Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CBS 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.

These rankings include results through Sunday, November 2.

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

CBS ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
Still #1
1The Big Bang Theory4.344.40-10%37%47%

I never remembered to mention this at the time, but in late October I thought CBS should have given some real consideration to leaving The Big Bang Theory on Monday. It seemed to be helping Scorpion, a series with more early potential than pretty much any new comedy CBS has aired alongside Big Bang. Fortunately, Scorpion has been all right so far, but I'm not sure this idea should be all the way off the table if CBS stays in the Thursday Night Football business. That in-season move is going to have to keep happening if Bang stays on Thursday, and the jerk-around might become more detrimental as the show gets past its peak. It hasn't gone all that well even this season.

CBS ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Other Anchors
22 Broke Girls2.542.40-14%36%42%
3Two and a Half Men2.142.40-17%30%50%

Dangerous to say this with more 2BG ratings coming out just an hour after publication, but... if there's been a "winner" in the very early returns from the CBS comedy department this season, it's 2 Broke Girls. Its average above will drop a good bit from where it is now since only the premiere is included, and still probably won't be much better than projected preseason. But it's looked like a worthy comedy anchor so far, continuing how it fared after How I Met Your Mother ended last season. Once Two and a Half Men ends, comedies on this level will be in very short supply on CBS (and on broadcast TV, for that matter).

CBS ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
M is for "Meh"
5The Millers1.661.70-40%30%41%
6The McCarthys1.481.7027%47%

Mom has done better with a Big Bang lead-in than The Millers, but that is really not saying much, and only the premiere is included above. If it ends up just a bit ahead of The Millers, I could see CBS following through on its announced January switch. Mom is still looking like second-tier, bottom-of-the-hour material right now.

CBS DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Proven Elites
2Criminal Minds2.272.40-10%29%34%

It's worth noting that the formula might be a teeny bit biased against 9:00 shows in general, as seen in the large discrepancy here between NCIS and Criminal Minds. But perhaps the bigger problem is I've never felt Minds is as compatible with Survivor as the formula says, a problem that has persisted for years. The gender numbers illuminate this a bit; Minds is the network's most female-skewing show, while Survivor leans a bit more male than average. I would say the gap between these shows is probably "truly" somewhere between A18-49's one tenth and True's four tenths. Either way, they're both still doing fine, though NCIS seems past its peak and Minds had a weak outing against the CMAs last week.

CBS DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Potential Elites
4NCIS: New Orleans2.162.3518%41%

CBS loved its 2014-15 drama class, and so far it's lived up to the hype pretty well. The network hasn't developed many dramas in the last seven years that showed even a glimmer of hope to become an NCIS/Criminal Minds-level player (the last one was probably Person of Interest), and Scorpion is still hanging in that vicinity. Plus-wise, it's pretty close to the fall episodes of PoI's first season. That show had a big surge in January, but the same thing probably shouldn't be ruled out for Scorpion. The Voice and Dancing will leave the mix in favor of The Bachelor and Celebrity Apprentice, much more favorable competitors skew-wise.

Meanwhile, I will maintain that the premiere rating for NCIS: New Orleans was a disappointment, but that was probably the worst point in the trajectory of the show thus far. It has held very well since then, perhaps even settling a little bit better than where Los Angeles would've been here. Even if LA's Monday 10/9c ratings haven't been great, the huge improvement vs. Hostages/Intelligence plus another LA-sized player in this slot is a win for CBS.

CBS DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Syndication Factory
5NCIS: Los Angeles1.711.65-37%24%41%
7Blue Bloods1.601.20-12%14%41%
9Person of Interest1.591.60-22%21%47%
10Madam Secretary1.581.6016%43%
11The Good Wife1.581.43-6%17%40%
12Hawaii Five-01.531.10-18%16%43%

This is what happens when a network goes at least seven years without developing an elite drama, yet the network is hesitant to cancel veterans because cable/streaming entities keep (in my relatively uninformed opinion) egregiously overpaying for syndication rights. There's a sense that CBS is not really programming for first-run ratings anymore, and who can blame them when people are shelling out three million bucks an episode for friggin' Elementary? Throw in upcoming The Mentalist and CBS has literally a double-digit number of shows in this territory, and it probably won't be small first-run rating differences making the decisions here. And yet, I still have a lot to say...

If anything might separate itself from this pack in a good way, the smartest money could be on NCIS: Los Angeles. It already grades out the highest due to competition from The Blacklist and Monday Night Football, and it may be poised to benefit once they depart.

