Thursday, October 2, 2014

Premiere Week Year-to-Year: Winners, Losers, Networks

With Premiere Week 2014 in the books, let's take a look at how it compared with Premiere Week 2013. We'll examine the shows and timeslots that changed the most vs. 2013, plus the network race.

For these top 10 lists, I've weeded out the CW, Saturday shows, and sports pre-game stuff. The "TIMESLOT" lists compare only this premiere week vs. last year's premiere week, while the "SHOW" lists compare season premieres vs. season premieres (including many premieres that were before or after the premiere week last year).


Top 10 TIMESLOT Improvements:
1. Grey's Anatomy (vs. Agents of SHIELD (R)) +158%
2. Family Guy (vs. Family Guy/American Dad!) +91%
3. Thursday Night Football (vs. The Big Bang Theory/The Crazy Ones/Two and a Half Men/Elementary) +76%
4. The Big Bang Theory (vs. How I Met Your Mother) +48%
5. Forever (vs. Lucky 7) +44%
6. Once Upon a Time (vs. itself) +42%
7. The Simpsons (vs. itself) +34%
8. 20/20 (vs. itself) +23%
9. Shark Tank (vs. Last Man Standing/The Neighbors/Shark Tank) +23%
10. Scorpion (vs. 2 Broke Girls/Mom) +21%

Grey's number wouldn't have been so gaudy if compared against, say, the premiere of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland last year. But once we start comparing where Grey's settles vs. where Wonderland settled, it may end up back in this general vicinity.

Forever and Scorpion were the only two newbies on this list, and both of them became even bigger timeslot improvements in week two. Even with Forever's big week two drop, it benefited because Lucky 7 totally melted down in week two.

Top 10 SHOW Improvements:
1. Family Guy +73%
2. Once Upon a Time +42%
3. The Simpsons +34%
4. 20/20 +23%
5. Scandal +8%
6. Dateline Fri +8%
7. Shark Tank +6%
8. Survivor +4%
t-9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sun 8:30 vs. Tue 8:30) +0%
t-9. 48 Hours +0%


Top 10 TIMESLOT Declines:
1. Sleepy Hollow (R) (vs. Glee) -70%
2. Dancing with the Stars Tue (vs. Agents of SHIELD) -63%
3. Red Band Society (vs. The X Factor) -58%
4. Utopia Fri (vs. MasterChef Junior) -58%
5. Utopia Tue (vs. Dads/Brooklyn Nine-Nine) -52%
6. Hell's Kitchen (vs. The X Factor) -48%
7. Sleepy Hollow (vs. itself) -45%
8. New Girl (vs. itself) -38%
9. Chicago PD (vs. Law and Order: SVU) -34%
10. The Mindy Project (vs. itself) -33%

This is a lot of Fox.

A couple notable declines that just missed the list: the two ends of CBS' Amazing Race move (Fri 8/7c with TAR and Sun 8/7c with Madam Secretary) were down 31%/30% respectively. Not the trend CBS was looking for out of that swap.

Top 10 SHOW Declines:
1. Agents of SHIELD -55%
2. The Amazing Race (Fri 8:00 vs. Sun 8:00) -45%
3. Sleepy Hollow -43%
4. New Girl -41%
5. CSI (Sun 10:00 vs. Wed 10:00) -35%
6. Revenge (Sun 10:00 vs. Sun 9:00) -35%
7. Resurrection -34%
8. The Mindy Project -32%
9. Bones (Thu 8:00 vs. Mon 8:00) -30%
10. Blue Bloods -29%


Nielsen's official numbers were NBC 3.0, CBS 2.4, ABC 2.2, Fox 2.0. From what I can tell, CBS is being allowed to count the combined CBS/NFLN numbers for Thursday Night Football in the CBS network averages. So I'm doing that throughout this post, mostly because it's a logistical hassle to do it the other way. But it is very much worth keeping in mind, as it adds 0.1-0.2 to the CBS average every week.

Here's a table with the year-to-year trend for each network on each night of opening week:

Premiere Week y2y ABC CBS NBC Fox CW Total
Monday -10% +28% -20% +3% +25% -3%
Tuesday -35% -20% -10% -43% -14% -24%
Wednesday -13% +9% -22% -53% +80% -20%
Thursday +35% +43% -20% -46% -11% +13%
Friday +24% -28% +1% -44% -17% -12%
Saturday -41% -10% -10% -20%
Sunday +18% -21% -2% +27%
Total -4% +6% -8% -12% +9% -5%

The extent of Fox's nightmare from Tuesday through Friday was truly amazing, down by 40%+ for four straight nights. And it's not like Saturday (a 0.4 football game vs. last year's 0.5 football game) was really any better.

Here's how it looked using just original non-sports series:

Week Ending ABC CBS NBC Fox CW
1 9/28/2014 107 92 110 88 17
2013-14 Week 1 98 96 117 88 12
2013-14 Final 96 106 103 94 34

If you want ABC to emerge as the original non-sports champ of the season, something they've never done in the A18-49+ era, there certainly seems to be a path here. Last year, it dropped only two relative points from premiere week to season's end despite a premiere week event (the Agents of SHIELD premiere) that may have been more inflated than anything they did this year. CBS will get stronger, as they always do, and NBC will probably come down at least somewehat. I'd say none of those three should be counted out yet.

