With another season about to start, it's time to take a look back at some of the many predictions made around here last year. Today, the highlights and lowlights from the First Two Weeks posts, in which I use just two (or three) weeks of ratings to make a renew/cancel call on new scripted series.
Here's the full list of guesses:
Sleepy Hollow - RENEW - CORRECT
Dads - CANCEL - CORRECT
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - defer -> CANCEL - INCORRECT
Hostages - CANCEL - CORRECT
The Blacklist - RENEW - CORRECT
Lucky 7 - CANCEL - CORRECT
Mom - RENEW - CORRECT
Agents of SHIELD - RENEW - CORRECT
Trophy Wife - CANCEL - CORRECT
The Goldbergs - defer -> RENEW - CORRECT
Back in the Game - RENEW - INCORRECT
The Michael J. Fox Show - RENEW - INCORRECT
The Crazy Ones - RENEW - INCORRECT
Betrayal - CANCEL - CORRECT
We Are Men - CANCEL - CORRECT
Ironside - CANCEL - CORRECT
Super Fun Night - defer -> CANCEL - CORRECT
Welcome to the Family - CANCEL - CORRECT
The Millers - RENEW - CORRECT
Sean Saves the World - CANCEL - CORRECT
The Originals - RENEW - CORRECT
The Tomorrow People - RENEW - INCORRECT
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland - CANCEL - CORRECT
Reign - CANCEL - INCORRECT
Dracula - defer -> CANCEL - CORRECT
Almost Human - RENEW - INCORRECT
The Assets - CANCEL - CORRECT
Intelligence - CANCEL - CORRECT
Killer Women - CANCEL - CORRECT
Chicago PD - defer -> RENEW - CORRECT
Enlisted - CANCEL - CORRECT
Rake - CANCEL - CORRECT
Star-Crossed - CANCEL - CORRECT
Mind Games - CANCEL - CORRECT
Mixology - CANCEL - CORRECT
About a Boy - RENEW - CORRECT
Growing Up Fisher - CANCEL - CORRECT
Resurrection - RENEW - CORRECT
Believe - CANCEL - CORRECT
Crisis - CANCEL - CORRECT
The 100 - defer -> RENEW - CORRECT
Surviving Jack - CANCEL - CORRECT
Friends with Better Lives - CANCEL - CORRECT
Bad Teacher - CANCEL - CORRECT
FINAL RECORD: 37-7 (84%)
Once again, the record improved by an insignificant amount, from 82% last year, 80% two years ago and 75% three years ago.
The record was 5-1 on the shows deferred to week three. The deferral was generally a positive here; I think week three added considerable clarity on Super Fun Night, Dracula and Chicago PD. The only one that it really hurt was Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I don't regret saying "cancel" after week three; why defer if I was going to say "renew" after a four-tenths drop in week three? But I was pretty close to saying "renew" after week two, and then week three happened to be probably the bleakest point renewal prospects-wise in the history of the show. So if there was a "mistake," it was in deferring, not in what I did after the deferral. And I don't think deferring was that big a mistake; week three was just kinda unlucky, much like week two of Chicago Fire last year. It happens.
As always, what I'm most interested in is how 84% compares to waiting till May and predicting based on the full body of work. This season had surprisingly few May surprises among the new class. All seven of the misses seemed to be leaning toward the other direction with all the info at
the end of the season. The two least certain shows at the end (at least from my
view) were actually shows I got right after two weeks: Growing Up Fisher and Friends with Better Lives.
But I think The Michael J. Fox Show
was the only miss whose ratings went 100% in the other
direction looking just at the ratings and not the various scheduling tea
leaves. There were a few other shows (Back in the Game, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Reign) whose fates were announced in the other direction well before the upfront, but they were not exactly runaway mortal ratings locks at the time of those decisions. Back in the Game didn't even get an episode extension, but it was still stronger than Trophy Wife, and I guess ABC just decided to take a flier on the buzzier show that they owned. And shows like The Tomorrow People, The Crazy Ones and Almost Human were not that far away from the bubble either. I thought Almost Human should've been renewed, for whatever little that's worth, but I was not optimistic about it happening based on the scheduling.
One thing I've frequently noted in the past is how rotten my record is with CW fall series. For some reason, the narrative frequently seems to shift in the second half of the fall. It happened again with The Tomorrow People and Reign. The 1-2 record on those shows drops me to a truly ghastly 4-7 with CW fall series! If this happens again with Flash and Jane the Virgin, which seem even clearer going in than most of these shows, it may be time to throw in the towel.
The whole point of these posts was to push back at the "conventional wisdom" that you need many weeks or months to be able to tell where a show is at. Having been at 80%ish for four years, slightly above that with the deferral option added, I think it's pretty clear that this is about the level of accuracy that I can achieve in two weeks. It's somewhat variable how that compares to the percentage at the end of the year, but overall the percentage at the end of the year is still well shy of 100%. So I've kinda made my point here, however strong you think that point may be.
I would like to switch this up somehow in the coming season, either introducing more of a game aspect (perhaps assigning confidence points) and/or expanding it to create a model of the accuracy across all of the early weeks (week one, week three, week four, etc.). I don't really want to abandon it completely, because I still think the early weeks of new shows are the most interesting thing about day-to-day ratings. Any ideas?