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
|The Wednesday Four|
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.
|The Friday Two|
|5||Last Man Standing||1.60||1.15||-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.)
|The Tuesday Dunzo|
|8||Manhattan Love Story||1.10||0.80||37%||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.
|Shonda & Elsa|
|2||How to Get Away with Murder||2.65||2.85||36%||25%|
|3||Once Upon a Time||2.60||2.50||+20%||45%||36%|
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.
|The Second Tier|
|5||Agents of SHIELD||1.83||1.65||-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.
|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.
|2||Dancing with the Stars Fall||2.07||1.97||-9%||20%||28%|
|4||America's Funniest Home Videos||1.46||1.20||-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.