Monday, January 5, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case, January 2015: Galavant, Agent Carter, Empire and More!

Welcome to the Best Case/Worst Case for broadcast television's January premieres! I couldn't come up with a good way of splitting up these 11 shows into multiple posts, so I'm knocking out the whole month now.

Galavant (NEW!)
Premieres January 4

Timeslot OccupantsOnce Upon a Time
Avg Orig Avg
2.65 2.56 2.52 2.59

Best Case: Galavant is different, and different should never be counted out. But it also seems pretty compatible with the show it's replacing in the Sunday 8/7c hour, so maybe it can actually latch onto some of the Once Upon a Time audience. It's not getting Frozen-inflated Once ratings, but it might manage to latch onto about what the Once audience would've been this fall without Frozen. 1.75.

Worst Case: The scheduling says it all. ABC initially planned on eight weeks of this, with a repeat airing at 8:30, but they've compacted it to four and are keeping it out of February sweeps entirely. Finding an audience against all the January events will be hopeless. 0.70.

Likeliest: I'm really looking forward to this show, but I'm a weirdo. I could see the premiere being somewhat on the map, simply because the first January of the year is a famously high-viewing/low-competition night. But it's probably gonna take a large week two drop against the Golden Globes, and it may lose some more in week three against the AFC Championship Game. These four weeks will probably be it. 1.10.

Celebrity Apprentice
Sunday Preview January 4; Monday Premiere January 5
y2y Label True Sitch 2012-13 Slot
1.60 (in 2012-13) -21% marginal n/a n/a Sunday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Mon Fall
Avg Orig Avg
3.38 3.38 3.35 3.21

Best Case: Reality shows are really fickle things, and this series' two-year absence may have made the heart grow fonder. It could well make a return to the low-100s Plus seen in the first few years of the celebrity edition. 1.75.

Worst Case: There's a reason why NBC has taken so long to find a place for this show again. It was fading fast before, and it's been utterly forgotten across a two-year hiatus. This will be the same kind of meltdown seen when original recipe Apprentice was resurrected in fall 2010. 0.85.

Likeliest: Though the celebrity edition was built more on a trainwreck foundation, it actually proved more robust than the original recipe Apprentice (which plummeted from a 241 Plus to a 76 in just three calendar years). Anything's possible, from a meltdown like The Apprentice's resurrection in 2010 to a reinvigoration like The Biggest Loser's return in 2013. But I'm playing it safe and going just a bit lower in Plus than the most recent edition. That would still be a reasonable piece of filler, but not necessarily a guaranteed renewal. 1.22.

The Bachelor
Premieres January 5
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.56 -7% hit 2.53 +1% Monday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsDancing with the Stars Fall
Avg Orig Avg
1.98 2.01 2.05 2.13

Best Case: It was down less than league average despite facing more competition from the Olympics and The Voice last spring. With no Olympics, no How I Met Your Mother, little interest in The Apprentice, and The Voice teetering, the landscape is getting even more favorable for this show. It holds even at 2.56, making this the highest-rated season in Plus since the show's very earliest years.

Worst Case: This show has really been overachieving over the last couple seasons, while The Bachelorette has had struggles in the last couple summer seasons. It's time for both of those trends to even out. That means The Bachelor drops by just over 25% to a 1.90.

Likeliest: As usual, I really have no clue what's going on with this show or how appealing the choice for Bachelor is. My only angle is looking at the ratings. While the landscape seems easier, it just really feels like a show due for some "evening out." That angle didn't work last year, but here we go again. Down 15% to 2.18.

Agent Carter (NEW!)
Premieres January 6

Timeslot OccupantsAgents of SHIELD
Avg Orig Avg
1.78 1.83 1.69 1.79

Best Case: This series has a closer tie to the Marvel movie universe than Agents of SHIELD (well, at least the early episodes). Hayley Atwell was actually a lead character in a Marvel movie, and she's a very capable lead for a TV series. It isn't starting at last year's SHIELD levels, but it still pops a big number and settles considerably higher than SHIELD at a 2.35. While the arrangement with Atwell may only allow it to return in a similar capacity next season, ABC pushes very hard for a longer run (perhaps allowing it to air alongside SHIELD for a bit).

Worst Case: Like Galavant, it's just keeping a timeslot warm. Don't overthink it. The huge Marvel crowd that sampled Agents of SHIELD felt burnt by that show's shaky early episodes and won't be fooled again here. It's another Once Upon a Time in Wonderland situation, settling at only about half of the usual SHIELD rating. 0.95 and dunzo.

