Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fall 2014 Best Case/Worst Case, Thursday 9/8c

Best Case/Worst Case moves to the Thursday 9/8c hour. All eyes will be on the biggest broadcast drama of 2013-14, as Scandal moves into the centerpiece slot that Grey's Anatomy occupied for eight years.

Premieres September 25
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
3.05 +22% big hit 3.15 -3% Thursday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsGrey's Anatomy The Taste
Avg Orig Avg
2.16 2.25 2.69 2.93 1.06 1.13

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 OccupantsThe Crazy Ones Two and a Half Men Bad Teacher
Avg Orig Avg
1.94 2.12 2.08 1.83 2.27 2.19 1.55 1.56

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 OccupantsSean Saves the World Hollywood Game Night
Avg Orig Avg
1.83 1.07 1.04 1.13 1.06 1.34

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 OccupantsThe Michael J. Fox Show Hollywood Game Night
Avg Orig Avg
1.87 1.11 1.04 1.18 1.06 1.34

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.

Gracepoint (NEW!)
Premieres October 2

Timeslot OccupantsGlee Rake American Idol Thu
Avg Orig Avg
1.52 1.58 1.60 1.64 1.11 0.89 1.89 2.29

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
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
0.58 marginal(CW) 0.57 +1% Thursday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsReign
Avg Orig Avg
0.50 0.59 0.58 0.57

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 Basics:

bc Rank y2y Rank TPUT Rank bc/TPUT Rank
Thursday 9:00 8.0 13 -18% 21 32.6 9 25% 13

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.


Spot said...

I don't see Scandal so high, nor Reign so low. For NBC Thursday comedies I must agree. Emphasis on Thursday.,

Bad Judge : Bad Santa is one of my favorite movies, but I doubt I could watch it 22 times a year. Especially if language would be softened for broadcast airing. Bad Judge? Given how troubled NBC Thursdays are, there's little doubt - I bet there won't be 22 editions. I predict 1.20 for 13 episodes and done.

A to Z : For Bad Judge I know what's it, and who's in it. Not for this one, and I have a feeling not many know, or care at alla. At least, it's title is fountain of puns. So, let's start: It lost audience already at "A". Cancelled around Thanksgiving, 0.90 for single digits number of episodes.

Reign: Through first 13 episodes Reign had very good 0.82 average W18-34, mostly 0.8s. But, back 9 averaged 0.60 W18-34, with seven episodes at 0.5 to 0.7, one 0.9 and one 0.3.
All in all, show averaged 0.73 W18-34, and I think that's the best case for Season 2. Reign remains in the same timeslot, so I'd say that 0.60 from back 9 is the worst case.
I expect it to do mostly 0.7s in fall, but 0.6- in 2015, and my likely is 0.66 W18-34.
In A 18-49 money it would be: best case 0.58, worst case 0.48, likely 0.53 A18-49.

Scandal: More competition & weaker lead-in, but higher viewed hour = -15% for around 2.60, I think.

Gracepoint: Pass. I disliked Broadchurch much, so I'm too biased here.

Spot said...

I think FOX's goal with Gracepoint (and Bones) was to have something on Thursday that is not a total disaster and that it allows them to focus on the other nights. I think in relative terms with the other nights this might still be true but in absolute terms I think everything not Monday will collapse.

Spot said...

Scandal: finale was only down two tenths compared to the premiere. I expect it to hurt Blacklist more than the opposite, but I still believe that a procedural might bit a chunk of casuals that are necessary to bring huge ratings. Down 5% to a 2.90
Bad Judge: doomed at 1.08, it's this year's Sean Saves the World.
A to Z: FLIP THIS AND BAD JUDGE NOW, NBC! Since it won't happen, 1.02 and gone
Gracepoint: 1.04, people quit on FOX, so, I'm not going to bet high on them.
Reign: 0.44, renewed by CBS studios only to replace BATB at the role of low rated show to be used as a replacement because the co-owner wants.
Pick: going to keep an eye on A to Z, first NBC sitcom I'm interested to watch since 2009. Given their recent track, I'll be happy if it lasts 13 episodes.

Spot said...

Man, Thursdays used to be such a logjam for me. Now its just dead.
2012-2013 season: I had 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and Glee. Later Community and 1600 Penn
2013-2013 season: I had Parks and Recreation, Big Bang Theory, and The Crazy Ones. Later Community
Community now digital. Parks and Rec Midseason. Crazy Ones done. Big Bang Theory isn't around until October. So basically nothing left.
Basically saying
My Picks: Probably Scandal. I saw the 2nd season finale, 3rd season premiere, fall finale, and season finale (Guess I'm a bandwagon fan...). Just from lack of other options. I think I'd like A to Z, but Bad Judge is not making a case for me to devote the whole hour

Spot said...

