Monday, November 10, 2014

ABC True Power Rankings, November 2014

After an unfortunate delay for some maintenance, the True Power Rankings have finally returned! As always, these rankings dive into the strength of series based on the last one-third of results this season, rounded up (which helps weed out inflated early ratings), in the timeslot-adjusted metric True and in A18-49 ratings. Also included: how the show is trending vs. last season (y2y), how much of the show's total viewership falls within the 18-49 demo (Skew), and, new this year, how much of the 18-49 audience is male (%Male). These last three numbers cover what is available for the full season rather than just the last third of results, but generally the age/gender skews don't change a lot from week to week.

Next week comes the analysis-free Weekly True Power Rankings, and I'll finally have some words about what's new in the True formula vs. last year. Most of these numbers are the same ones posted in the SpotVault all season, though numbers on Sunday and Thursday are a tiny bit lower due to a late adjustment in how sports are counted as competition. The updated Sunday/Thursday numbers are now live in the Vault.

These rankings include results through Sunday, November 2.

More November True Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW

ABC ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Wednesday Four
1Modern Family3.153.45-13%44%41%
2The Goldbergs2.272.25+8%41%39%
4The Middle2.031.95-13%35%34%

ABC's current Wednesday foursome is the closest ABC has gotten in the Modern Family era to a fully-realized two-hour comedy lineup, and it's happened even as the two anchor series have been less than sensational. The previous gold standard was that Middle/Suburgatory/Modern/Happy Endings lineup from 2011-12. In A18-49+, The Goldbergs looks about as strong as even the very earliest days of Suburgatory, while Black-ish is doing better than Happy Endings in fall 2011. And that's with the anchors a bit softer now (especially Modern Family).

With all the shows ordered for 24 episodes, it seems very unlikely ABC will tweak the lineup within this season (which is very bad news for newbie Fresh Off the Boat). The more interesting issue is whether ABC should even mess with it going into next season. We've gotten used to quite the churn through that post-Modern Family slot, but Black-ish is building a very real case to hold onto this slot for more than one full season. It seems like a perfect storm; the ratings are very acceptable but not exactly in runaway smash territory. The True formula thinks it would be a The Middle-sized player if it anchored its own hour, and it may be understating the compatibility with Modern Family. Perhaps most importantly, it's an ABC Studios show, meaning the studio finally has that long-sought opportunity for a syndication player out of this largely WB/Fox-driven generation of comedy. I just don't know how you can look at ABC's history in this slot and expect the network to do better. So I doubt I would kick out Black-ish even in 2015-16 unless there's a major home run in development (or a significant change in Black-ish's strength). It's a textbook good-not-great pairing.

That brings us to the 8:00 hour. I've long said that a show that's Truly on par with a The Middle-sized player should be building from it at 8:30. Back when Suburgatory was matching The Middle, it always graded decidedly weaker in True, and indeed ABC never pulled the trigger on that series in an anchor role. What's developing with The Middle and The Goldbergs may be a different situation entirely. It's building significantly in A18-49, and it's skewing noticeably younger/more male to boot. So if ABC really wants to put a new comedy on Wednesday (and they probably should want that, ideally), they may have to start discussing a move of longtime anchor The Middle. Moving The Middle from Wednesday would likely be the beginning of the end for that show, but ABC can probably still squeeze a couple seasons out of it anchoring an hour on another night. There's still a long way to go, but this should at least be on ABC's radar.

ABC ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Friday Two
5Last Man Standing1.601.15-7%24%38%

Last Man Standing is about the same show as in the second half of last season, when it came down to the renewal wire. I think what this show has done on Friday has been somewhat taken for granted, but assuming it stays at this level, its survival probably comes down to behind-the-scenes stuff.

