|Premieres September 24|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Middle|
Best Case: The finale was up a tick from last year, and the summer repeats have absolutely exploded, up 21% from last summer thus far! NBC and Fox competitors will likely be even weaker than last year. This show has held up quite well the last couple years even as ABC has done some pretty stupid things with the rest of the Wednesday lineup. Now that they're actually behaving competently, there's some real upside. It's up nearly 10% to a 2.25, becoming a bonafide hit for the first time.
Worst Case: Male-skewing Revolution and Twitter teen-skewing The X Factor were never actually a problem for The Middle. Hell's Kitchen and The Mysteries of Laura are actually more conducive to family viewing. Down 17% to 1.71.
Likeliest: Last year I predicted The Middle would be even year-to-year, and though it was getting there toward the very end of the season, it wasn't that close for the full run. Can I pull the trigger again, with the show trending better late in the season and coming off a very good summer of repeats? ...YES. With the late season/summer ratings, there's actually more working in its favor this year than last, when I was mostly counting on a syndication bump (and that may still factor in this year). 2.06. Help me out, Middle.
|Premieres September 24|
|Timeslot Occupants||Back in the Game||Suburgatory|
Best Case: The Goldbergs is the main reason why ABC's Wednesday repeats have done so well this year. The pairing with The Middle is a match made in heaven and a huge upgrade over last year's shaky SHIELD pairing and a lot of comedy competition. It'd be highly disappointing if there's no season two bounce here. It matches its usual 100% repeat retention and ties an overachieving Middle's 2.15.
Worst Case: The pairing makes sense, but The Goldbergs is sadly just a little too late. Too many weak 8:30 and 9:30 shows have put the momentum in a negative direction on ABC Wednesday, and even a decent 85% hold means about a league average drop since The Middle underachieves. 1.49.
Likeliest: I don't expect The Goldbergs to match its consistent 100% retention from the summer, since passive repeat viewing is a different beast. But the Wednesday lineup's remarkable growth this summer has to mean something. The Goldbergs will consistently go a tick or two below The Middle, but that's still going to be good enough for some significant season two growth. 1.89.
|Premieres September 24|
|Timeslot Occupants||Survivor Fall||Survivor Spring|
Best Case: Survivor had a really good spring season, down just 7% (its smallest y2y decline for a season in four years). And last year's Dancing with the Stars was proof that that momentum can escalate the following season. Blood vs. Water was a pretty good twist the first time, and it's back this fall. With The X Factor out of the way, Survivor can go dead even or maybe even inch up to a 2.50.
Worst Case: There's a good chance that Hell's Kitchen shares more audience with Survivor than the Fox music competitions ever did. They cannibalize each other, and Survivor takes a third straight 15%ish drop in the fall, maybe even a little more if the casting sucks. 2.03.
Likeliest: Oddly, Survivor has taken two straight above-average drops in the fall and two straight below-average ones in the spring. I got burned by calling for those trends to flip last year, but I have to do it again. So Survivor drops a little less than average this fall. And Survivor actually had one of its better recent seasons the last time it faced Hell's Kitchen in fall 2010, not that it really means anything. -6% to a 2.31.
|The Mysteries of Laura (NEW!)|
|10/9c Preview September 17; 8/7c Premiere September 24|
Best Case: This show wouldn't have had a prayer five years ago on NBC, but now NBC has an older base audience that might gravitate to this. It makes for a good pairing with Law and Order: SVU, another show driven by a strong female detective. And the lack of drama competition sets this up as a nice counter-programming option. It averages a 1.60, making for an extremely consistent three-hour lineup that might just return intact in 2015-16.
Worst Case: SVU and Chicago PD may be crime procedurals, but they at least have enough edge to draw in some younger viewers in 2014. The Mysteries of Laura is far too retro, almost insultingly so, and nobody's reeled in by the very silly promos. It averages a 0.83 and is canned after three episodes.
Likeliest: I'm having trouble figuring out where else NBC would put the last season of Parks and Recreation, so I have a feeling Laura is just keeping the slot warm for that and some other comedy. Can it hold up well enough to air all 13 episodes? I wouldn't be stunned at a very early hook, but I'll say yes. Most of the failed occupants of this slot historically have managed about a 60 Plus; Laura may go a touch higher due to the favorable competition and NBC's strengthening in general. But it won't match what Revolution did last year. 1.11 and done after 13. Parks takes its place early in 2015.
|Premieres September 10|
|Timeslot Occupants||The X Factor Wed||American Idol Wed|
Best Case: Hell's Kitchen had a somewhat off year this summer, and it will benefit from higher overall viewing in the fall. It rates a little higher than the summer season, and actually a bit better than The X Factor's raw number last year. 1.83.
Worst Case: Survivor is far tougher as competition than anything Hell's had to deal with in the summer, and the other networks are on the map too. Fox's implosion extended even to Hell's Kitchen last summer, and the double-digit erosion will continue into this spring season. 1.36, dropping as much from the summer rating as the summer season dropped year-to-year.
Likeliest: Probably the best comparison for this Hell's Kitchen situation was its last fall season in 2010, when it averaged a 2.77 coming off a summer season that averaged 2.97. I don't see much reason to expect this one to do better, especially since it's back so soon after the last season ended. Though Hell's can put up respectable regular season numbers, it's a little better-suited to the summer, and it will once again go a bit behind the spring/summer season. 1.56.
|Premieres October 8|
Best Case: The Flash is so big that it even helps out Arrow a fair amount, especially when they cross over. Arrow is also losing what may have been a meaningful competitor in NBC's Revolution. It won't quite be Flash, but it will inch up to 0.95 and thus handily pass both of the struggling vampire shows in the ratings.
Worst Case: Arrow didn't do quite as badly as The Vampire Diaries and The Originals in the spring, but (aside from a good finale) the drop was still far from encouraging. The 0.7-0.8 level from the late spring is all that returns in the fall, and a string of 0.6's late in the season drag it down to a 0.67, down close to 30% year-to-year.
Likeliest: Though the spring drops look bad, the show was actually not down drastically more in the second half of the season (meaning it took a similar spring decline the previous season). The improved timeslot and a pinch of Flash heat add up to a slightly smaller drop than last year: -11% to a 0.82.
The Network to Watch: I'm taking ABC in an upset over the network with a newbie. If The Middle and The Goldbergs don't experience some heat in originals this season, we can probably put to bed the notion of making anything of summer repeat ratings, ever.
The Picks: I have been locked in on Survivor and Arrow in this slot the last couple years, and I don't plan on that changing. I liked The Goldbergs last year, but it may have to get demoted to on demand catch-up duty when both of those shows are on (something I had to do with Suburgatory last season).