Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fox 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 9.
More November True Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW

Fox ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Animated Anchors
1The Simpsons2.122.50+20%58%59%
2Family Guy1.922.15+28%76%57%

That Simpsons/Family Guy crossover on Premiere Sunday was something to behold, and those numbers count, but they have created y2y trends that are not that representative of reality, and they're probably not going to be representative of reality even at the end of the season. If it airs as many originals as last season, Family Guy needs to average only about a 1.8 the rest of the way to drop just 10% for the season, even though that 1.8 would be down over 20% from what Guy did from this point forward. Or it could average a 2.1 the rest of the way and break even for the season, even though that would be down 10%+ over that period. In other words, wherever Family Guy ends up, the y2y trend will be about 10 points higher due to premiere night alone. That's a staggering difference.

The Simpsons' 20% growth is not as driven by premiere night (it was only up year-to-year by half as much, and only a single-length episode), though four of its six episodes had the direct NFL lead-in vs. just two of the first six last year. Its number will probably still be somewhat inflated at season's end, but it's at least done a little better than Guy even on the non-overrun nights, not yet dipping below 2.0. We'll see if that continues once The Walking Dead clears out of Family Guy's slot.

Fox ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Second Tier
3Bob's Burgers1.531.50-27%62%53%
4Brooklyn Nine-Nine1.511.80+22%62%57%
5New Girl1.461.40-33%66%43%
6The Mindy Project1.141.20-24%60%35%

Before MasterChef Junior premiered, you could legitimately say that Brooklyn Nine-Nine getting second-tier animation numbers was Fox's second-biggest win of the season behind Gotham. That says much more about Fox than it does about Nine-Nine. But so far this show has been OK, and it's fit in pretty nicely on Sunday skew-wise. Most of its True numbers have actually been higher than the average above, but this may be more representative of what happens when the NFL overrun help is permanently gone.

New Girl is middling on the Fox hierarchy in A18-49, which means it should be safe for renewal since it always vastly overachieves its A18-49 ratings in ad rates. The Mindy Project is once again decidedly below middling in A18-49, but it also vastly overachieves its A18-49 ratings in ad rates. Tracking -24% year-to-year would be a damaging trend on most networks, but Fox is in such a sad state that it's barely losing any ground. Even at a very low-1 rating, Fox has seen 4.5 of its 5.5 newbie hours rate significantly worse, and that's before accounting for Mindy's favorable skew! Can it get through yet another renewal finish line, or were there also "Kevin Reilly pet project" motivations that made the difference in the past? As long as it keeps overachieving in ad rates, and it did it again this year, I will always be very hesitant to count this show out.

Fox ComediesTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Dunzo

Not sure why the Mulaney move to 7:30 took so long. As time passes on broadcast TV, pull-me-now situations are inherently tougher to find due to the weakening of repeats. But as a part of one of the best-repeating blocks on TV, this was certainly one of them. Maybe it only survived because Fox can't be bothered to air original Family Guy and needed the repeats for the regular slot...

Fox DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Elite

Gotham has been trending about the same as last year's Sleepy Hollow in A18-49+ terms. It'll probably end up lower due to the longer episode order. But on a network that is (being generous) 10% weaker relative to the big four average, Fox will take it very happily. Their next task is to find a way to avoid the sophomore slump that has plagued this kind of show lately.

Fox DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Veterans
2Sleepy Hollow1.551.63-41%45%50%

Sleepy Hollow has fit pretty cleanly into the "limited series" mold of The Following and Under the Dome from a year-to-year standpoint, which is a big disappointment. At the very least, the Gotham lead-in should've helped it do somewhat better, and the network still promotes this show very heavily during the NFL. But it's still getting Fox's third-biggest ratings from Monday to Friday. If The Following could get a third season, it's hard right now to see Hollow ending. The cupboard is just too bare on the network.

Bones is the other show like Castle that randomly fell off a cliff just before the numbers included in the average above. In the first month of the season, the show's 1.6 average on Thursday was arguably one of the network's biggest positives. 1.3 seems like a different story. Fox won't have enough players with higher ratings than Bones to fill its 2015-16 schedule, but costs become a concern in this marginal territory.