Cristela looked like a solid contender in its early weeks, and its 1.0 ratings against the World Series and on Halloween could be forgiven. But week five (not yet included in the above averages) will almost certainly be its Truly worst point yet, hanging at 1.0 on what was an upward night for the majority of broadcast series (including Last Man, up to 1.3). It's not an obvious situation here. At 0.9, you're The Neighbors; at 1.1, you're a major improvement on The Neighbors and thus have a reasonably solid renewal case. If I had to choose now, I'd say give it some kind of extension. I'd rather try to make this work than force a Fresh Off the Boat pairing which seems even worse. But since it's a multi-cam with quick production, ABC can probably see a bit more data before deciding. (Malibu Country's five-episode extension two years ago didn't come till the very end of November.)

ABC ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Tuesday Dunzo
8Manhattan Love Story1.100.8037%33%

Selfie felt like a Trophy Wife situation: ABC was waiting for some random uptick to justify pouncing on an additional order for a show they liked. It happened in week six for Trophy Wife, and week six should've been well set up for something similar for Selfie: Voice in clips mode, repeat NCIS, repeat Flash. Instead, it was a new low 0.9, and that was curtains for a show ABC had still been promoting pretty generously. Trying to start a young female-skewing comedy hour was always a long shot, and this one didn't really even skew all that young or all that female. But at least there was no major opportunity cost; the only real downside is it may have hurt SHIELD a little bit, and now ABC can move on.

ABC DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
Shonda & Elsa
2How to Get Away with Murder2.652.8536%25%
3Once Upon a Time2.602.50+20%45%36%
4Grey's Anatomy2.572.45-14%37%25%

Not much to say here except that these shows are all huge wins. One thing I will note is that while How to Get Away with Murder brought considerable new/outside interest on premiere night (building by over two million total viewers on Scandal), it seems to have settled in about a skew lock-step with Grey's and Scandal. Nothing at all wrong with that, but it likely means ABC should lean toward keeping the shows together next season rather than trying to branch out this brand to another night, especially since Murder is going to be coming off a very long hiatus.

ABC DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Second Tier
5Agents of SHIELD1.831.65-46%46%56%

The year-to-year numbers are very ugly, and the only time Agents of SHIELD ratings have really gotten any attention this season was when it got beaten by The Flash's premiere (even if that was kind of a silly comparison). But it skews younger and significantly maler than anything else entertainment on the network. As long as the 18-49 ratings are passable, this should be a keeper. Before the season, I kinda expected the show's worst raw numbers may come after Manhattan Love Story, even though it was early in the season. But seeing just how male it leans, I'm not sure ABC is ever going to find an actual compatible pairing. It will always be on a demographic island, and much of the Marvel crowd bailed in the opening weeks last season, which will limit its ability to get good A18-49 ratings. But it will probably get evaluated more favorably than the A18-49 ratings indicate.

These rankings only include the last third of results as a method of quickly eliminating the inflated early results of new shows. Usually it doesn't make a huge difference with returnees, but it kind of does with Castle. The show had three good results to open the season, then fell off a cliff for some reason in week four and only minimally recovered in week five. And weeks four and five are the two included above. So it might be somewhat understated by its current ranking. But if 1.5 and 1.6 are its new normal even after The Blacklist departs, that's... fairly unimpressive. If NBC becomes very vulnerable in this hour late in the season, moving Castle should be on the table.

ABC DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Low End

The notion of Nashville airing in five-nights-a-week syndication still seems laughable to me, but it looks like yet another of those series that is not quite enough of a dumpster fire to be a decisive test case. If only one can survive among this whole group, Nashville wouldn't be that unreasonable even looking at just ratings. If getting to four full seasons has real value, it has a big lead.

Before the season, I told you that Forever was a far worse pairing with Agents of SHIELD than it appeared if you just looked at the two series and said "hey, genre shows." That has absolutely proven to be the case. But I thought that would just mean the younger/maler portion of the SHIELD crowd would outright reject it and nobody else would pay attention, and Forever would thus have blandly low numbers that were a bit older and a bit less male-skewing than SHIELD. Instead, Forever has actually attracted a bit of a crowd from outside of the SHIELD-verse. It's had a remarkable discrepancy in age and gender skew relative to SHIELD, generally building a bit in total viewers and roughly matching SHIELD in W18-49. That was enough for a back nine in one of ABC's historically miserable timeslots, but it probably won't be enough for season two. Now that it's gonna be around for awhile, I'd like to see it get a shot in an actual compatible situation. Situations can matter a lot for this kind of show. Sunday after Once Upon a Time in the spring wouldn't be that unreasonable. It sure seems like a better pairing than American Crime.

