Tuesday, September 9, 2014

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

Best Case/Worst Case moves to the Tuesday 9/8c hour, always the longest post of the year due to all the half-hour comedies. ABC's getting out of the comedy logjam this year, but NBC and Fox will still duel.

Agents of SHIELD
Premieres September 23
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.39 hit 2.48 -4% Tuesday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Goldbergs Trophy Wife
Avg Orig Avg
1.45 1.55 1.68 1.58 1.12 1.11

Best Case: This show got a nice bump when it aired at 9/8c with more favorable competition last year, and overall it held up a lot better in the second half of season one than it was given credit for. Once again, it will be connected with a movie release (The Avengers sequel in May 2015), but the powers that be learned their lesson and are able to make that connection more of a positive. It'll be down big early because of the inflated pilot and early episodes, but it picks up some steam as Avengers 2 nears and is down just barely to 2.30.

Worst Case: ABC has thrown this show onto an island surrounded by major Tuesday failure, and that will matter. It doesn't get much lower and much less compatible than Manhattan Love Story as a lead-in. And the powers that be did not learn their lesson from the Captain America 2 situation last year, so the show has to hold back plot in a big way. That'll be an even bigger deal since the 2015 movie release comes at the very end of the season. Down over a third to 1.52 and ABC cuts its losses.

Likeliest: I defended this show's ratings for much of last year, so I would feel hypocritical jumping ship now. It got much better creatively in the second half of the season, and it's hard to imagine Marvel not handling the upcoming movie release better. The rest of Tuesday is gonna be a mess, which will hold it back from doing even better, but it's the reverse of the Sleepy Hollow situation; it won't be as bad for this show as it'd be with a casual viewing-driven comedy or procedural. I'll say a 1.96, which is down 18% (but less than 10% from the average minus the inflated first five episodes).

NCIS: New Orleans (NEW!)
Premieres September 23

Timeslot OccupantsNCIS: Los Angeles
Avg Orig Avg
2.08 2.44 2.43 2.16

Best Case: Give CBS credit for not just trying to cash in with substandard property NCIS: Red last year. They took an extra year and they got it very, very right, and it will pay off. It's basically like The Mentalist season one, posting full retention or even a bit better of NCIS at a 2.50.

Worst Case: When crime dramas have extended their brand to a third show, they've often ended up with a long-term but more modest player. (See CSI: NY and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.) CBS largely picked this up to avoid the PR embarrassment of torpedoing NCIS spin-offs in back-to-back years, and it's a significant step down from what NCIS: Los Angeles always did here. A league-average 1.70 and done after one full season.

Likeliest: I was planning to be a bit contrarian with this show because generally I'd rather be launching a new spin-off from a growing franchise (NCIS circa 2009) than a declining one (NCIS circa 2014). But the big repeat ratings last week calmed my fears about initial interest somewhat, and it's not like NCIS is declining that much. I also think Scott Bakula will be a legitimately appealing lead for this audience. Since I predicted NCIS at about the same Plus it had in LA's first season, I'll give NCIS: NO the same Plus as LA had in season one: 2.12. Will never get as big as the peak LA years because it will miss out on the peak NCIS years, but it will be a nice player as long as NCIS is one.

Marry Me (NEW!)
Premieres October 14

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Tue Fall About a Boy
Avg Orig Avg
2.81 2.71 3.55 3.22 1.88 1.58

Best Case: Unlike NBC's other post-Voice comedy efforts, NBC is not banking on some big star or movie franchise but actually choosing a program with merit. It's broadly funny enough for the mass Voice audience and has leads who are credible with the young niche comedy crowd. They finally find themselves a Revolution-sized comedy hit and they protect it during the Voice hiatus as they did with Revolution. 2.22.