Fox DramasTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
The Other Newbies
4Red Band Society1.110.9540%33%

In a season with Utopia, Gracepoint and Mulaney, Red Band Society is somehow Fox's second-strongest newbie. But at this 18-49 rating level, its only prayer is that it has a The Mindy Project-esque demographic profile, warranting ad rates vastly ahead of its A18-49 ratings. Just looking at the type of show it is, that wouldn't seem impossible, and it does skew reasonably female (more than anything on the network this fall, including New Girl and Mindy). But the age and 18-34 skew are not as impressive. It is very unlikely to be enough.

Fox UnscriptedTrueA18-49y2ySkew%Male
1MasterChef Junior1.761.80+13%45%39%
2Hell's Kitchen1.421.30-21%45%45%
3Utopia Tue1.030.8059%n/a
4Utopia Fri1.000.6345%42%

I'm headed for another season of underestimating MasterChef Junior by 40%ish, so congrats to that show. What it pulled off last fall was very impressive by Fox Friday standards, but I looked at how Bones fared in its return to the midweek and just didn't see this coming. As a non-viewer, I've always kinda considered the MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen brands to be interchangeable, but this fall has certainly put that thinking to bed.


Spot said...

Only two shows with True averages (barely) above the 2s... We're in for a long season Fox...

Spot said...

The best thing that Fox has done this season is extended Gotham's order to make it a full 22 episode season. I had concerns that it was going to follow the limited-series model, especially considering how many replacement shows were in the midseason queue at the upfront. But with Hieroglyph being pre-canceled and two of the hours being Glee and The Following, the new execs rightly recognized that they couldn't end Gotham early.

While it's a pleasant surprise, I'm still a little mystified how MasterChef Junior is doing so much better than Hell's Kitchen. Is the kids aspect enough to freshen up the concept? Is Hell's Kitchen just the weaker brand in general? I almost want to not count the minimal gaps between seasons since both MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen got about 2 months off, but, again, maybe it's the Junior component that makes it different enough.

That Bob's Burgers is outranking Mulaney by nearly double in this comparison, and by half a point looking at all episodes, in a less advantageous slot makes sticking with Mulaney as long as Fox did just more idiotic. You can't even point to an outrageous skew in general a la The Mindy Project or male skew specifically. This was audience rejection, and even on Fox's schedule right now this was a late call.

If Red Band Society is hovering around a 1.x now, I don't see how it would continue to do so if it somehow stuck around through the rest of the season unless Idol contracts enough to lead out of two shows in the Winter/Spring (the other being Empire). Given how hard up Fox is ratings, that's unlikely to happen.

And if New Girl is safe thanks to overachieving in the sub demos, then I have to think that The Mindy Project is as well just because the post-New Girl slot isn't some huge wasted opportunity.

Spot said...

Oh Fox... I don't even know what comment to make. They are in such a bad state, it's pitiful to even look at them.

This being said, I do believe that it's possible that they turn it around relatively quick (and quicker than NBC did) for the simple fact that they don't program the 10pm hour, which means the number of shows they need to find that are suitable enough to air is way more reduced. IMO, they should, at midseason, focus on three big goals
1) ensuring that Gotham stays afloat,which means a decent schedule and continued promotion
2) guaranteeing that Idol remains a viable player in the future; while it will probably never be anywhere close to what it once was, it would be a big win for FOX if they could turn it into a DWTS type of reliable player that continues to hang in there and take care of complicated nights for them
3) getting behind one of their many midseason projects (ideally a drama, but whatever they feel more confident about), in terms of schedule and promotion (in their case I feel it's better to go all in in one thing they feel confident about than to try to accommodate everything scheduling and promotion wise and be left with nothing).

As for their current shows:
- B99 is a nice surprise for them and while I love the safety of having the show on Sundays and not having to worry about its ratings, I imagine they might try it as an anchor on another night if they have another male skewing comedy they like and if they have another cartoon to replace it with. But the odds of both of these things happening at the same time are not that big, so we'll see.
- New Girl is doing as well as could be expected IMO, I think it will still be renewed relatively comfortably. Mindy is a harder call but I also wouldn't bet against it, especially when another season would put it in syndicated territory.
- Sleepy Hollow is indeed a disappointment but it should still get renewed. I suspect it pairs with Bones next season somewhere, assuming that show also gets renewed, which is indeed an issue at such a marginal territory. That 1.7 a few weeks ago was almost a certain renewal for me, but a 1.3 is a different story.
- Masterchef Jr. is one of the biggest surprises of the fall and I am almost sure FOX will air it twice a year now and probably try to extend its order for next season.

