Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fall 2014 Best Case/Worst Case, Sunday 8/7c

Best Case/Worst Case moves to the Sunday 8/7c hour, a usually stable hour in which some major changes are happening this year. The Amazing Race departs after eight years on Sunday, and it's been nine since Fox does what it does this year: open the fall with a live-action comedy at 8:30.

Once Upon a Time
Premieres September 28
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.19 -20% solid 2.21 -1% Sunday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsOnce Upon a Time
Avg Orig Avg
2.21 2.06 2.19 2.21

Best Case: Last season of Once Upon a Time was really two different seasons, and the second one went a lot better. The fall season was massively down from fall 2012, often a third or more. And the spring season was close to exactly even. The injection of Frozen, a big-time movie franchise that is a perfect fit on this show, will only keep up (maybe even accelerate) the positive momentum. CBS gets much weaker with their Madam Secretary experiment. Even if it starts to taper off late in the year, it's just above even at 2.25.

Worst Case: Frozen may be a hot brand in pop culture, but that also means it carries big expectations. The Once Upon a Time version doesn't even come close to meeting those, so the fall season collapses early and ends up down more than average. Then comes another terrible storyline in the second half, which goes massively behind the good numbers from last spring. Down 27% to 1.60.

Likeliest: It's hard to imagine Frozen being more of a misfire than Once's months of trudging through a dark forest last fall. Combine that with a solid finish to last season and I doubt the fall run will be down average or more. The unknown is where Once goes in the second half of the season. Keeping up the very strong spring 2014 pace would be a challenge, so sight unseen I'll say that falls off somewhat and is down a bit more than average. It adds up to just a hair less than a league average drop at 1.98.

Madam Secretary (NEW!)
Premieres September 21

Timeslot OccupantsThe Amazing Race Fall The Amazing Race Spring
Avg Orig Avg
2.17 2.15 1.93 1.81 1.75 1.95

Best Case: This is some extremely smart scheduling by CBS, and they'll get rewarded for it. The people who stick around for 60 Minutes after the NFL is over are also the exact people who would be interested in Madam Secretary. Enough of the NFL samplers stick around that it does a few ticks better than The Good Wife even when the NFL isn't on, and that's more than good enough for renewal given the affluent audience. 1.70.

Worst Case: You know you're a long shot when your ratings ceiling is "another The Good Wife" and just getting to that point requires an Emmy nomination level of quality. This show doesn't have that kind of quality, or even the quality of USA's ratings-challenged Political Animals from a couple years back. And it's apparent very early. Even on NFL nights, it does no better than its Good Wife lead-out, and it's a huge black hole in the Sunday lineup when it doesn't. 0.90 and gone in a month.

Likeliest: As I said in May, I do think this scheduling was ingenious, basically the only way it could've had any chance at all. So I'm kinda rooting for it to work just for that reason. But I still think it's a long shot. It's such an old-skewing concept that the ratings ceiling is low, and it's hard to make a bet on it being as good as TGW. The NFL will help this show have a slightly better average than The Good Wife, but it'll be the Sunday weak link when the NFL isn't on. CBS will ride it out for much of the fall, but there are enough reserves that they'll shake it up in the winter. 1.32.

Sunday Night Football
Premieres September 4
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
7.90 -3% megahit 7.22 +9% Sunday 8:30

Timeslot OccupantsFootball Night p3 Sunday Night Football American Dream Builders
Avg Orig Avg
3.58 0.90 4.15 3.73 7.85 7.01 0.72 0.93

Best Case: The franchise has been down in raw numbers for the last two years, and by NFL standards that's "underachievement." It will even out from that and return to its 8.36 raw numbers zenith from two years ago, marking a +6% season.

Worst Case: The NFL has simply reached a point where it can't really grow anymore. And in fact, a rather discouraging preseason suggests it may be on a cultural downturn. A third major primetime package on Thursday oversaturates the NFL market. Sunday Night Football drops about in line with entertainment programming, if not a bit more, down over 10% to 7.00.

Likeliest: Preseason returns are not exactly encouraging, but they're probably not all that meaningful either. Still, factor in that and the added Thursday games and I think the year-to-year trend will continue to ever-so-slightly worsen. But I can't see it getting down into entertainment programming decline territory. Down about 4.5% to a 7.55.