The last couple weeks have seen Resurrection post the two worst True scores for any ABC drama this season. It's worth noting that while there is a generic "Sunday cable competition" adjustment in the formula, it should probably be higher at 9:00 when The Walking Dead is in play. So maybe Resurrection should rank a bit higher, but I still see it at the bottom of the totem pole and the top cancellation candidate. In terms of episode count, it may as well be a new show. Syndication isn't on the radar. And in terms of potential upside, it may as well be a tenth-year show; the crowd that was into the initial premise is long gone. I may eat my words if it improves in December/January with the Dead out of the way, but I think it has to improve a lot.

ABC UnscriptedTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
1Shark Tank2.241.90-2%33%46%
2Dancing with the Stars Fall2.071.97-9%20%28%
4America's Funniest Home Videos1.461.20-5%26%42%

The Dancing with the Stars comeback has slowed down this season, but it's not back on the downslide yet either. No immediate reason to expect ABC to change its year-round plans for the first two hours of Monday.

With Shark Tank rolling toward another season as the biggest Friday series in the A18-49+ era, the upcoming spin-off Beyond the Tank will be a key part of ABC's midseason plan. I've always thought the Shark Tank brand (the second most male-skewing entertainment show on the network) would be a decent pairing with SHIELD, but I'm not sure Beyond the Tank has enough appeal in its own right to attract viewership on a separate night from the mothership. We'll see how ABC feels.


Spot said...

I know TV viewing isn't a 50-50 thing on gender. What exactly is the split?

Spot said...

Once and Forever really wouldn't be the wost pairing. Seeing as their gender skews are almost identical. It also is I think supernatural enough to get some Once interest and procedural enough to be Walking Dead/GOT counterprogramming.

Spot said...

Could you put American Crime in the Tuesday 10pm slot? Cable competition is drastically softer, and I'm getting "it's a 10pm show" vibes from the concept.

Spot said...

Just taking the median of all entertainment series, it's right around 60% female/40% male. It's probably a bit more male than that overall due to sports.

Spot said...

I dunno if going against Chicago Fire and POI with a show about crime is the greatest idea. I think alien invasion drama The Whispers is destined for that slot

Spot said...


Spot said...

The wrap had an article on Shark Tank on Friday: the article states that

"The new show, still in pre-production, could air as early as this season, though nothing is set in stone. No word yet on the final timeslot, but those close to the show say it could be scheduled as the lead-in to “Shark Tank.”

Now using this quote is equivalent to using Deadline's statements on development, but if the show can be ready by midseason, and if they put it on Friday, that would suggest a couple of things:

1. the TGIF comedies would have to go on a midseason hiatus. This seems odd, since they would repeat okay and are not serialized. Maybe ABC is thinking of shifting out of the scripted game on Friday and going totally unscripted to save costs. At which case the down to the wire renewal for Last Man Standing might spell the end to that show (And no renewal for Christela as well).

2. Along those lines, they might put "Beyond the Tank" at 8 to groom it to take over as anchor for shark tank, which would suggest they might move shark tank (probably to Tuesday). If they wanted to go total unscripted, they could bring What Would You Do? back and have Beyond the Tank/What Would You Do?/ 20 20 as a Friday lineup

Spot said...

I pretty much agree with what you've said here. Moving The Middle and making The Goldbergs the 8:00 anchor should be on the radar to give a promising new sitcom some good support. And while The Middle would be dinged in a move, most likely to Tuesday, it's a known product that's self-started for its whole run (season one at 8:30 had quickly-pulled Hank and Modern Family repeats as lead-ins). As for Fresh off the Boat...I really don't know. Will ABC just double-pump episodes in the Winter (Tuesdays at 8:00) and treat it as a gap series a la Galavant? Feels more likely than shrinking Dancing with the Stars or The Bachelor, or quickly running through the orders for black-ish or The Goldbergs.