Likeliest: I'm also looking forward to this one a lot, but unlike with Galavant, I may not be alone in that anticipation this time. I give this show a very decent shot to start considerably ahead of the usual Agents of SHIELD delivery, and it settles very close to typical SHIELD numbers. 1.75 and renewed for an almost identical arrangement in 2015-16.

MasterChef Junior
Premieres January 6
y2y Label True Sitch Fall 2013 Slot
1.66 +18% marginal 1.69 -2% Tuesday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsUtopia Tue MasterChef Junior
Avg Orig Avg
1.58 1.45 0.88 1.05 1.66 1.70

Best Case: The fall season faced The Voice, and the winter season faces (mostly) Parks and Recreation. Sign me up. Another dose of double-digit growth to 1.85.

Worst Case: It's just too much Gordon Ramsay. A second Hell's Kitchen season in such close proximity did not go well at all this fall, and Fox will see at least that same kind of 20% slippage this time. 1.25.

Likeliest: I've underestimated the last couple MasterChef Junior seasons by about 40%. If that happens again here, it will probably be one of the stories of the season. There will be some Ramsay fatigue setting in here, but much of that will be offset by the more favorable competition. So it'll get the same 1.5-1.6 it got in the fall. 1.54.

American Idol
Premieres January 7 / January 8
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.67 | 2.57 -32% | -30% hit 2.73 | 2.74 -2% Wednesday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsHell's Kitchen
Avg Orig Avg
1.69 1.33 1.34 1.46

Best Case: Fox is doing all the right things to try to keep American Idol viable. They cancelled The X Factor to limit the overexposure of this genre, and they're reducing the amount of time Idol itself is on the air. They will be rewarded for this, as Idol settles in at about last year's historical-adjusted level for the long haul. It's down 9% | 7% to a 2.43 | 2.38.

Worst Case: As bad as the -32% | -30% above looked, they got a lot worse over the course of the season; the Thursday editions were frequently down over 40% in the late spring! With even the performance editions dipping below 2.0 late last season, it's going to be tough to piece much audience back together. And the largely status quo judging panel will fail to generate any real buzz. It takes a catastrophic X Factor-esque upper-30s drop, shedding a full point on each night. 1.67 | 1.57.

Likeliest: Probably dangerous to go this way, but I could actually see the Idol bleeding slowing a bit this year. The absence of X may make it feel a bit more like an "event" again, and it's possible last season's drops got a touch exaggerated because of the weeks when it had to air against the Olympics. I won't go so far as to say it will be even in Plus, at least not yet, but 20-25% drops would sadly be a noticeable improvement over the last few years. 2.04 | 2.04. (The Thursday edition will stack up better average-wise since it's supposed to end in late March.)

Empire (NEW!)
Premieres January 7

Timeslot OccupantsRed Band Society
Avg Orig Avg
1.61 0.94 0.97 1.15

Best Case: The hottest broadcast dramas of the moment are big hits with the African-American demo, and this show will make another strong connection with that audience. The last time Fox threw a new musical drama after American Idol, it worked pretty well, and this one is also a good fit. It holds its Idol lead-in early on and maybe even starts building down the stretch, averaging a 2.15.

Worst Case: The Idol audience has become more teen-driven in its old age, hence the success of the pairing with Glee. This is a more adult show that proves a far worse match. Like Rake, it can only start at around 50% retention, and it soon gets worse. 0.86.

Likeliest: This feels like another Nashville situation; though it has a lot of hype going in, the music will create a somewhat limited audience reach, but it will hang around decently. Its lead-in alone should make it a considerable improvement on Red Band Society, and I also see it doing a good bit better than this winter's other post-Idol drama. 1.54, which likely earns it a renewal on Fox.

Premieres January 9
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.21 -45% flop 1.49 -19% Thu 9:00, Tue 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsGotham (R)
Avg Orig Avg
0.80 n/a 0.47 0.90

Best Case: It faced either Grey's Anatomy or The Voice for almost all of last season and will certainly not find that kind of W18-34-leaning competition on Friday. It can bring the 0.9ish average that it had for the Tuesday run to this night and get a nice finale spike. 0.92.

Worst Case: The finale got a zero point six. Zero. Point. Six. Last season saw one of the most epic meltdowns in recent memory, and now it's getting moved to a night when none of its audience is home. This is going to be at Gotham repeat levels most of the time. Fingers crossed for an occasional head-to-head tie with Hart of Dixie! 0.47.

