Monday, December 1, 2014

Very Late Fall 2014 Best Case/Worst Case: The Mentalist, Mike and Molly and more!

Welcome to the final Best Case/Worst Case of 2014, visiting a five-pack of premieres straggling across the last weeks of the year. Though many of these are short-order schedule fillers, I'm excluding some of the very short-order schedule fillers. (Sorry, The Sing-Off and The Great Christmas Light Fight!)

The Mentalist
Premieres November 30; Moves to Wednesday 8/7c January 7
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.45 -16% marginal 1.74 -10% Sunday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Good Wife
Avg Orig Avg
1.45 1.45 1.34 1.47

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%.

The Taste
Premieres December 4
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.06 -34% flop 1.22 -7% Thursday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsGrey's Anatomy Scandal
Avg Orig Avg
2.81 2.87 2.53 2.61 3.14 2.81

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
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.17 -24% solid 2.16 +0% Monday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Big Bang Theory (R) The Millers
Avg Orig Avg
2.51 2.30 2.58 2.20 1.68 1.55

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%.

Undercover Boss
Premieres December 14; Moves to Friday 9/8c January 2
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.51 -6% marginal 1.78 -15% Friday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsMadam Secretary
Avg Orig Avg
1.93 1.93 1.44 1.57

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
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
0.35 -36% flop 0.47 -25% Monday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsAmerica's Next Top Model
Avg Orig Avg
0.35 0.37 0.36 0.48

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.


Spot said...

Nice job squeezing this in before the Mentalist overnights! It's crazy. I've never seen so many veterans return in December! Usually they either step in by November, or wait for January.

Spot said...

The one reason I'm intrigued by The Mentalist's potential performance is based on last season: once the show did away with Red John the show got stronger for a decent stretch and was able to find the high-1's, even in the face of a 10:50 start time. Can the procedural do it again now that the Will They?/Won't They? couple finally got together?

The Taste is somewhat helped by avoiding American Idol, but the scheduling still isn't great thanks to Christmas Day; maybe ABC will have a late-afternoon NBA game leading into it to help out. Plus it'll have to face Peter Pan Live!; I don't see that NBC event being as stronger as The Sound of Music but it'll doubtless do better than their current Thursday schedule.

CBS is still really pushing Mike & Molly (see tonight's "Marvelous Mike & Molly Marathon!"), most likely because its comedy development has been so horrible the past few years. That combined with keeping Chuck Lorre happy gives it a much bigger advantage as the sitcom swing player than Rules of Engagement ever had. And though it's hammocked between a weak anchor and a newbie wildcard, at least the wildcard Scorpion is showing more promise than Mom and should accelerate in January/February.

I think CBS has just recognized that Undercover Boss is not a Shark Tank-like reality show that can go wire-to-wire. It's almost more like a Wipeout in that viewers apparently tire on the concept, but it's just a stronger show that the pratfall extravaganza on ABC. While it'll help the show's average by airing in the pretty much the sweetest part of the season (outside of Premiere Week), it's still a folly on CBS' part getting off the sked in favor of Race's next cycle. Anyone think that the Eye could audible out of that plan? Between all the sitcom maneuvers this season (TBBT repeat, swapping Mom/The Millers, canceling The Millers) and how The Mentalist & UB are being treated, I think it's possible.

Why The CW hasn't announced The Final Season of Hart of Dixie I'll never know. Even if the lead wasn't pregnant I doubt it would have gotten more than the 10 episodes it got for this season.

Spot said...

I don't have a ton of disagreement here. I do see the possibility thay Mike & Molly could GROW from its lead in. It didn't last season, because 2 Brokes Girls was being somewhat propped up by its big HIMYM lead in. That's gone this year. Then it later had an 8:30 downgrade with FWBL against DST, an uptrending Dancing with the Stars, and the big return (initially) or 24. It's the perfect type of show for syndication. That being said, 2 Broke Girls hit a freakin' ONE. POINT. SIX. last week. That isn't much of a lead in

Spot said...

Undercover Boss has a bird in the hand advantage. We know it does decently on Sunday and very well on Friday. It's used to going up against unscripted (Dateline, Masterchef Jr./Kitchen Nightmares, Whose Line Is It Anyways) on Friday while TAR had no reality competition at all! It went against a serialized drama, animated comedies, and football. And when it DID face aginst a reality show, it was freakin' American Dream Builders (.9 is a timeslot high!)

