|Premieres September 28|
Best Case: It may have had a short first season, but it's also getting back on the air quickly, unlike other sophomore slumpers like The Following and Under the Dome. It will air the season much earlier on the calendar this year, and it also gets a head start this time on its most formidable competitor (The Walking Dead). So it surges back to a mid-2's premiere and settles above a 2.0 after TWD is in play. 2.26, down 10% to the same Plus as last season.
Worst Case: No, it wasn't off for eight or nine months like other limited series. But it also had a much more disturbing trend within its very short season one run, dropping a full half of its premiere audience in just six weeks. This would have been a very shaky renewal even if the order had just a few more episodes, and everybody bails over the hiatus. Opens at a new series low and settles in the low-1's, averaging a 1.40 (down 44%). For the full season, this may be a bubble-ish average, but the trend is bad enough that it gets canned.
Likeliest: It's not quite the same situation as The Following and Under the Dome but I think the huge drops within season one were drastic enough that it cancels out some of the benefits Resurrection has. The trend will be similar. It comes back toward the low end of season one results and settles in the mid-1's. It's still an improvement on Revenge, and that may well get it another season, but that 3.8 premiere is a very distant memory. Down 32% to 1.71.
|The Good Wife|
|Premieres September 21|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Good Wife|
Best Case: The Good Wife held up OK last year even as The Amazing Race had two bad cycles. And though Madam Secretary probably isn't going to get the same 18-49 rating as The Amazing Race, it's much more compatible with both The Good Wife and 60 Minutes, helping more viewers flow from the NFL inflation all the way into the 9:00 hour. It stays even at 1.42.
Worst Case: I don't watch this show but the last season seemed well-reviewed even by The Good Wife standards. A jumping of the shark quality-wise is bound to happen eventually. Throw in the epic disaster that is Madam Secretary leading in, a little more competition from Resurrection in the fall, and it's down 22% to 1.11. Finally, it's dunzo.
Likeliest: I don't think the Madam Secretary shake-up will be much of a difference-maker, as I'm not sure TGW was ever that compatible with The Amazing Race anyway. And I'm not projecting Madam to be around the whole season anyway. Continues its slow ratings descent by dropping 13% to 1.24.
|Sunday Night Football|
|Premieres September 4|
|Timeslot Occupants||Sunday Night Football||Believe|
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.
|Premieres September 28|
|2.34||-13%||solid||2.33||+0%||Sun 9:00, Sun 8:30|
|Timeslot Occupants||Family Guy||Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey|
Best Case: The 8:30 episodes hurt the average last year. It's back at 9/8c permanently, and it may benefit somewhat from a crossover with The Simpsons. Down just 4% to a 2.25.
Worst Case: It's surrounded by live-action comedies, which will weaken the flow of the night in general. It will be a lot tougher for this series with a Brooklyn Nine-Nine lead-in. Down 23% to a 1.80.
Likeliest: If the live-action shows really do poorly enough to derail the whole night, Fox will likely reinstall Bob's Burgers at 8:30 and premiere Bordertown at 9:30. So if it's a major problem, it won't be a major problem for all that long. Still, I think it'll be enough of a problem to keep it from doing much better than last year's decline, even if it's at 9:00 all year. -13% to 2.04.
|Premieres October 5|
|Timeslot Occupants||American Dad!||Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey|
Best Case: John Mulaney is a TV star waiting to happen. Remember how stoked the media was when NBC first considered this show, then how bummed it was when NBC passed? They know this guy has huge potential. It works out some early kinks and eventually starts matching its Family Guy lead-in. 2.05.
Worst Case: That buzz around the NBC Mulaney seems to have died in the transition to Fox, suggesting a show that might have gotten network-noted to death. It has miserable 60% or lower retention out of Family Guy and is replaced pretty early in the fall. Animated repeats and/or some fill-in Bob's Burgers episodes do much better, and Bordertown launches in the winter. 1.20.
Likeliest: I'm not that worried about shaky initial reviews, because there are often early issues with comedies, even ones that end up being great. It has a good enough lead-in that it can keep a certain level of viewership through that period. My issue here is I just don't think the brand of humor I've seen in the trailer matches that well with Fox's animation. It seems like more wholesome stuff than what the Family Guy crowd expects. Fox may look back and wish they'd had this with Brooklyn on Tuesday last season and launched Dads after Family Guy this season. While I see Brooklyn doing just a tenth lower than the second-tier animated shows, Mulaney's gap may be more significant. 1.42, and it's done after its initial 16-ep order. I gave Brooklyn a similar average, but Brooklyn will air deeper into the spring. Brooklyn will have a clearly higher average at the time Mulaney gives way to Bordertown.
|The Walking Dead Fall||AMC||10/12||6.62||+24%|
The Network to Watch: As with the 8:00 hour, it comes down to a wild card sophomore vs. a newbie. This time I'm taking the wild card sophomore Resurrection, though, because it actually has a track record of solid ratings production. ABC.
The Picks: I was on the fence about giving up Resurrection last year. Feels like it might be another The Following where I bail after the season two premiere. Beyond that, will try Mulaney but the only certainty is The Walking Dead.