If history is any indication, the show most likely to end is CSI, mostly because of tea leaf-reading its reduction to 18 episodes. I could make an argument about this show's rotten situation the same way I often did for The Mentalist last year (though last Sunday's 1.2, not included above, hurts). And just speaking from a general historical perspective, it's pretty surprising that this iconic show wouldn't get multiple Sunday seasons if CSI: Miami and The Mentalist both did.

But there may be a more pressing need for that Sunday hour: namely, CBS may need a really low priority slot in which to burn through the rest of Elementary's run. Its 1.2 start was such an epic disaster that it seemed like a potential redux of Hawaii Five-0's premiere a couple seasons ago: a blip that would end up being the lowest point for most of the season. But the 1.2 held last week. Maybe it will rise eventually; after all, How to Get Away with Murder and football (and The McCarthys) won't be here forever. Right now, it's looking like a very long season.

Speaking of Sunday, let's talk about Madam Secretary. This show's performance has gotten a bit overblown because of how low the expectations were; it's still about 25% behind what CBS was getting out of The Amazing Race last year. But there are some things to like here; it makes up some of that deficit vs. TAR because it really seems to have stabilized The Good Wife. (Only Big Bang-inflated Mom is faring better year-to-year among CBS returnees!) I don't have hard data on this, but it seems pretty likely that a good bit more of the 60 Minutes audience is now staying tuned all the way through the end of The Good Wife. The flow is maximizing the potential of these shows, whereas a more demo-leaning series in this slot would be mismatched with its surroundings and thus not maximized. In other words, if CBS insists on surrendering Sunday to some degree, they could do worse than this setup. Barring a 60 Minutes cancellation, at least there's not a major opportunity being lost, which is more than can be said for...

...Stalker. The show didn't hold up that badly post-premiere, but there's really no denying it's just another member of this ten-drama logjam at best, and CBS doesn't really need more shows at this level. And Wednesday 10/9c still seems ripe for a new show with potential. I thought this show could've easily ended after 13 eps. When it got the back nine, it still seemed quite possible it could air out the last couple months on Friday. But with The Amazing Race slated for another Friday run (another iffy decision), Stalker has apparently got Wednesday 10/9c for the season. I can't really imagine that CBS is feeling positive about Stalker, so I can only read it as a lack of confidence in the Battle Creeks and CSI: Cybers of the world...

CBS UnscriptedTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
1Survivor Fall2.272.20-4%33%43%
260 Minutes1.642.30-11%21%55%
3The Amazing Race Fall1.471.05-43%25%41%
448 Hours1.130.65-14%21%39%

To loop this back around to the Monday/Thursday Big Bang discussion from the beginning: if CBS gets Thursday Night Football again (maybe even for 16 weeks) and thus keeps Big Bang on Monday all season, what does that leave them with on Thursday? Not much. They certainly can't throw two hours of comedy on and call it a day. Unless something big changes, they can barely scrape together two competent-rated hours of comedy on the whole schedule. (And the only thing that could really change is The Odd Couple popping at midseason.)

So what would they do? The short answer is "get creative." In the last years of ABC's relationship with Monday Night Football, they threw on seasonal and short-order stuff like Wife Swap, Supernanny and Dancing with the Stars. CBS may have to develop something new, but they also have pieces like The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss that could fit that bill as well. (Survivor could eventually qualify, but it's too strong to limit to one season right now.) It'd also be a potential spot for limited-run dramas, though that may have to be restricted to the 10/9c hour as long as Scandal and The Blacklist are tangling at 9/8c.


Spot said...

I love how Stalker was accused of hating women, so it attracted mostly... Women. Shows with mostly female victims (SVU, Criminal Minds, Dateline, Stalker, Etc.) all seem to skew super female. So the AV Club seems to have scared off the men by saying Stalker hates woman.

Spot said...

Thanks for this. This really helps sort out CBS' drama race. It makes their sudden giving up on CSI look crazier

Spot said...

Re: Syndication.

Outlets are certainly paying a lot of money, but we don't have the numbers to say they are overpaying.

There is, afterall, a very limited supply of episodic dramas. Let's say 1 or 2 per year, and there's a good half-a-dozen outlets all competing for these shows. Demand outrates supply and so prices rise.

In the case of WGN America, it's likely a deliberate strategy to overpay. They want to acquire more high-profile content to raise their profile, get the channel into more households, and make money through carriage fees. Looking up the last available numbers, WGN America is currently only in roughly 65% of households compared with 86% for networks like USA Network, FX and Lifetime.

And when you see the ratings of their originals, perhaps this isn't such a bad strategy. WGN America probably paid $2m+/ep for Salem and Manhattan, plus the cost of ad campaigns, to get ratings in the range of 0.1.

Spot said...

But remember, Stalker is airing after Criminal Minds. And it's not unreasonable to think that Stalker skews more towards females because of its lead-in (which it follows in overall skew, too). This may be a case of audience inertia.