The Simpsons
Premieres September 28
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.22 -11% solid 2.02 +10% Sunday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Simpsons
Avg Orig Avg
3.78 2.37 2.30 2.07

Best Case: FXX's very buzzy #EverySimpsonsEver marathon has totally reinvigorated the interest in this show, and the NFL boosts the show gets in the fall are increasingly powerful. It breaks even at a 2.22, posting its highest A18-49+ in the era.

Worst Case: Actually, FXX's #EverySimpsonsEver marathon just reminded people how much the quality has declined over the years, and previous viewers of new Simpsons episodes actually start eschewing those in favor of the repeats on FXX and the app. Down 18% to 1.82.

Likeliest: I don't really see the Simpsons buzz from this summer having much of a net impact. Maybe it's a very tiny positive one. Because of the slightly more powerful NFL boost, it's down just a tad less than league average to 2.01.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Premieres September 28
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.50 marginal 1.54 -2% Tuesday 8:30

Timeslot OccupantsBob's Burgers Family Guy
Avg Orig Avg
3.71 2.11 1.98 1.61 2.16 2.24

Best Case: This show fits like a glove in Fox's male-skewing Sunday environment, with a brand of humor much better-suited than previous family comedy efforts like The War at Home. It has retention in line with the best animated comedies Fox has had here recently, which creates a massive bounce to 1.87.

Worst Case: This basically has the same kind of dynamic with The Simpsons as Arrested Development did ten years ago, meaning 65%-ish retention. But it doesn't build Arrested-esque buzz, so it even goes a little lower late in the season. It could go as low as 1.23 for the full season (but if it's this ugly, it's more likely it gets bumped into the 7:00 hour with Bob's Burgers upgraded to 8:30).

Likeliest: This feels like a redux of the Arrested Development move after The Simpsons, in which the show gets a ratings upgrade but not so much of one that Fox feels great about the move. However, Brooklyn had better ratings in a considerably worse situation than season one of Arrested, so it will be stronger on the whole here. I think it does better in Plus than last season but still a little over a tenth worse than something like Bob's Burgers would've done. Down 3% to a 1.45. Renewal may come down to whether the new regime likes it as much as Kevin Reilly did.

The Basics:

bc Rank y2y Rank TPUT Rank bc/TPUT Rank
Sunday 8:00 11.3 2 -3% 10 35.9 2 32% 2

The Network to Watch: I'll take CBS with the newbie, but Fox's live-action experiment is close behind.

The Picks: Once Upon a Time and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I'll try out the Madam Secretary pilot, but I'd be surprised if it could knock either of the above off of a DVR tuner.


Spot said...

Again, our predictions are ridiculously close. So far, excluding the ABC comedy duo on Tuesday, our biggest disagreement was Mom and that was just 7%.

Anyway, here we go:
- Once Upon a Time: 1.97! As you can see, it's exactly the same as yours. I like to believe this is a positive prediction because I do feel optimistic about this season. Like you though, I had troubles predicting the entire season since it feels like we are judging two different seasons, one of which we know nothing about story-wise. Still, it has most things going for it so it should avoid dropping in Plus.
- Madam Secretary: 1.38, which is pretty close to yours again. My number is slightly higher but that's just because I am actually a bit more pessimistic and I am assuming the show will be gone by November sweeps. I think that if there was ever a slot in which this show could have a chance, this would be it, but it still needs a lot to work even in these favorable conditions so I am saying no.
- B99: 1.40. Boringly similar again. I say it's all about retention from the simpsons.One thing to watch out about this show is that it was actually doing a good job when paired with the low rated and not that much compatible Dads, which it was no longer able to do when paired with the similar rated yet even more incompatible New Girl. To me, that kind of indicates that this show needs a male show to pair with, so by that logic, it would have a very good shot here. I adore this show creatively so I would really like to see it thrive on this slot, I hope my number is too pessimistic.

Spot said...