Spot said...

I hadn't thought about the Christmas day game. Makes me think airing the Taste wouldn't be awful. FOX actually got a decent showing with the X-Factor when it aired on Thanksgiving with the help of a football game. Big lead in beats viewer depression!

Spot said...

This, of course, assumes that ABC actually airs The Taste instead of reairing one of its myriad of Christmas specials (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Disney's Prep & Landing, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the good cartoon one, not the awful live-action cartoon that was the Jim Carrey movie), etc.) or a special ep of The Great Christmas Light Fight.

At some point, ABC needs to better utilize the few out-of-primetime sporting events it has like the NBA Opening Day game or the quadrennial World Cup Finals and funnel them into primetime. Can you tell I'm still baffled why ABC used the World Cup to lead into an America's Funniest Home Videos rerun?

Spot said...

One important note about airing on Sundays: the highest-viewed slot on TV is partially wrapped up in Sports and Events. When the Super Bowl blackout bumped the game into the 10:00 hour instead of post-Game blather and Elementary in 2012-2013, it really inflated the hour and resulted in the 12% y2y drop that we saw in the BC/WC stats this year. In future years of BC/WC I'd love a comparison of bc & TPUT if you strip out the inflationary effects of Sports and Events.

Also, Once Upon a Time and Family Guy are pretty much the only shows that get above a 2.0, and The Simpsons can get oh-so-close, more than 90% of the time once the post-Events part of the calendar starts in March. So while the night may be highly-viewed overall, it's because a lot of cable networks are trying here (The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones being the best examples) and really fragmenting the audience moreso than on other nights. Boss doesn't have to worry about this so much, but it's a consideration.

Spot said...

2018 in Russia will be an early-afternoon kickoff at latest - the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow took place at 8:45pm CET (2:45pm ET), the standard kickoff for that competition, and even that was 10:45pm local time. (Home games for Russian teams in the Champions League now take place at 6pm CET - which is still 9pm local time for part of the season now Russia has abolished DST!)

That would put it in line with 2014 (3pm ET kickoff, largely to maximise the lucrative European TV audience). As for 2022, if it stays in Qatar it'll almost certainly be a similar kickoff, but with a little luck, that's a big "if."

Spot said...

No disagreement at all, will post more detailed predictions later (though all of them will be pretty close to those numbers).

Spot said...

Mentalist - 1.35, the fans of this show are rabid, they are a dozen but they'll watch it.

The Taste - 0.92 - Not an experiement people like, thursdays will be awful without TGIT.

Mike and Molly - 1.75 - 2BG isn't an anchor but it'll keep surviving despite McCarthy's movie career because CBS will cancel 3 fall comedies this year.

Undercover Boss - 1.43 - deadly even.

Hart of Dixie - 0.24, six 0.2 ratings and four 0.3

Spot said...

Agreed. That might leave CBS with a bit of a dilemma if they think Melissa McCarthy is going to leave the show to do movies after next season.

Spot said...

I agree that Mike and Molly could grow from its lead-in. As for 2BG's ratings last week, they were in a very off week that I really don't think is indicative of what it will do for the rest of the season. The pairing with a competent comedy (as opposed to the millers) should also help 2BG a bit, which in itself would be a help to MM.

Spot said...

Regarding the taste, don't forget that on top of the highest rated Idol episodes, it also had to face the olympics, which most broadcast shows avoided like the plague. I really doubt that it cannot benefit from airing with much favorable competition.

As for Hart of Dixie, I actually think they would have given it a full final season on Fridays if it weren't for Rachel's pregnancy. I mean, they are airing enough filler there to have room to do it, now even bringing back summer programming. I am sure it would have pulled comparable numbers and the CW would get the show to 88 that way. The fact that they are so adamant in denying it is a final season when they usually pride themselves with announcing them is very intriguing. I think there is a better shot at renewal than most people are thinking, though I do believe the ratings will be important enough for that decision to be 50/50 right now.

Spot said...

I agree. But I think it's the network's response to the problem of depreciating value of reruns. Probably also the same reason why we are seeing more originals in the summer.

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