I think A to Z's best chance is with disgruntled HIMYM finale fans showing up to avenge the Mother! (I have no such desire, as I loved the finale). She was a basic unknow prior to May 2013, but now can be a real draw.

Spot said...

I watched the pilot and found it rather charming, so I will probably give it a try. I'm not a big comedy fan, so that's unusual in itself. I do admit that as someone who did not enjoy the HIMYM finale a part of me is calling this show How The Mother Met Someone 100 Times Better Than Ted. As long as Zelda doesn't die and SPOILER FOR MAD MEN

Andrew doesn't remove body parts, I'll be good. Actually as long as they don't break up and Andrew doesn't marry someone while rhapsodizing about Zelda for years on end, I'll be happy.

Spot said...

Gracepoint is a double edged sword. It seems to be following the original well, which is good. Even has David Tennant! But the problem with its murder mystery format is that to a lot of people it is a forgone conclusion and they won't feel the need to watch it. The other hand is if they majorly deviate from the original's plot, it could allienate a lot of fans. Either way, I see either Sleepy Hollow or Mob Doctor. Hit or flop. Bones lead does not matter here. I don't see a Following season 2 or House season 8 solid retainer relationship here

Spot said...

I can see this scenario happen. But what about a possible impact of Blacklist on Scandal? I'm a believer that Blacklist will lose the battle but it could take a little bit of Scandal's audience.

PS: I can also see football overlaping with Bad Judge, I pretty much see it as a female-lead 2.5 Men, but Mysteries of Laura looks well off football's demo, I'm betting it will be a heavy female skewing show, around 70%.

Spot said...

I've advocated for NBC to go full drama, guess it won't happen because that since they're now #1 they will keep trying to make it 1997 again through science or magic.

They have no comedy brand (CBS: multicams, one-liners, sex jokes, ABC: family, FOX: niche), their old brand belongs to (oddly) FOX now. So, their tryouts are basically copies that doesn't seem to belong to the channel.

Spot said...

I'm seeing borderline-megahit numbers from the fall run; mid-2s would be about 25% down from that, which I think is plenty enough adjustment for the competition spike.

Spot said...

I am not particularly convinced with the argument that "they have no comedy brand" since ABC also didn't have one until the mega hit Modern Family showed around and FOX wasn't also recognized for niche comedies until New Girl either. My point: it can change up pretty quickly.

I think they are firing in many directions to see what sticks which is probably their best approach.

Spot said...

I think besides AHS, ALL anthology shows are untested. People rave about True Detective and Fargo, but we have no idea what season 2 would look like. Honestly, I think a true anthology series (Twilight Zone or Love, American Style) where each episode is different and self contained would be better for broadcast

Spot said...

I don't think NBC should abandon comedy. I believe any network needs variety to succeed. NBC just needs to be more judicious in what they try to launch. Develop some strong pilots and then really commit to them.

And, yes, they have no comedy brand and no direction. They abandoned their 'niche' brand and failed to realise that bland formulaic shows, which can work for drama, doesn't remotely work for comedy. Their development is just a mess, and they unwisely order lots of similar pilots each year.

Spot said...

Not much to say the last few days, but God how I would love to see another drama megahit on broadcast. If it's gonna be any show, it's gonna be Scandal. I see it being up in the fall, way up. With the lack of scripted competition and being in a higher-viewed hour, I can see the show holding somewhere around a 3.7-3.6. If it gets a consistent split-season treatment, then the only thing we have to worry about is the late spring, which will most likely be inevitably down. But when you think about it, if we have the league average at a 1.7 (which I expect to be dragged down by the continued sinking of the Titani...I mean Fox), then it really only needs to go up by 11% to a 3.4 to get that megahit status. I know I say "only," but I don't see this as incredibly unachievable for a show that has gone up by 20%+ its last two seasons.

Spot said...

I think the last attempt we had with this was with ABC and UPN tried to relaunch Fantasy Island and The Love Boat in the 1998-1999 season, respectively. It's not a bad concept, but it hasn't been tested in a while. The networks should try it since it's worked/working with reality shows: Shark Tank, Undercover Boss, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Extreme Weight Loss, etc.

Spot said...

Escandalo is THE returning drama to track this season. Well on broadcast anyway. Walking Dead/GoT should be more interesting than it still. Expecting a 3ish as well.

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