|Premieres September 25|
|3.05||+22%||big hit||3.15||-3%||Thursday 10:00|
|Timeslot Occupants||Grey's Anatomy||The Taste|
Best Case: Man, does this timeslot set up well for Scandal. Grey's Anatomy will be a far better lead-in than Grey's Anatomy ever had at 9/8c, and the competitors include not-very-big comedies on two networks, an unpromising Fox drama, and a lower-tier CW drama. The show will have even more creative freedom since it doesn't have to work around Kerry Washington's pregnancy. The promotional mega-push will bring series highs and further raw growth. 3.55, marking the return of the megahit drama on broadcast TV.
Worst Case: Scandal is approaching the second half of its third full season (since s1 was so short), when many a broadcast serialized drama has really started tailing off. There's not much that can be done about it; it's just a natural part of the life cycle that these shows start to get somewhat stale. Despite the hype, some slippage is inevitable, especially in the second half of the season. -18% to a 2.50, and an even bigger drop to come in 2015-16.
Likeliest: There was very little sign of Scandal slowing down late last season, including a finale up a bit year-to-year. The promotion is so crazy with this Thursday block that a series high start and an even or better fall run seem very possible. It naturally starts to taper off in the second half of the season, but it will still be a very big season for the show. Down just 1% to a dominant 3.02.
|Thursday Night Football (NEW!)|
|Premieres September 11|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Crazy Ones||Two and a Half Men||Bad Teacher|
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.
|Bad Judge (NEW!)|
|Premieres October 2|
|Timeslot Occupants||Sean Saves the World||Hollywood Game Night|
Best Case: One of the biggest problems in NBC's recent comedy development is that they've struggled to create truly memorable characters. They may have one in the bad judge, and Kate Walsh proved she was very capable of this kind of humor in her recent turn on Fargo. It's a perfectly compatible pairing with The Biggest Loser at 1.55 and eventually gets upgraded to a Voice lead-in (though that's not part of the above average).
Worst Case: Kate Walsh is most recognizable for many as the lead of Shonda Rhimes drama Private Practice. So... why not throw her up against Shonda's biggest series of the moment? Sigh. These comedies are place-holders for The Blacklist and will do a far worse job of attracting initial interest than even Sean Hayes and Michael J. Fox did last year. And the showrunner left after four episodes, which is not a good sign for the quality. It settles at only about half of its Biggest Loser lead-in at 0.80.
Likeliest: For some reason I have an inkling that this concept is "big" enough to do OK even in a shaky situation, kind of like The Goldbergs last year. But it is NBC and Thursday, and all indications are that it's a mess creatively. This timeslot will not allow room for that kind of error. At a 1.16, it'll be an improvement on the horrible occupants last year, largely because its lead-in is an even more drastic improvement. It may get some extra episodes depending on what the network has on tap for January. But probably no season two.
|A to Z (NEW!)|
|Premieres October 2|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Michael J. Fox Show||Hollywood Game Night|
Best Case: There may not have been any single person with a more measurable effect on TV ratings last year than A to Z lead Cristin Milioti, whose episodes of How I Met Your Mother always spiked noticeably. Sure, much of that was about all the HIMYM Mother mythology at first, but eventually a big part of it was driven by Milioti's charm. NBC is capitalizing on that heat with a show that feels similar, and a sizable crowd is invested in her getting a happier ending than she did on HIMYM. Tack on strong chemistry with Ben Feldman and this is a sleeper success at 1.55, actually building on Bad Judge. Gets upgraded to Tuesday and a pairing with the more compatible Marry Me (again, not part of the above average).
Worst Case: It's another likable but totally unmemorable comedy that gets a little fanbase on the Internet. We've seen this script many times before, and it doesn't end well. 0.73 and massively weaker than Bad Judge. It's gone after three weeks for Marry Me repeats or maybe even the return of Parks and Recreation.
Likeliest: I'm not sure this is much of a fit with Bad Judge. Much like Trophy Wife, it's one of those shows that I hope can get rescued from a bad situation, but I'm not holding my breath. It'll settle at a couple ticks behind whatever Bad Judge does, averaging a 0.98. If Sean Saves the World could get extra episodes last year, maybe this can too? No season two.
|Premieres October 2|
|Timeslot Occupants||Glee||Rake||American Idol Thu|
Best Case: HBO's True Detective was a legitimate success, creating more credibility for the "prestige crime drama" category, while Gracepoint also attracts a procedural crowd that has no other option in this hour. The leads are the Tenth Doctor and a Breaking Bad multiple-Emmy winner, which give the proceedings quite a bit of name recognition. It can fully hold its Bones lead-in at 1.60.
Worst Case: The tone here is so depressing that it's a much worse pairing with Bones than it appears on paper. And it has no real shot of attracting attention on its own opposite the probable #1 drama on broadcast. To recycle the phrase from yesterday, "a The Mob Doctor-esque megabomb" at 0.75. Fox might just bite the bullet and ride this one out (as they did with Mob Doc) since they promised a 10-episode ending.
Likeliest: The "prestige crime drama" has proven to be an overrated concept on the broadcast stage (or even the basic cable stage with The Killing). It misses out on much of what makes procedurals work commercially, with little entertainment value in something in this dour and no weekly beginning and end. The connection to well-reviewed British series Broadchurch and the leads might make this one of the better efforts creatively, but I don't see those things attracting any real outside attention. And I don't think the Bones audience will take to it. 1.03. It runs all 10 eps and is never spoken of again.
|Premieres October 2|
Best Case: Reign was actually showing some signs of momentum in the third quarter of the season, and it was only derailed at the end because of how thoroughly The Vampire Diaries fell apart. When TVD rallies this fall, Reign returns to a consistent 0.6 level, and it mixes in some 0.5's in the second half as TVD drops but holds up better. 0.57 and the pair returns next season.
Worst Case: It hit a couple 0.4's late in the season even when TVD was original. With Scandal tearing it up in this hour, it will hang even more 0.4's this fall, making it possibly the weakest weeknight hour on the network. If it runs 22 on Thursday, it will regularly hit 0.3's in the second half. A 40% bomb-out to 0.35, and even the CBS Studios connection can't save it.
Likeliest: The dynamic between Reign and TVD will remain pretty similar, which is not a good thing for Reign since TVD is probably headed for a big drop. Mostly 0.5's for Reign in the fall as TVD bounces back a touch, mostly 0.4's for Reign in the second half. 0.45, down 22%. CBS Studios saves it for a third season, but it's probably going somewhere lower-priority.
The Network to Watch: ABC's move of Scandal beats out some newbies that do not seem promising to me.
The Picks: Watched Scandal and Reign last year. Might try to watch NBC's comedies for a couple weeks online, but I don't see them getting into the DVR rotation unless Reign really stinks this season.