FOX would probably be okay with a schedule like this for next fall:
Monday: Gotham + Highest priority newbie
Tuesday: Masterchef Jr + New Girl + Mindy
Wednesday: Bones + Sleepy Hollow
Thursday: Renewed Midseason Drama (Empire, Backstorm, Wayward Pines) + New Drama
Sunday: Comedy block

Spot said...

While I think Mindy will also probably be renewed, in regards to your last comment I would note that it should be on the table to make New Girl a bottom of the hour comedy and a new comedy the anchor.

Spot said...

I would like to see Masterchef Jr lead into something other than New Girl. New Girls spike following its premiere seemed to be competition related than lead in related

Spot said...

I haven't decided which one it was because this week it had abnormally high competition too (the voice). I want to see it in a week with normal competition (Marry Me, Shield, NO, Supernatural) and with the Masterchef Jr. lead-in before deciding.

Spot said...

You also said just comedy block for Sunday. Is that Simpsons/99/Family/Bordertown with Bob's back at 7:30? Bob's back at 9:30? Something new? I think Zooey D is making an animated comedy

Spot said...

Red Band Society - I think it's dead. Indeed, it skews favorable, it's W18-34 ratings are something like 20% higher than A18-49. But only 0.9-1.0 in A18-49 means only 1.1-1.2 W18-34. Fox is weak, but not so weak to renew something like that. Ratings needed to be 1.2-1.3 A18-49 (and W18-34 at 1.5-1.6) to put it into contention. The way it is, it's dead, especially given the fact it didn't get back order.

New Girl - 99.99% sure renewal.

The Mindy Project - I think it can survive only if Fox returns second Tuesday comedy block. A new brooms sweeps clean, new bosses must show there is reason they're in charge now. There be a lot of new shows, and I cannot see this situation happens: only 1 comedy block (Mon-Thu) with no rookies. In that case, it will be New Girl and a rookie. What I can see is: 2 comedy blocks with 2 or 3 veterans.
Yes, Mindy skews well, but is not comparable with New Girl - ratings are 15% lower, Mindy has no syndication deal (New Girl - MTV/TBS), Mindy earns some peanuts from Hulu (New Girl earls almost a million per episode from lucrative Netflix deal). So far, TMP averages around 1.4 W18-34, and that's OK ratings for current Fox. But that's bound to drop, and where they would put it if Tuesday remains with only one comedy block? Anyway, we will be able to read tea leaves. Mindy has 15 episodes order, ans if it's not extended to usual 22, things will start to look really bleak.

All in all, with the change of regime it would be normal to except bubble shows to be axed in bunches. But with so poor state of the network, they'll have to renew some of those. Probably Bones (reliable), and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (halfway to syndication after this season). Kinda too early to say, because Fox has so many midseason shows to premiere. None of those feels like hit, but whose to say one/more won't turn out to be OK player?

Spot said...

At this point I think there's more potential upside in New Comedy #2 leading out of a new anchor than New Girl would experience (see this Tuesday's result where New Girl dropped even though MasterChef Junior held steady). But because 20th Century also produces New Girl, and it's one that was created under the new execs watch, it's likely they want to ring as many episodes out as they can before it's too untenable for the network's health.

Spot said...

There's been no official decision about Red Band Society's back order. They have a script order, which obviously doesn't mean anything, but FOX hasn't said anything either way.

Spot said...

So, in already too long comment, I need to edit "didn't get back order" to "didn't get back order so far, and it's extremely unlikely it would get it so late in the game", just to please random delusional fan of the show?

Spot said...

FOX has so few good pieces right now that it is hard to come up with a decent schedule for next year. I'm going to try.

