup" could also be Jane the Virgin. Both? No way, they'll pick just one. It would be too expensive to pile up backups, which would be useful only in the worst case scenario = all new shows except for Flash being flops + Reign collapsing. In all other scenarios 2 backup dramas + Whose Line are enough for midseason. In mentioned worst case, they would probably put Whose Line at Mon-Thu, have regularly scheduled repeat at Fri 8 PM, and least awful among 3 losers would be at Fri 9 PM (if ratings are equally bad, then Reign, because it already has 22 episodes order).

4 new dramas it is. Probably 3 in fall, but maybe only 2 in fall.


Spot said...

I could totally see your schedule working out for them. I think it is fair to make mock schedules now that it is nearly the upfronts, so we know a bunch of renewals, cancellation, and the possible pilots. We seem to agree The Originals and Bloodlines are a good pair. I still think the Flash could do best at 8. Avoiding Shield and Gotham are key though.

Spot said...

Just want to thank you for doing these as they're always fun to read, but it's incredibly tough to formulate an insightful response when I agree with you on pretty much everything!

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