Likeliest: It's fun to mock Glee's 0.6 finale last May, but it really does seem like an unlucky blip to go that far behind its previous low. But even if the normal 0.9 to 1.0ish rating was its "real" audience, and even if it could hold at around that for a final season, the move to Friday is going to take another big chunk out. Expect a few more of those 0.6's. This 0.68 prediction amazingly would be even less of a drop than it took on a weeknight last year. Just can't bring myself to go much lower.

Parks and Recreation
Premieres January 13
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.16 -28% flop 1.51 -23% Thu 8:00, Thu 8:30

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Tue Fall
Avg Orig Avg
1.43 1.46 2.50 2.45

Best Case: Since last we saw Parks, Chris Pratt has become a major movie star. That did wonders for Steve Carell and The Office. While it probably won't be as much of a factor with a show this old, it may bring some people into the tent. This show had to deal with The Big Bang Theory and American Idol last season, so NCIS and MasterChef Junior shouldn't be much of a problem. Throw in a big finale spike with a The Voice lead-in and it could actually be a nice growth season for Parks. 1.40.

Worst Case: The end of The Office and 30 Rock tore apart NBC's comedy brand last season, and that hurt Parks. Now it's getting double-pumped on a new night, so it's getting even farther away from that association. It's just not a good arrangement scheduling-wise. Spends most of the run below 1.0 and averages a 0.87, down 25%.

Likeliest: Parks gets to air entirely in the relatively favorable months of January and February, and the competition is not that daunting. A 1.0-1.1ish should be manageable most weeks, and it should get a decent bump for a Voice-fueled finale. It averages a 1.14, down 2%.

World's Funniest Fails (NEW!)
Premieres January 16

Timeslot OccupantsUtopia Fri Masterchef Junior (R)
Avg Orig Avg
0.77 0.64 0.65 1.00 0.67 0.90

Best Case: Underestimate these blooper shows at your own peril. It seems like America's Funniest Home Videos should've been obsolete years ago, but it's still quietly alive and kicking. And host Terry Crews is increasingly recognizable from gigs like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? This show will also tap into a casual viewership audience, posting very reasonable numbers by Friday standards (and also repeating very well). 1.03.

Worst Case: Headline writers will have fun with the title of this show. Scheduled on a Friday, there is a complete and utter lack of interest from anyone. 0.37 and quickly replaced by repeats of almost anything.

Likeliest: Maybe it's because I did a lot of 2001-02 and 2002-03 data entry over the holiday break, when blooper-themed stuff was a pretty common decent-rated filler solution. But I could see this doing no worse than Utopia and repeats of MasterChef. That's not much of a compliment, but it'd at least be enough to keep it around for the full order. 0.65.

Backstrom (NEW!)
Premieres January 22

Timeslot OccupantsGracepoint
Avg Orig Avg
0.83 0.83 0.84 1.01

Best Case: Once again, Fox is trying to capture the old American Idol/House dynamic. The supporting cast seems a little more recognizable than last year's effort, and a crime drama may have a little more inherent appeal to the younger Idol audience than last year's legal drama. It can't possibly be worse than Rake, right? 1.68.

Worst Case: It's basically Rake except the lead actor is less famous and the lead-in is even weaker. What could go wrong? Matches Gracepoint's 0.84 average before Fox pulls/moves it.

Likeliest: The Office was one of my all-time favorite shows, so I'd like to see Rainn Wilson have success. But in case you can't tell this yet, I'm getting huge Rake vibes from the promos. And I can't figure out what makes this show succeed where that one failed. Speaking generally, maybe a crime drama is a slightly better fit with Idol than a legal drama, but the end result is probably going to be the same. Idol helps it do better than Gracepoint, but not by that much. 1.02.


Spot said...

Judging by the top 25 markets, both of us missed big time on Galavant. And The Apprentice looks surprisingly very high too, I think we are in for TBL-rebound 2.0.

Spot said...

I'm only doing my prediction now so I'm ahead of both Chris and omabin knowing the top 25 ratings.