Worst Case: Take NBC's "from the creator of Happy Endings" promos as a sign that this is another likable but niche comedy in the making. It doesn't have as much of a hook as previous occupants, so it starts a lot lower than Go On or About a Boy. And the fact that it doesn't start until the fourth week of the season isn't a vote of confidence. Its ultimate sub-50% retention of The Voice at 1.36 is not acceptable and something big happens before the end of the fall. (A flip with About a Boy? 90-minute Voice episodes into AaB? The hour is killed entirely for Voice recaps at 8 and originals at 9?)

Likeliest: There's always a show or two each fall for which I really wish I had the screener, and this is one this year. Maybe it's a clear cut above the other post-Voice occupants, but I'm not particularly feeling it from what little I've seen, and it may not be as compatible with The Voice as About a Boy. So I'm probably missing something, but I'll say it settles at the same kind of just-over-50% retention we're used to seeing from previous occupants and averages a 1.72. It probably gets an extension/renewal, but I don't know that it will return to post-The Voice in the spring. May have to do another post for a new timeslot!

About a Boy
Premieres October 14
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.88 solid 1.45 +30% Tuesday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Tue Fall Growing Up Fisher
Avg Orig Avg
2.77 2.69 3.55 3.22 1.58 1.55

Best Case: I always said this show was totally interchangeable with Growing Up Fisher, but it actually did a little better when it aired a double-episode at the end of the spring (dropping just a tenth at 9:30). It can fully retain what Marry Me does, and Marry Me does well. 1.88.

Worst Case: Like Go On, this series was even more dependent on The Voice than it appeared at the time. Even at 9:30 and in relatively close proximity, a significant collapse is on the way. 1.20.

Likeliest: I have nothing to say about this show, really, which maybe again means that I'm missing something. But I think it will just be kind of there, like Growing Up Fisher last year. It usually goes two ticks behind Marry Me. 1.50. We'll see what happens with this block.

New Girl
Premieres September 17
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.67 -27% marginal 1.77 -5% Tuesday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsNew Girl
Avg Orig Avg
1.35 1.53 1.67 1.77

Best Case: A big part of this show's plight is connected to how much worse its lead-ins have gotten, and they were ridiculously terrible in the second half of last season. If Utopia succeeds, that success will trickle into New Girl, which improbably reverses its free-fall and holds up well in season four at 1.55.

Worst Case: This show collapsed in an unbelievable way in the second half last year, and its lead-in situation is actually getting worse with comedies replaced by Utopia. It brings its very low 1's back for the fall and goes sub-1 once Glee or something shows up later in the season. 1.00, down 40%.

Likeliest: Yeah... if I'm not high on Utopia, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which the lead-in situation doesn't get even worse in the fall. It's also difficult to envision it improving to a drastic degree even if Utopia gets pulled. It was down over 40% year-to-year late in the spring, and that trend will continue in the early fall but lessen somewhat later in the season. Like The Vampire Diaries, it just can't collapse this much two years in a row, right? 1.14, down just over 30%.

The Mindy Project
Premieres September 17
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.28 -18% flop 1.32 -3% Tuesday 9:30

Timeslot OccupantsThe Mindy Project Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Avg Orig Avg
1.19 1.27 1.31 1.32 1.26 1.38

Best Case: The finale, man, the finale! This series went from a two-thirds retainer of New Girl for its first season and a half to fully retaining NG in the penultimate episode and building on it for the finale. That finale was even year-to-year, and last year's finale had a 2.1 lead-in! On the crumbling Fox of 2014, that counts as significant momentum. It fully retains New Girl even as that show gets a nice Utopia boost and averages a 1.45, up 13% year-to-year.

Worst Case: This show's "heat" last year amounted to one or two episodes, which could very well just be about a particularly momentous plot development or even a Nielsen sampling fluctuation. It promptly returns to 80% retention of a very weak New Girl at 0.88.

Likeliest: I'm not sold that Mindy has actually become a stronger or even equal show to New Girl, because New Girl had to overcome such a horrible lead-in situation. Unfortunately, even if that's true, it's not a particularly actionable piece of insight if New Girl continues having horrible lead-ins. Mindy will stay very close to New Girl's ratings and will also benefit a bit in the comparison from having a shorter episode order. I'd rather extend Mindy to a full season than doom something new with a New Girl lead-in, but right now it's just 15 eps for Mindy. 1.13.