No reason to think right now that TGIT as-is won't return the same way in 2015-2016; even if Secrets & Lies blows Murder out of the water (unlikely) ABC should use that show for a problem slot on Sundays or Wednesdays. But since How to Get Away with Murder is ending its season in late February/early March, all I ask is that ABC at least rerun it over the summer somewhere to keep the show in viewers' minds. If Motive's not coming back, then slot it on Wednesdays since I'm assuming ABC's going to continue to do reality show/generic-Canadian-co-production/Rookie Blue on Thursdays next summer.

The pickup for Forever is mystifying to me. I guess because it's kept a 1.x rating, and compared to how badly ABC was at 10:00 Tuesdays last season, it gets a full year. If that's the case, the show needs to move. Swapping American Crime's time-slot with Forever is a possibility. But maybe Forever should swap with Castle instead once Dancing with the Stars comes back in the Spring if State of Affairs doesn't hold muster.

I still think True is undercounting the value of America's Funniest Home Videos when you consider how poorly ABC Sundays do when it's absent (excepting night-long special events like The Oscars). But maybe it's something that can't be done, or maybe ABC is just preeempting the show for the wrong specials. I definitely didn't except to see it skew so male, though, especially considering it faces the tail end of the late afternoon NFL games.

And I have a perverse wish that Nashville just completely melts down over this season just to really test this syndication mentality. Considering that ABC didn't want 22 episodes and didn't want to air it in the Fall this year, it has more strikes against it internally. And if it's renewed for a fourth season, where does it go?

Spot said...

This could come off as incredibly pandering and borderline offensive if read the wrong way, but I would put American Crime on Wednesdays at 10:00. The optics for such a thing would not be great ("ABC's blatantly playing the race card by putting a racially-tinged drama after its minority-fronted sitcom!"), but by the numbers black-ish is a stronger lead-in and ChiPD & Stalker are weaker than ChiFi & Person of Interest.

Spot said...

Beyond the Tank has only 10 episodes order. Then, what I will do (and what I think ABC will do) is: Order 3 more episodes of Cristela. Air 16 weeks of Last Mand Standing / Cristela, followed by 3 weeks of double pumped LMS. Premiere Beyond the Tank in early March (it's officially announced few weeks ago, it hardly can be ready much earlier, if at all), Beyond the Tank would be perfect lead-in for Shark Tank (unless it flops, but that we don't know).

Spot said...

I heard number 55% mentioned. But, yes, that number is probably with sports included.

Spot said...

Finally. Thanks a lot for gender skew. Next year, hopefully 18-34 ratings too (I know, I know - it depends on actually having source for it). And thanks a lot for all other things.
And power ratings came out just when I'm up to my neck in work. So, just few quick observations, instead of my usual unnecessary-long comment.

Nashville - I finally understand "last one-third of results this season" logic. It ranks Nashville as 7th strongest ABC drama currently, which is logical. By complete season average it would be lower, which wouldn't pass eye test. Sure, we must first see how midseason dramas will do, but as it stands, Nashville is by current ratings (and counting in those numerous tax credits that makes show relatively cheap), clear likely renewal. Who'd thunk it?

Last Man Standing / Cristela renewal - heavily depends on if ABC will have 3 or 4 comedy blocks net year. Which is too early to tell.

Moving some Wednesday comedy to Tuesday next fall - heavily depends much on quality of ABC comedy pilots. Which is too early to tell.

Spot said...

Is gender a part of the true formula now? Old true formula would say Scandal's lead in would be 96% if led into Shield. Gender skews would make that be waaaaaayyyyy less

Spot said...

Not this year. Possible add for next year, though I'll need some test cases for how shows react to big gender changes in lead-in. (Which is another reason to root for a Forever move!)

Spot said...

