|Dancing with the Stars|
|Premieres September 15|
|Timeslot Occupants||Dancing with the Stars Fall||The Bachelor||Dancing with the Stars Spring|
Best Case: In 2013-14, the fast-fading Dancing with the Stars improbably reversed course with a -5% fall and, more significantly, a +2% spring. The momentum is undeniable, and at this point DWTS may just blow past its spring numbers. Adds a tenth to the spring total and posts a 2.42, up double-digits from last fall.
Worst Case: This so-called "momentum" has really only lasted for two seasons, which is less a trend and more a temporary spike in casting. DWTS will promptly return to the just-above-average level to which it had fallen in its 2012-13 seasons. Down 17% to a 1.80.
Likeliest: I'm still skeptical about just how much farther this comeback can go, but it'd be tough to call for an immediate end based on how well last season went. DWTS is probably going to have at least one more "good" season, and then maybe it'll start tailing off again in the spring. This fall averages a 2.11, down 2% from last fall.
|The Big Bang Theory|
|Premieres September 22; Moves to Thu October 30|
|Timeslot Occupants||How I Met Your Mother||2 Broke Girls|
Best Case: The finale was up year-to-year! And CBS is gonna be promoting its crown jewel even more than usual this year since it'll be asked to start off two different entertainment lineups. It picks back up the 4% lost last year, hitting 2012-13's 5.25 average.
Worst Case: It seems the trend is getting worse for this series, as last year brought the first raw numbers decline in three years. Big Bang is so entrenched on Thursday that not all of the casual audience will know about the quick Monday stop, and then even more slippage occurs when the show is jerked back to the Thursday lineup. Big Bang plummets by nearly 20% to a 4.16.
Likeliest: For almost all of last season (early weeks and finale excepted), it really looked like we were past Big Bang's raw peak. The downward trend means we're probably getting close to this behemoth's historical-adjusted peak as well. Will this be the season? I would lean toward "not quite" under normal circumstances, but the multiple moves might nick it a bit. This will be a close call. Down right around 10% to a 4.56. (Note: this is one of the few predictions that will cover multiple regular timeslots. This is for the full season, Monday + Thursday.)
|Premieres September 29|
|Timeslot Occupants||We Are Men||2 Broke Girls||Friends with Better Lives|
Best Case: Remember when Monday at 9:30 was by far the best place on TV to launch a new comedy? Those times have changed. It has shown an ability to spike when its lead-in spikes (including during summer repeat season), but it's still never had a real lead-in spike; none of its lead-ins did a 3.0+ last season. That's about to change with four weeks after The Big Bang Theory. It should comfortably hit series highs in those airings, and it's got the goods creatively to keep a low-2's volume around after BBT is gone, even building noticeably on 2 Broke Girls. It adds up to an over 15% sophomore bounce to 2.44.
Worst Case: The once-proud CBS Monday lineup has become a toxic wasteland. How I Met Your Mother's final season just masked the problem last year (and it didn't even mask it that much). 2 Broke Girls disappoints as an anchor year after year, and everything else (Mom included) is lead-in dependent. Mom will get some bounce from TBBT, but when the dust settles it'll just retain 80%ish of an ever-crumbling 2BG. Down nearly 20% to a 1.69.
Likeliest: Enough people seem to believe in this show creatively that I'm inclined to say the Big Bang exposure may help the show even over the long term. Still, it just doesn't feel like the kind of thing that a ton of people will actively seek out. I think the BBT boost will do just enough to get this show roughly matching the 2BG 8:00 rating most weeks. But it'll have a slightly higher average than 2BG because of those opening weeks. A 2.10, up a hundredth from last year.
|Premieres September 22|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Voice Mon Fall||The Voice Mon Spr|
Best Case: The Voice's ability to cast appealing people in the coach seats is simply unmatched. Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams actually represent a marked improvement on Christina and CeeLo, keeping The Voice's fall season on the improved side in Plus. It's down 5% to a 3.82.
Worst Case: This series has been trending in the wrong direction of late. Even in a good fall season, it dropped much more in the second half of the season, and then the spring season was down more than average even with what should've been very favorable scheduling. (It started earlier on the calendar and came off of Olympics promotion.) With even more competition, it'll really start to snowball this year. Down 25% to just a 3.00.
Likeliest: The momentum does not seem to be on this show's side right now, and that's not a good place to be when such a brutal Monday slate looms. The new judges may help, but probably not much. The Voice is headed for its worst year-to-year decline yet: -17% to a 3.35.
|Premieres September 22|
|Timeslot Occupants||Bones||Almost Human|
Best Case: The obvious comparison for Gotham is last year's Agents of SHIELD, which averaged a 2.39 or a 127 Plus. Gotham actually has a few clear advantages in that comparison: Batman is even more iconic than anything Marvel. The early episodes won't be blatantly hamstrung by upcoming developments in the movie universe as SHIELD was. And the late episodes... won't exist, since the order is just 16 episodes. This may be the recipe for an actual megahit drama. Holy 3.50, Batman!
Worst Case: What Gotham lacks is that immediate, close connection to an ongoing blockbuster movie universe. SHIELD's premiere rating wouldn't have been so ridiculous without that immediacy, and Gotham's won't be either. Throw in a mountain of early competition and Gotham gets off to a surprisingly modest start. Then comes the early-SHIELD problem: it's a procedural for an audience seeking something else entirely. It adds up to a front-loaded league average-ish show that may get the Almost Human treatment due to heavy costs. 1.68.
Likeliest: If Guardians of the Galaxy's success this summer with relatively obscure characters taught me anything, it was just how powerful the Marvel brand is. Gotham will open well, but the afterglow of The Avengers is something this show can't match. I expect closer to a Sleepy Hollow start here than a SHIELD start. And it will drop more post-premiere than Hollow, settling at 2.0 or just a bit south and averaging a still very good 2.25 in total. Despite some of the inevitable "disappointment" cries, it's a slam dunk renewal.
|Premieres October 6|
|Timeslot Occupants||Hart of Dixie||Star-Crossed|
Best Case: If The Originals could handle NCIS and Agents of SHIELD, it can easily handle an even lighter slot for drama. (There's also no more Pretty Little Liars on cable to contend with.) The Originals holds up much better in the second half of the season story-wise and is thus nearly even at a 0.86.
Worst Case: Now this was a bad late-season trend, from a 1.1 on January 21 to a 0.6 just three months later. It's changing nights and the pairing with megabomb-to-be Jane the Virgin doesn't make any sense. This will get reeeeeally ugly. It only brings that 0.6 to its early episodes and goes through the 0.5's and then the 0.4's as the season progresses. 0.50, down well over 40%.
Likeliest: The Worst Case stuff all seems pretty compelling here, sadly, though it will do at least a little better at each step than the trajectory I laid out. It'll manage some 0.7+'s in the fall/winter and dip to 0.5 toward the end. But the 0.64 average is still down nearly 30% (even if it's a massive improvement to the timeslot).
|Monday Night Football||ESPN||9/8||5.18||+2%|
The Network to Watch: They're actually all pretty interesting here, but I'll take Fox's dip in the comic book pool.
The Picks: I am trying Gotham, plus the few Monday weeks of The Big Bang Theory. I might check in at some point on how much Mom has improved.