Premieres October 7
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.00 +8% hit(CW) 0.97 +2% Tuesday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsSupernatural
Avg Orig Avg
0.76 0.96 1.00 0.97

Best Case: It was a wonderful year for Supernatural, and it ended on a really good note with a big finale spike against the Dancing with the Stars and The Voice finales. The momentum will continue, and The Flash is both much bigger and more compatible as a lead-in. Up another tenth to 1.10.

Worst Case: This show isn't going to get a huge bounce from a lead-in upgrade. The last time SPN had a lead-in upgrade in the same timeslot (season one of The Vampire Diaries) it actually dropped a bit more than average. It overachieved to a huge degree last year, a pace that almost can't possibly continue for a show this old, and the year-to-year trends were getting worse late last season. Flash isn't that big and SPN drops 25% to 0.75, which would tie its Plus from 2012-13 after Arrow.

Likeliest: What happened last year with Supernatural feels almost unbelievable to me, and my lack of imagination makes it hard for me to see it growing much farther even if the situation gets even better. Aside from a finale against zero scripted competition, its trends cooled down somewhat in the second half of the season (though not nearly as much as other CW shows). League average drop: -10% to a 0.90.

The Basics:

bc Rank y2y Rank TPUT Rank bc/TPUT Rank
Tuesday 9:00 8.5 9 -3% 8 33.3 6 26% 12

The Network to Watch: I'll go with NBC because I think its newbie is more of an unknown than the CBS newbie (even if the CBS one is "not unknown" in a good way).

The Picks: Agents of SHIELD and The Mindy Project. Tiring somewhat of New Girl, so maybe Marry Me can take its place (or maybe I drop both).


Spot said...

I think the Mindy/New Girl thing still has to do with critics. The AV Club/Reddit crowd jumped ship from New Girk creatively, but still had love for the companion 9:30 show (Mindy and Brooklyn). Usually it would he insignificant for most shows, but Mindy and New Girl are have heavy 18-34 based audiences that seem obsessed with everything they watch being "critically acclaimed". Even INCUDE its double digit Superbowl number and its down a nice chunk y2y. Not good. I see a 1.34 average and maybe a small season 5.
I think NCIS: NO may renew some NCIS Mothership interet that LA did a few years back. It seems more compatible with the Mothership too. I don't care for NCIS, but I like LA quite a bit. Usually catch the summer repeats as there is no longer comedy there. With no Voice and very different thematic drama competiton (Shield and Supernatural), I see it holding very well.

Spot said...

Well the ratings for the premier of Utopia did not scream hit. They were modest at best. That does not bode well for New Girl and Mindy Project. I suppose Utopia could go up in its next episode, but as of now NG and MP are going to have to do it on their own.

Spot said...

As a rule I'm wary of shows that name-drop past shows or famous names involved behind the scenes (think "From Executive Producer Sofia Vergara" or "NBC and Eva Longoria are teaming up..."). NBC, and especially About a Boy, needs to hope Marry Me is the sitcom equivalent of Chicago Fire: a successful show in a format that the network has mucked up for several seasons (sitcoms and procedurals, respectively).

Niche or not, the last show New Girl needs to face is a sitcom that also attempts to skew young. This is not going to end well for New Girl, so let me go ahead and prepare my surprise face when Fox renews this show for 2 more seasons.

The more interesting duel in this hour is NCIS: NO and SHIELD than Marry Me/About a Boy vs. New Girl/The Mindy Project. The Caps Lock-loving dramas are high-profile brand extensions that lean more male, but NO has more going for it: it has the best possible lead-in on a night where its network has its act together. Plus it won't suffer from inflated comparisons to year-ago numbers like SHIELD will. At least both shows are aiming for different ends of the demo spectrum (18-34 for SHIELD, 25-54 for NO) and neither are facing The Voice.