I'll just discuss what you brought up:

ABC Wednesday next season:
It's hard to really say what will happen. ABC only had one surefire comedy hit this season, and even then part of it had to do with it airing after Modern Family. One was stuck on Fridays, two were thrown to the wolves, and one is stuck in midseason and probably will get a How to Live/Apt. 23 treatment, and even then that's unlikely given how all of their comedies on Wednesday have the same 24 count. And Blackish has done well, great even, but is it strong enough to anchor? Modern Family is still going strong, albeit going down with the league average, so it can push a new comedy. But one of them will have to go. Goldbergs is doing very impressive, so it and Modern will stay, but it's very much a foot race between Middle and Blackish, and I'm against both being anchors. Middle is the weakest ABC comedy and would probably do mid 1's on Tuesday or wherever they plan to put it. Blackish is brand new and hasn't done huge gangbusters a la Scandal. But it'll probably depend on the pilots next year.

Last Man Standing is doing relatively well. It hasn't gone that far down year-to-year, but those long Fox negotiations mean that another season is still 50/50 to me. Cristela is doing middle of the road, and all depends on how the weeks pan out. Maybe an extension until Beyond the Tank arrives (that is, if it goes to Fridays).

It'll stay intact definitely, even if Secrets and Lies beats Murder out of the water. In fact, it's even better since ABC will win Thursday 2 seasons in a row.

Agents of SHIELD:
As long as the MCU is staying strong, then SHIELD will too...okay, I don't expect it to last until 2019, but it'll probably be renewed. Revenge might eke out a renewal, but Resurrection isn't looking too hot.

Will get a final 22-episode season, will bomb in syndication, but at least they tried.

Beyond the Tank: Well, I'd say it'll be Fridays-bound. Forever will probably stay put for a while, Whispers will most likely fill the Tues 8 slot, and all the other nights are filled.

Spot said...

The Goldbergs and Grey's are certainly the most pleasant surprises for ABC this season.

Spot said...

ABC should go much stronger into the post OUAT show IMO. It should be one of their top priority slots right now and next year. A low rated show would not be a suitable answer to that as buzz would be minimal IMO. Launching it there maybe wouldn't have been an awful idea but moving it there now I don't like. I would rather see them going with Astronaut Wives Club there and doing Forever | Shield | Whispers on Tuesdays just to see if Forever could keep its low 1s at 8 and give Shield some casual tune in.

Spot said...

I don't think it would fit well with Shield at all. The Whispers should go to that slot. The only slot I like for AC is Wednesdays at 10 but I don't even like that one that much. I am not sold on the show working on broadcast TV at all though, so that probably has something to do with it.

Spot said...

I expect LMS to have 24 episodes this season since it would end the season at 86 otherwise (still acceptable for syndication but I assume 88 would be better) and since it already did a double premiere anyway which I assume was with that goal in mind. But it's a minor point.

Spot said...

I have the same perverse wish with Nashville to be honest.

Regarding Forever, I don't think doing Forever | Shield | Whispers would be that horrible of an idea. If Forever could keep its low 1s audience at 8 it could fuel some minimal amount of casual audience into Shield which is something I feel that show needs and at least it would stabilize the slot for ABC for the time being while allowing them to focus on the more promising Whispers at 10pm (assuming that show is indeed promising).

Spot said...

I have been keeping track of the 18-34 and all the other demos for the entire season this year so feel free to ask me if you want to know them for some particular shows!

Regarding the move of Wednesday comedies to Tuesdays, I agree 100% with that. I tall depends on development, 100%.

Spot said...

I don't disagree with that idea either. But it'll come down to if ABC thinks The Whispers is worth not throwing into the NCIS/Voice/Flash fray. It actually could be why Forever got a full-season order: now the show will have enough episodes to carry them through to May in the earlier hour. Canceling Forever would have meant ABC has two hour-long holes to plug and would hurt SHIELD even more.

Unless ABC develops something to pair with SHIELD, I think that moving it to 10:00 next season would be best. If it's going to continue marching to the beat of its own drum demo & skew-wise, similar to how Lost did during its run, then it's just not going to be much help to any show. And it's become one of those second-string dramas that should be at 10:00 so more promising shows can have one of the higher HUT hours.

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