Spot said...

I seriously doubt CBS will get Thursday Night Football for more than 8 weeks. The NFL doesn't want to risk losing its NFL Network carriage fee money. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if the NFL renews the current 8-game deal on a year-to-year basis.

Spot said...

I do think CBS needs to decide whether to be in the Thursday Night Football business full-time or not going forward. But that is going to come down to whatever business position the NFL decides to take; the long game for NFL Network should be to draft a multi-year deal with CBS to keep raising the visibility of its network and eventually not renew a deal to force viewers to add the channel and rake in more money in retransmission fees from cable/satellite providers. As it relates to CBS it could give them a multi-year, partial season solution, and really puts the screws to NBC and Fox, but it leaves them vulnerable to what NBC goes through every Spring on Sundays and what ABC had on Mondays

Spot said...

If I were CBS, this is what I would do for next year
Note: This is before I saw Monday's ratings which hurt some of my anchors in the schedule
60 Minutes
Person of Interest
The Good Wife (Final Season)
2 Broke Girls
Mike & Molly
Criminal Minds
Mike & Molly
The Big Bang Theory
Undercover Boss/Amazing Race (timeshare)
CSI (final season)/Hawaii 5-0 (final season) (timeshare)
Blue Bloods

Spot said...

Justification by night.
Elementary/Person of Interest/Good Wife make a critically loved syndication night. And who am I kidding, Person of Interest is getting a worse slot than The Good Wife, but a boy can dream.

Spot said...

I was just saying the shows that sensationalize violence towards women and are called misogyny don't seem to deter the gender supposedly being degraded. I've seen a few episodes of Stalker and all I got was a resounding "meh". It's basically a Criminal Minds wannabe without the likable characters

Spot said...

Do you have the gender ratings for Thursday Night Football? I'm guess its heavily male. I can't see 60 Minutes being 55% male without the Football injection.

Spot said...

Comedies: in January I would do
Mon: 2 Broke Girls / Mike & Molly
Thu; TBBT / Millers / TAAHM / Mom

Already in December in case The McCarthys would fall to 1.3- during November.

The Millers - I don't want it behind Big Bang, but Moonves wants it there,
The Odd Couple - somewhere in March, its' too early to bother myself with it now.

Spot said...

Dramas: I see it as race of 4 dramas for 2 renewals: CSI / Hawaii Five-0 / Madam Secretary / CSI: Cyber

cancelled: Stalker, Battle Creek (when CBS brass expects it would rate worse than Stalker)
safe: Elementary / Blue Bloods / NCIS: Los Angeles / The Good Wife (perhaps short season renewal)
kinda safe: Person of Interest - like, they never cancel weekday show. But it's not from CBS Productions show, so who knows.

Anyway, cancellation 2 of above listed 4 dramas would free one spot on weekend for Elementary, and CBS could launch two new dramas in fall (Wed 10 PM & Thu 10 PM).

It looks that simple to me. Though there exist variations no a theme:
- 3 of 4 renewed with only 1 new fall drama (Madam or Cyber moving to weekday)
- 2 of 4 renewed with 3 new fall dramas (Good Wife pushed to midseason, PoI moved to weekend, 3rd new drama at Tue 10 PM)
- 3 of 4 renewed with 2 new fall drama (Good Wife pushed to midseason, PoI stays on Tuesday)

Spot said...

I'll just talk about what you brought up:

Comedies midseason: McCarthys is definitely canceled by January. I thought about Mike and Molly after Men, but seeing Millers' doing disastrous and possibly hurting their biggest drama success since Person of Interest, it seems that Millers and Mom will in fact switch slots in January. But of course, there's also Mike and Molly and Odd Couple to think about. The latter could get a late-spring release, but would CBS throw a show they own, a comedy nonetheless, to the wolves a la Bad Teacher and FWBL? Mike and Molly I do believe will be coming in January, either Thursday or Monday, but I still can't decide.

The remaining dramas:

This is always one of the more boring ones. Different procedurals all doing average, but none that deserve a pull-me status. Of the veterans, it's a race between CSI and Hawaii Five-0. CSI is being treated like a red-headed stepchild with the cut episode count and it being by far the longest-running show on the network, while Five-0, while on Friday, is the lowest drama of the bunch and already has a syndication deal so it's not in Elementary's world. Elementary is Friday-bound, potentially this season, while NCIS: LA, Blue Bloods, Good Wife, and maybe Person of Interest will stay in their time slots. Stalker is done for, and Madam Secretary is 50/50, but it seems to be keeping Good Wife relatively stable. It's still down year-to-year, but it's going down slowly. Cyber and Battle Creek are mysteries.