The Simpsons didn't seem to decline in ratings during the later seasons of the marathon, so I don't see that being a big factor.
I see Brooklyn Nine-Nine growing from last year. Simpsons should be stronger than Dads and more compatible than New Girl.
I see Once being strong in the fall, but slump in the spring
Madam Secretary has no chance. Its lead out hit a freakin' 1.1 last season with an okay lead in and its lead in is 60 Minutes. Pulled by November

Spot said...

Today I tried to prepare my thoughts in advance. Like, not to be influenced by Spot's post. Yet, for all 4 shows my prediction is at most a tenth different from Spot's "likely" number.

The Simpsons : I don't know Simpsons M18-34 numbers. But considering ad rates this show gets... must be good, and even fabulous when Fox is having late afternoon NFL game.
Back to A18-49. According to Spot's "The War of 18-49" page, for each of last 3 seasons veteran is down just a bit above league average. Then this is easy, around 1.95 A18-49.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine : Hard to say, spring numbers suggest pessimism, while improved lead-in points into opposite direction. Let's say worst 1.10, best 1.60, and likely 1.35. Yes, a see it a bit down - because if post-SB exposure didn't help B99, then I doubt Simpsons can propel it. Or anything.
However, I suppose Fox will judge B99 on its M18-34 ratings. If B99 happens to do well in that demo, that might save it from cancellation. Sadly, probably no one will care to report those, again.

Once Upon a Time : Last spring authors showed ability to stop the bleeding through some gimmicks. Frozen crossover, or whatever is their next trick, now I trust their competence. But I really cannot expect serialized broadcast show to go up in its 4th season, so my likely is 2.00.

Madam Secretary - I'm pessimistic, because I cannot see where from viewers would come. It would make this post rather long to to elaborate that, so let's just say only similarity with The Good Wife is the female lead. However, TGW has some really well written female characters (which is shamefully rare in TV landscape), and is actually quality show. I doubt "Madam" has the same, so my best/likely/worst = 1.50/1.25/1.00.

Spot said...

The Simpsons has actually had some success launching live action comedy in the past. Like That '70s Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and Arrested Developement. So I think Brooklyn has a shot!

Spot said...

My picks: The Simpsons is one of my all time favorites and I liked Brooklyn Nine-Nine last year. I might check out Once during the baseball hiatus though

Spot said...

"months of trudging through a dark forest"

How could anyone not see that plotline for the interminable storytelling hell that it was always destined to be? And what gives one faith that Frozen won't equal out to months of trudging thru a barren ice land?

As for my own picks, Brooklyn Nine Nine starts out on DVR only for the time being due to the lack of anything to pair it w/, while Madam Secretary gets a live trial. If Secretary sucks, then I'll just zombie-watch The Simpsons and upgrade Nine Nine to live.

Spot said...

It's hard to even DVR Madam Secretary unless you record the Good Wife too. Bedause of the overruns. Unless you're one of those lucky west coasters

Spot said...

If Once Upon a Time can keep up the good storytelling with the Frozen plotline, it could encourage new viewers to continue watching into the Spring. I'm cautiously optimistic based on how they treated their take on The Wizard of Oz.

I don't know which will be the bigger wildcard between Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Madam Secretary. Fox is upsetting a very entrenched brand in Animation Domination for 9-9, while CBS wants to really confound the 18-49 demo gods. I honestly think CBS really is giving up on Sundays for the ratings win and has decided to go all in on shepherding "prestige" products (60 Minutes, The Good Wife, Madam Secretary) to awards while not damaging the rest of the week's schedule, and doing a solid to an older, creaky procedural that's a money-maker for the production studio (CSI, CSI: Miami, The Mentalist).

As for 9-9, at least Fox is giving it closer proximity to the NFL afternoon game lead-in and dodging The Walking Dead when it returns later in the Fall. It may end up competing against New Girl and The Mindy Project for renewal since I don't think Fox will want to have zero live-action comedy veterans coming into 2015-2016.

My pick: Once Upon a Time

Spot said...

Probably should've said "On Demand" then, cause that's actually how I watched Good Wife (and Mentalist) last season.

Spot said...

I can understand the roommate thing. I am relatively new to having a roommate. We have one TV and no DVR. Sometimes I want to watch TV and he wants to play his Xbox. Technically its *his* TV, so I let it slide.

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