The Simpsons
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Family Guy
Bob's Burgers (Bordertown midseason)
New Girl
Zoey D animated comedy
Bones (final season)
Sleepy Hollow
Masterchef Junior
NEW DRAMA or Empire
Repeats and such. If Backstorm is a hit, move it to Wednesday and Bones here.
It's not the best schedule, but FOX isn't giving me much to work with. All comments or criticism welcomed

Spot said...

The limited series model doesn't seem to be working for FOX. ABC's doing it right with slightly larger seasons split in two, as opposed to FOX running them all with shorter interruptions.

I will never understand how New Girl and Mindy Project justify their existence. Surely other shows get a similar number of 18-34 women PLUS other audiences.

Spot said...

Fox should consider sitcoms on Wednesdays or Thursday next season. On Wednesday the main competition is ABC's family comedies, a genre that's not in Fox's wheelhouse/brand anyway. On Thursdays, NBC's getting mostly out of the game (the 8:00 hour could still have sitcoms, especially if Bill Cosby's gets pushed from midseason/Summer to Fall 2015) and CBS will barely be able to program 3 hours across the whole week. If Thursday Night Football ends up being a one-year deal for CBS, it's the perfect opportunity to try expanding the male-leaning comedy brand there.

Spot said...

At 61 episodes by the end of 2014-2015, it doesn't look good for Mindy. Anyone think that NBC may take a filer on the show and pick it up a la Scrubs/ABC? The comparison kind of holds up: comedy starved network wants to make (more) money in syndication market...

Spot said...

Fox has problems, but I feel that their lack of programming in the 10pm hour coupled with their reliance on 3-hour singing competitions inherently amplifies both their successes and their failures.

And not having the 10pm hour is a mixed bag - they need fewer shows in a low-rated hour and can focus on promoting fewer new shows, but they don't get the benefit from lead-ins and they don't really have the schedule space to give shows the benefit of the doubt.

Spot said...

Ooh, that has me thinking!

Spot, how does this FOX fall so far compare in Plus to their fall numbers in the pre-XF years in the oughts?

Spot said...

A tightly defined 1.5ish W18-34 is still plenty appealing enough to certain advertisers - cosmetic companies, fashion retailers, possibly others - that ad spots will go for decent money. Ditto, possibly more so, for M18-34 (part of why the networks pay huge amounts for sports rights).

Not sure how many other shows get the W18-34 numbers of New Girl across all networks. Few enough to keep those ad spot costs high apparently.

Spot said...

And just one day later, Mindy gets additional 6 episodes. Now we ARE able to read tea leaves - and Mindy leaps from "just maybe" to "likely renewal" in 24 hours. I mean, renewed unless it collapses badly in the spring. And it doesn't really matter if this extension was initiated by a studio, or by Fox network - the very same side will be the driving force of likely renewal.

Corollary, Fox will have 2 comedy blocks on a weekday. It could be 2 Tuesday blocks, but it doesn't have to be so.

Spot said...

This is pretty horrible to think actually. The fact that only Gotham and The Simpsons can do over 2.0 and that any show that has a 1.5 is considered "solid" is really awful. I can understand why Idol may be able to survive for many more seasons.

Spot said...

Fox's Fall average in Plus by night pre-X Factor (2003-2011) vs. Fox's Fall average so far:

Monday: 87 | 112
Tuesday: 111 | 81*
Wednesday: 85 | 65
Thursday: 67 | 63
Friday: 41 | 33**
Sunday: 104 | 113

*: Since Utopia was yanked earlier than its year-long planned run, I'm including the MasterChef Junior/New Girl/Mindy Project numbers. If I swap those in, it's 66 | 81.
**: This is just using Utopia's Friday numbers since it's just been reruns (which have been on par with Utopia's originals so it's probably close enough)

Tuesdays in the pre-X days are the strongest thanks to House's improving performances after three seasons as an Idol lead-out in the season prior, then Glee's one year as a megahit. Meanwhile, Monday's strength now would be slightly more outrageous if you strip out the two years including House (75 | 112).

Because Mondays & Tuesdays essentially flip-flopped in terms of strength while most other nights are approximately even, Wednesdays are the clear disappointment historically. And that comparison could have been worse if Fox had developed a Idol lead-out for Wednesdays that stuck around for multiple improving seasons on the night.

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