Thursday next season:

Oy, the tough one. If TNF comes to CBS, there's the question if the Eye will expand on the episodes? NFL Network probably still wants some games to itself or the channel would be pointless. I like your idea of reality filler, though Boss and Race are only two shows, and Survivor and Big Brother are unlikely to budge anytime soon. Maybe another cheap reality? Of course that also depends on the comedy lineup next season. We already have Big Bang renewed and 2 Broke Girls as definite, maybe Mike and Molly, and a race between Mom and Millers. Millers is doing far worse than the other vets, but will CBS choose a show they own or a creator they love? And again, Odd Couple.

Spot said...

Yeah, I've always found it a little odd that it's rarely mentioned that these sorts of shows appeal to women. When discussed, the implication is usually that they're watched by men who relish watching violence against women.

Spot said...

I believe CBS is having a season that perfectly reflects the horrible development seasons they've had for years now (both with dramas and with comedies I would say). Yes, their new players (Scorpion, New Orleans and even Madam Secretary) are doing very well for them which is great but they have an abundance of problems everywhere else which is the reflection of continued terrible development seasons (Hostages/Intelligence), moves that didn't work out (comedy expansion, POI to 10pm) and focus on syndication (The Millers, Elementary). I echo the sentiment that you've referred about CBS becoming more and more a syndication farm and I feel that The Millers will be a big test for that. Unlike the middling dramas they've tolerated on Fridays and Sundays, there is no place for a comedy on the weekend rotation so keeping TM would mean putting up with it on a weekday slot and dragging whichever show airs after it with it. Their numbers don't actually look too bad so far (down 8% year to year and barely behind ABC and CBS for the leadership) on a first look but they are worse than they look considering they've hid the Tuesday lineup up until very recently and had Big Bang on Mondays to prop it up. As this effect gets diluted, I expect the numbers to get worse as well. To me, they are probably one of the most interesting networks to watch in the upfronts because they will clearly have to make a choice between whether they wish to continue to program for syndication or for first run airings. Elsewhere, they are also doing some very puzzling decisions such as the Stalker backorder and, especially, the second cycle of TAR airing in season instead of summer which is truly bizarre seeing how awful that show is doing (and there is no syndication argument to be made there...)

Not much individual comments to be made on top of this. On the comedy front, 2 Broke Girls is indeed doing better or at least as good as could have been expected and Mom is underperforming ,sadly. The McCarthys is the bomb it was always destined to be. On the drama side, I agree with everything, especially the MS comment regarding the overall Sunday flow. And while I am usually the one to argue the most against anything that involves expectations when judging the performance of a show, I still can't help but feeling that CBS couldn't have honestly expected much better.

Spot said...

Well put, nice arguments there.

Spot said...

I still feel that FOX should have done everything in their power and then some to get those games. It would solve a huge chunck of their problems.

Spot said...

I have been arguing for a very long time that Mike and Molly will indeed be the one to go to Mondays, not Mom. But I expect Millers post TAAHM and not Mom, though you may be right, I dunno. But the millers would certainly get a spot in the top most fraudulent shows on TV ever if CBS really dared to put it after TBBT again. That show should be cancelled.

Spot said...

CBS is a very interesting place, to me. Their 10 PM slate is dire. Their comedies are weakening. Their spin-off dramas aren't holding up as well. There is a lot wrong in their schedules, but relative to everything except ABC Thursdays, it's pretty strong. It's tough to separate out how much of the decline is the general fall of network TV and how much is poor decision making. They have given their new dramas every chance to succeed, and yet by next week, all of them could be drawing under 2.0. It may not matter if they keep getting these lucrative syndication deals, but with Hawaii Five-O being dropped from TNT and Elementary likely struggling to stay above 1.0 for another 44 episodes, I don't see that as a given.

As for football, I would get as many games as possible and then run specials from November to Christmastime. I Get That A Lot. Funniest Commercials. Maybe a game show. Not necessarily surrendering, but showing that the network has priorities, one being keeping what's left of their comedy block strong on Mondays. Does anyone really see CBS screwing around with Big Bang Theory's scheduling after this season?

Spot said...

The NFL 18-49 audience is about two-thirds male/one-third female. I would think that has a big effect on 60 Minutes' skew, though it has actually leaned very slightly male even on non-overrun nights. There could be regional overruns making the difference in those cases, so the early 2015 eps will be the better test.

Spot said...

And The Millers is cancelled, that pester is exterminated according to deadline.

Then everything should be clear, no? Soon, it should be:
Mon: 2 Broke Girls / Mike & Molly
Thu: TBBT / Mom / TAAHM / The Odd Couple.

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