Sometimes I think Spot is blind (see what I did there?) on certain shows. The Walking Dead is a decent example of him simply lacking imagination. Not to say that Supernatural will grow for a third straight season, but if it grew out of a slightly incompatible lead-in last year with The Originals why can't it with more compatible Flash? (I'd argue the drop that came from leading out of The Vampire Diaries is due to that show's more female-leaning audience. Look at how well it held up on its Friday move when re-paired with Smallville.) And since The CW is all in on Flash, plus knowing that they want to try again with a Supernatural spin-off, leads me to be optimistic on the show maintaining a 1.x demo.

My pick: May sample Marry Me and give SHIELD another shot. Otherwise, a DVR clean-up hour (probably of my Monday shows).

Spot said...

"Nothing ever rates bad leading out of the Voice"
Ready For Love wants a word...
Your point is right. No comedy leading off the Voice directly has ever gone below league average with only Voice episodes

Spot said...

I think NBC is getting better at easing their Voice boosted shows. They had their big drama Smash that had the Voice lead in for every episode. They took it off the air 9 months with an unproven rookie comedy lead in. Coupled with a Saturday burn off it was down -68% y2y! Even Fashion Star, which had only a month or so after the Voice collapsed on Friday down -56% y2y!
The next season they had Revolution always air with a Voice lead in. And then had it self start on Wednesday and it was down -47% y2y! Go On fell literally half during the spring when left alone. The New Normal was down -43% and it wasn't even direct lead off!
This year they are handling it better. They gave the Blacklist a 3 week high HUT January by itself run. Are giving it a nice Voice boost through the fall and Superbowl exposure before having it self start.
Chicago Fire continues in the Voice's halo. Never more than an hour later. It already was eased off the direct lead in in the spring and is getting a nice two week direct lead in this year. Even if both the comedies bomb, they can bring the Voice back midseason as direct lead in.
The smartest move was not having About a Boy lead off a comedy block. It is not strong enough. It should do alright still in the Voice's halo.

Spot said...

Marry Me is an interesting one. It's a tough show to promote, due to a lack of star power and not a hugely appealing premise, and NBC certainly hasn't managed to overcome that issue in their marketing. NBC presumably realised that promoting it would be a problem, which is why they gave it the best possible lead-in.

My guess is that it's a solid pilot and NBC execs like creator David Caspe. Going with a writer-driven show seems like a step in the right direction given their recent streak of high-profile star-driven flameouts. Caspe proved on Happy Endings that he can write jokes, whereas most of NBC's sitcoms have been frustratingly laugh-free. I'd guess that NBC expects it to launch worse than most of their other shows but hold better.

Still, I can't help but be a little nervous that it'll be completely DOA, a repeat of the Lone Star debacle.

I can see About a Boy collapsing in season 2. I'm not sold on the show at all. Then again, I'm not sold on any of NBC's fall comedies. I wouldn't be surprised if none of their fall comedies are still airing by mid-season.

I expect Supernatural to benefit from a giant Flash lead-in in early fall. The question is whether The CW keeps it there.

Spot said...

Regarding Supernatural, I again think that a big limitation on its number is the high possibility of it moving midseason (at least in my book). If The Flash is as big as we all expect and The Originals needs help on struggling Mondays it would make no sense to throw a freshman under the bus instead of taking the simple chance to patch up both nights at once and utilize all shows to their best potential.

As for the dramas battle at 9, I am still confused at how much audience Shield seemed to share with NCIS last season, I didn't expect that pre-season. So I am not entirely sure how accurate the whole "One skews 18-34, the other 25-54" thing really is, as odd as that sounds. I think Shield's core is definitely heavy on 18-34 but apparently a lot of casual viewing comes from 25-54, which would actually be a success from ABC's marketing since they tried so hard to sell it as a family show.

Spot said...

I think NCIS NO will do well but I think people are forgetting how much Shield and NCIS were overlapping last season when they mention the "different competition". I know it makes no sense on paper but it was clearly happening.

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