|Premieres November 30; Moves to Wednesday 8/7c January 7|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Good Wife|
Best Case: It doesn't get much worse than The Mentalist's Sunday 10/9c situation last year. Moving to an hour earlier and then to Wednesday at 8/7c are both vastly preferable. We will see an audience here that was simply incapable of being tapped at weird start times with a Good Wife lead-in. Announced final seasons have been very rare for CBS procedurals, but this one will go well enough to inspire CBS to try it again with other shows. Up double digits to a 1.65.
Worst Case: The competition isn't that easy. It premieres against the finale of The Walking Dead, then on Wednesday will have to deal with both an NBC procedural (The Mysteries of Laura) and the strongest weeks of American Idol. It's being treated like filler, so it will be very tough to scrape together low 1's. 1.03.
Likeliest: Will there be a large influx of viewers to see how it all ends? I don't really see it, but the better scheduling will help this show out. It should be close to Good Wife numbers on Sunday, maybe even better if Undercover Boss does well on their three Sundays together, and it shouldn't do that much worse for the last run on pre-DST Wednesday. Add in a modest finale bump and it averages a 1.36, down just 6%.
|Premieres December 4|
|Timeslot Occupants||Grey's Anatomy||Scandal|
Best Case: The Taste actually put up some pretty reasonable ratings before American Idol and the Olympics rolled around last season, hitting 1.3 each of the first two weeks. This premiere date gives it a much larger percentage of the season away from Idol, and ABC is getting healthier in general. Maybe this could actually be a MasterChef Junior-style breakout. Up to a 1.30, basically tying the Plus from season one.
Worst Case: -34% in season two was one ugly trend, suggesting this is a show that viewers are just rejecting. Expect a season two redux; season three will open very close to series low levels, and it will get much worse when Idol rolls around for the last few weeks. 0.74, down by 30%.
Likeliest: Last season consisted of eight two-hour episodes, and there are eight Thursdays between now and the TGIT return on January 29. However, one of those is Christmas Day, so I'm not sure if it will have to air on that night or have one less episode or what. But whatever happens in very late December, the reduced competition might be a net positive overall. If the scheduling were identical, I'd call for some continued depreciation, but I think this positioning gets it close to a league average drop. -11% to a 0.94.
|Mike and Molly|
|Premieres December 8|
|Timeslot Occupants||The Big Bang Theory (R)||The Millers|
Best Case: Mike and Molly has been a quiet syndication success story this fall. And unlike most fifth-season shows, it gets to premiere after viewers have spent a few months finding it in syndication, which could make the effect more noticeable out of the gate. Last year it had good retention of a 2 Broke Girls lead-in that was inflated by How I Met Your Mother, so it could fare much better by comparison this time. Very close to even at 2.15.
Worst Case: It dropped 24% last season despite a large Melissa McCarthy-fueled marketing push and a better 2BG lead-in than it should get this year. This season, the crumbling of the CBS comedy department continues and the promotion lessens. It's a Truly stronger show than The Millers, but it will actually have a lower raw average since it gets a worse situation on average. 1.60, down 26%.
Likeliest: It will do a workmanlike low-90s retention of what its 2 Broke Girls lead-in provides, perhaps improving the trend through the season if syndication help kicks in. I predicted a 1.89 average for 2 Broke Girls and don't see much reason yet to expect that to be way off, though it will be a touch lower once factoring out the eps already aired. So M&M gets a 1.76, down 19%.
|Premieres December 14; Moves to Friday 9/8c January 2|
|Timeslot Occupants||Madam Secretary|
Best Case: If there's one lesson from The Amazing Race's struggles on Friday, it's that the Friday performance for Undercover Boss was massively taken for granted over the years. And this season is set up very well; it gets three Sunday 8:00 episodes (two of which are on CBS overrun nights, usually a good thing for the second show in the lineup), then a Friday run in high-viewed January and February. It's up noticeably to a 1.70.
Worst Case: Actually, the lesson of The Amazing Race (and the procedurals' modest returns) is that viewers are bailing on a CBS Friday that simply overachieved last season. Boss took major drops in its closing episodes last season, and maybe CBS was sensing some fatigue in the concept if they held it off the fall sked. The Sunday eps don't do significantly better than Madam Secretary / last season's Friday average, and the Friday eps underachieve just like the rest of CBS Friday. Despite the Sunday boost, the Boss is down over 20% to 1.20, mostly doing no better than the Race on Friday.
Likeliest: As I said back in the fall, The Amazing Race was one of the toughest shows to predict because it didn't feel like CBS would willfully replace Undercover Boss with something weaker, yet the numbers pointed in that direction. The numbers certainly won out there, but now we've arrived at the other side of the coin; can the Boss step in and blow away The Amazing Race's numbers as a midseason fill-in? It wouldn't be unprecedented; just look at some of The Bachelor's seasons between Dancing with The Stars runs. So I expect the Boss to be an improvement, but still down about league average from last year's longer Friday run. The solid-rated Sunday eps will bump the season average to a 1.45, down just 4%.
|Hart of Dixie|
|Previews December 15; Moves to Friday 9/8c January 9|
|Timeslot Occupants||America's Next Top Model|
Best Case: The 2013-14 Friday episodes of Hart of Dixie came very late in the season. Like most of the other shows above, Hart should benefit from airing most of its order in a higher-viewed portion of the year. If it could manage a 0.4 for the finale, it can eke out some 0.4's on Friday in January. Mix in some 0.3's and it is even year-to-year at 0.35.
Worst Case: Hart of Dixie would've dropped completely off the reservation on Friday if not for its big lead-in from Whose Line Is It Anyway? It will get much less support in this run, starting with modest performer Masters of Illusion and ending with... Reign? Jane the Virgin? It maybe gets a 0.3 for the Monday preview, followed by a steady diet of 0.2's on Monday. Maybe even an episode or two drops into that dreaded 0.1 Cult territory. 0.19.
Likeliest: This is a bit better-scheduled than last year's final season of Nikita, but not much. Like Hart's spring Friday episodes, I think this run is gonna be a mix of 0.2's and 0.3's. That spring run was mostly 0.3's, but the 0.2 will become considerably more frequent with lesser lead-ins and the usual struggles for serialized shows in later seasons. 0.23. Though the network has hesitated to make a final season announcement for whatever reason, it's probably dunzo.