Galavant: my pick would be a 1.1 average, but after a 2.3 top 25 it looks like it'll be closer to the best-case scenario. I'm going with a 1.65, because weeks 2 and 3 drops could be brutal.
CA: I predicted a 1.3 but it looks like it might be The Biggest Loser 2.0, filling well for The Voice, I'm going with a 1.81 here.
Bachelor: this is a healthy franchise, which surprises me, 10% drop to 2.30
Carter: 1.77 average, there are only 7 weeks and it can get at least a good sampling in the low 2s.
Masterchf Junior: no idea here, fatigue vs low competition, it's been a good player for FOX vs it's on FOX, going to a safe pick at 1.50
Idol: can't predict a night beakdown but my bet is 1.90
Empire: I'm somewhat positive on that one, slightly higher pick at 1.61 (this is probably going to burn me because it's FOX)
Glee: FOX? On fridays? Based on the Raising Hope experiment and Glee being a tired show itself I'm picking it'll drop 50% to 0.60
Parks: 1.15 and NBC's #1 comedy
World's Funniest FOX shows: going to pick the same 0.65, have no idea about it, can't do worse than repeats, can it?
Rakestrom: 0.98, it's rake all over again, FOX is worse than ever and Idol is weaker.

Spot said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the NFL play-offs boosted overall HUT levels, even boosting the networks that didn't carry the games.

Spot said...

I second the emotion that I'm surprised that your range from Galavant isn't a lot wider. Music-themed shows don't hit often (Viva Laughlin, Cop Rock), but when they do it's in a big way (Glee). One benefit that Galavant and Agent Carter had over the past couple of months is that they were ABC's main Winter promo focus since they didn't have a megabomb that needed to be yanked and replaced a la Lucky 7. That should be a positive as they are on a network that doesn't feel like it's flailing. Those two, plus the steady-as-he-goes Bachelor will position ABC to be in better shape than last Winter.

Contrast that with NBC. They are about to do nothing but flail as they enter their Voice-less period and now have to program 4 more entertainment hours since football is over. Dusting off a 2-year-old Celebrity Apprentice and cramming a relocated Parks & Recreation into a 2 month period is not a vote of confidence. I don't think it'll be as bad as it was in 2012-2013 since they have stronger dramas (Blacklist, SVU, ChiFi, ChiPD) but they will really be looking forward to March more than the other networks.

Here's something cynical and borderline offensive: Fox is essentially hoping that Empire is the Black Glee instead of the Black Nashville even though the structure is essentially the same as ABC's drama. This would have been a great pairing with Idol had this happened three years ago. Now I don't see how a less potent Idol can boost this show against Criminal Minds, SVU, and ModFam/black-ish. But I at least think there's potential in Empire as opposed to Backstrom. The Rake comparison is probably going to be very apt. I would not be surprised if World's Funniest Fails and Backstrom swap slots. That actually wouldn't be the worst thing in the world since two networks are going for drama and CBS is having a TBBT rerun lead into Mom.

To hit the other Fox shows: one thing in MasterChef Junior's favor are the short seasons. Hell's ans regular MasterChef stretch on for months, while Junior can barely cross 2. So fatigue may not be a much of an issue. Fatigue, though, is already an issue for Glee. I'd argue that The X-Factor propped this show up more than we think; I very much doubt Glee could have hit the 2.0 its season premiere did without a) the 2.3 lead-in provided by X-Factor and b) early morbid curiosity about Finn's death.

Spot said...

ABC is also doing itself a favor by spreading the split-season treatments its doing. The TGIT dramas left the schedule in late November, allowing them to return late January. MAOS and OUAT (which I would argue are their next strongest dramas after TGIT) left the schedule almost a month after. This means that they will only go one month (January) without any of their top 5 dramas as opposed to go the entirely of January and February. And of course other successes like the Wednesday comedy block and Shark Tank remain on schedule the whole time. That should be enough for ABC to keep the lights on during Winter.

Spot said...

ABC is at least able to spread the split season treatments since there's no Olympics to muck things up. TGIT comes back January 29, so the network's PR department will get to trumpet how they won the first night of February Sweeps and boast about the percentage gains every show (especially Grey's Anatomy) brought on a y2y basis.

Spot said...

Galavant at a 2.0 average from half hour to half hour is solid, but it'll collapse next week against the Golden Globes. But I still wouldn't rule out a renewal for Galavant.

Celebrity Apprentice did amazingly well. If it can hold high 1s and 2s it could actually be renewed. It's success also puts the Biggest Loser's future in jeopardy IMO.

Spot said...

I agree. These are the worst news TBL has received the entire season. But I suppose it could still be used as filler for Sundays midseason January-March. If they keep doing AD there from Easter onwards, they could use TBL there as fill in earlier on.

Spot said...

I agree. Scandal's growth will be the biggest one though I think since both itself and GA will be compared with the taste from last year and Scandal rates higher.

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