|Premieres September 25|
|Timeslot Occupants||Once Upon a Time in Wonderland||The Taste|
Best Case: The move to 8/7c feels like much more of a demotion than it is. It faces a bunch of modest, declining veterans, and Grey's is still a part of that Thursday lineup that ABC is promoting relentlessly. CSI held up very well in its first year away from its longtime Thursday 9/8c home, so why not Grey's? It's down just 7% to a 2.49.
Worst Case: ABC's Thursday 8:00 Curse will reel in its biggest fish yet. This is a lineup with three straight hours targeting the same audiences, and that audience won't want to plant in front of the TV for more than two. And Sandra Oh's departure is significant. The declining veteran Grey's is the series left out in the cold, dropping over a full point (or about 40%) to 1.63. Either ABC announces that this is the final season sometime early in 2015, or they renew it for a short final season in fall 2015.
Likeliest: I'm tempted to be optimistic here because I see all of Grey's opponents in this hour trending down, making this slot not that difficult. However, its timeslot last year was even easier, with no dramas of consequence after Glee left. And I can't help but think a lot of the Shonda Rhimes audience will just trade out Grey's for the hot new thing How to Get Away with Murder. So it drops 25% to a 2.01. This will still make it an extremely strong player for ABC in this hour within the historical context, so it should get another renewal. But ABC might announce 2015-16 as the final season.
|Thursday Night Football (NEW!)|
|Premieres September 11|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Big Bang Theory||The Millers|
Best Case: CBS is all-in on this thing production-wise, putting its #1 broadcast team on all these games (even after the CBS telecasts end, if I understand correctly). And Thursday Night Football, at least from the CBS perspective, has one huge advantage over the Sunday and Monday franchises: it only lasts for the first half of the season, when the NBC NFL ratings are over 10% stronger. It won't match SNF on a week-by-week basis, but it's only about a point shy. And because of SNF's erosion in the second half, the average is virtually the same as SNF: a 7.50.
Worst Case: NFL games on Sunday and Monday night are part of the fabric of American culture. Thursday is something new, and the habit doesn't form immediately. The games are mostly nothing special, both from a matchup perspective and because players aren't at their best off of short weeks. Though it's on the broadcast stage, it does a fair amount worse than ESPN's Monday games. 4.40.
Likeliest: Ad rate buzz seems to suggest CBS is looking for money about halfway between NBC's Sunday ad rates and ESPN's Monday ad rates. Those shows ended up with 7.90 and 5.18 averages respectively last year. Normally I'd go very close to the Monday end of that range, but this does have that key advantage of ending after just eight weeks. So it manages a 5.70, a little better than ESPN's early-season games but quite a bit behind NBC Sunday.
|The Biggest Loser|
|Premieres September 11|
|Timeslot Occupants||Parks and Recreation||Welcome to the Family||Community|
Best Case: There's no unscripted competition, and The Biggest Loser gets to start about a month earlier than last year (including a head start on the other broadcasters). Bringing in former athletes is kind of an interesting twist. Down just a tenth to 1.83.
Worst Case: Jillian Michaels is gone again, and she was the main reason why the show surged back to solid ratings a couple years ago. NBC Thursday is cursed! The former athlete angle might bring in a few viewers... if not for those viewers now watching NFL games on CBS. And to top it off, it's no longer in The Voice's halo as it was on Tuesday. This is The Biggest Loser's weakest season yet by a wide margin at a 1.30.
Likeliest: There's quite a bit going against this season of The Biggest Loser. So I think it drops 25% to a 1.45, which would be this series' lowest Plus score historically. But it would still be great by NBC's recent Thursday standards.
|Premieres September 25|
|1.72||-19%||marginal||1.82||-5%||M 8:00, F 8:00, M 8:00|
|Timeslot Occupants||The X Factor Thu||American Idol Thu||Hell's Kitchen|
Best Case: Many of Bones' most valuable seasons have come on Thursday, and it benefits quite a bit from not airing on Friday and not getting jerked all over the place. It could break even or even uptick a bit to 1.74 simply because it gets treated a lot better. That'd put it at about the Plus level of the two Bones seasons prior to this one.
Worst Case: The multiple moves last season really hurt this series, and that damage is permanent. The 1.5-1.6ish audience at the end of the season is the best Bones can muster out of the gate. It stays put in the spring (with a decaying 30-minute Idol at 9/8c again) and tails off into the 1.2 range after the new year. That adds up to a rotten 1.30 average, down another quarter, and that's likely it for Bones.
Likeliest: Who knows what fresh scheduling hell Fox will have for Bones in 2014-15? I'm gonna assume for this prediction that Bones keeps the Thursday 8/7c slot all season, though I kinda doubt it will happen. It averages a 1.53, which is only a touch above a league average drop, but it looks better than it truly is because of the Friday comparisons. (I'll say a 1.60 if it's moved at the end of the fall.)
|The Vampire Diaries|
|Premieres October 2|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Vampire Diaries|
Best Case: The Vampire Diaries usually bounces back from its spring numbers in the early fall, and it almost can't possibly drop so much over the course of the season again. From 1.0's in the fall to 0.8's in the spring, it adds up to a 0.93. That's down less than 10%.
Worst Case: It bounced back from its spring numbers in previous seasons because the drops were simply situation-based. What happened to this show over the course of 2013-14 was significant damage to the franchise, and the presence of Grey's Anatomy at 8/7c is an added issue. It won't do any better than its late spring 0.7/0.8 out of the gate. It might even hit some 0.5's late in the season, but the overall average is a 0.64 (down well over a third).
Likeliest: How much can this show really bounce back? It's never rebounded by more than a tick or two from its late spring numbers, so even getting back to 1.0 in the fall might be a tough ask. Since this show had a long string of 1.3's last fall, those fall comparisons are gonna be pretty horrible. As I said in the Best Case, it's hard to imagine the show collapsing as much in the second half for a second straight year, so the drops won't be this severe toward the end. But I'll go with nearly -25%, seemingly my go-to year-to-year trend for this hour, to a 0.79. If my predictions are right, that'd take it from the #1 18-49 show on the network (five years running!) to #4. All good things must come to an end.
The Network to Watch: This isn't one of the more star-studded hours on the sked, but with so many shows new to the timeslot, nothing's terribly uninteresting either. I'll take ABC and the earlier start time for Grey's Anatomy. It should be the biggest show of the entertainment bunch and it leads into a couple extremely high-stakes hours for its network.
The Picks: This hour has many veteran dramas that I gave up on years ago. I don't anticipate returning to any of them. So it's maybe the beginning of a football game, and then The Big Bang Theory when it returns.