As for Fox? Well... they were at a 66 until their huge Sunday. Sunday always helps Fox, but for an apples-to-apples comparison, they were at 82 prior to Sunday of premiere week last year. So sustaining the even year-to-year in Plus pace would be a miracle.


Spot said...

Honestly, I think the Animated repeat lineup will do better than Utopia. I still maintain FOX should have gone Bob's Burgers/Family Guy (R) until November or Family Guy (R)/Bob's Burgers. It would get better ratings and would be a better use of Bob's than Sundays at 7:30 (6:30 where I live). Honestly, I think Bob's is a pretty bad show, but I don't think having it at 7:30 on a network with so many holes will help

Spot said...

Scorpion is only real shocker for me, so far. I'd never imagine it would do so good.

Yes, many other shows' ratings surprised me. But it's just that ratings of those are lower or higher than I expected (or much higher in case of TGIF), while shows are still in a tier (renew / bubble / cancel) where I expected to see them.

Spot said...

There are a couple of reasons to think that ABC was abnormally inflated week 1 (double Shark Tank, no Tuesday comedies, normal spike for premieres of serialized shows, a repeat in premiere week last year blurring comparisons) but I kind of think that cancels out with the "negative" factors (Shield's premiere last year, no Castle in the premiere week). So I think there is a legitimate shot that they actually pull through. Last week, I said it would come down to two things: Sundays and Winter.

I think they got a hold of Sundays for now, largely because of Frozen's very impressive boost, so that one is perfectly covered, even if Revenge is disappointing. Winter remains a big concern of mine, but so do Tuesdays now. Sure I didn't count on the comedies being big hits but I thought Selfie would have something resembling a pulse and I thought MAOS would be like 0.5 higher than it is at the moment. They need a plan to fix that night and they need to give Shield some kind of compatible programming to surround it quick.

Another point will be Spring. Secrets and Lies seems to be clearly inferior to Murder but, perhaps more importantly since it's at 9pm, American Crime is something I don't really believe in, which positioned at 9pm, if OUAT has the misfortune of a bad 4B arc would derail Sundays.

All this being said, I am still stunned by their performance so far, particularly Once Upon a Time, the entire Shonda block, The Goldbergs, Shark Tank, 20/20, Modern Family, Resurrection and Black-ish. That's a LOT of winners and it's not like those wins were minor (hello +43% for OUAT!).

Spot said...

On the whole, I think the most impressive Premiere Week number comes from Once Upon a Time. This is its highest number since Premiere Week of 2012, and it pulled it off without a football lead-in while staying in its original timeslot. Plus it's a big reason why Resurrection got back into the mid-2's for its debut. Grey's Anatomy is a close second for pulling ABC's best number there for regular programming since Winter Wipeout's early January 2011 run, or, just looking at something scripted, Flashforward's 2009 early episodes (unless I'm missing something).

Conversely, yikes at Sleepy Hollow and New Girl. The former can't blame its lead-in as Gotham has been stronger than Bones was last season. The latter could point a finger at Utopia, but it's not like MasterChef Jr. is going to really be that much help, especially with only a 7 episode order.

Looking at the networks overall, ABC is the big winner for starting so much stronger compared to last year. But with CBS' reputation for being the tortoise to the other networks hares, it'll catch up and narrow the gap since ABC and NBC can't sustain this pace as we move through the season.

Spot said...

Some of my surprises so far (no particular order):
- OUAT hitting a series high in PLUS by such a large margin (biggest surprise of the season for me by far)
- TGIT doing even better than thought (even though I was much more optimistic than you were)
- Scorpion Week 2 hold (the premiere rating wasn't all that surprising to me considering promotion and big bang)
- Sleepy Hollow falling so much despite Gotham

- Cartoons Sunday hitting such big highs
- The Amazing Race imploding
- Shield coming back so weak after such a good trend last winter/spring and a timeslot upgrade
- The Biggest Looser being so weak

Spot said...

While it is true that CBS is usually the tortoise that catches up and narrows the gap, I think there is a lot of reasons to think that won't be the case this year since their premiere week was so positively inflated:
- Mondays won't hold as well as they are now once TBBT leaves. The first hour will probably do less than half of what it is doing now and Scorpion will certainly come down some as well, even if it continues to hold very well.
- Wednesdays are inflated with Big Brother. We have yet to see Stalker's numbers but I don't buy that it will be able to hang around that 2.6 regularly. It would probably be a win if it could hang around a 2.0 already since no other CBS 10pm drama is doing so.
- Thursdays are ridiculously inflated because of TNF. Even if it is not counted in Spot's numbers, I feel like the night will drag down the average, particularly from 9h30 to 11. Elementary finished the season awfully and McHarthys have We Are Men written all over it. Even with big bang (which will have to rerun more often than usual) I feel it won't really help their average.

I give you Fridays and Tuesdays being the standard tortoise schedule of CBS that would tend to grow in PLUS as the season progresses but the rest I don't think so.

Spot said...

Oh and by the way, I agree about OUAT being the most impressive performance so far (though TGIT is also ridiculous, even if slightly more expected)

Spot said...

My point is that I really don't care much, for example, HTGAWM hitting 3.9. Nice for ABC, Shonda, and the show itself, yes. But even if it premiered at "only" 2.9 I'd be 100% sure it's renewed. With 3.9 I'm sure the same 100%. I mean, I cannot be sure 101%.

Even less i care for one-time events like Sunday cartoons / OUAT big premieres.

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