Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Question, Wednesday 1/7/15: Will Fox Begin Rebuilding its Empire?

American Idol premiere night was once the beginning of a four-month run of overwhelming ratings domination for the Fox network. Now, the network just crosses its fingers for slowed year-to-year bleeding and an Idol big enough to keep it somewhat competitive. But there's added pressure on the former Death Star's premiere this year because it will lead into a new drama, the hip hop musical Empire. Musical dramas have run the gamut from huge (Glee) to consistently modest (Nashville) to megabomb (Viva Laughlin), and Fox could really use something toward the positive end of that spectrum. Will Fox begin rebuilding its Empire? That's The Question for Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

American Idol Last Season
4.7 (premiere, 1/15/14, -22% year-to-year)
2.67 (Wednesday/performance average, -32% year-to-year)
2.6 (finale, 5/21/14, -28% year-to-year)

Unlike the last couple shows we've done for The Question, Empire will have an actual sizable lead-in. But as always with Idol premieres these days, just how sizable is a mystery. Empire may need 75%+ retention to get over this line, or it may only need in the 50s. One problem for the show is that CBS offers a real alternative for much of the Idol crowd at 9/8c in the People's Choice Awards. But with a couple fairly big-name leads and a unique concept, Empire could attract at least a bit of its own audience.

Empire Over/Under: 2.15.

No entries accepted after 6:00am ET the morning after the date in the headline. If editing your pick, please leave a separate comment.


Spot said...

Is Empire actually a musical? I thought it just had a lot of rap BGM due to the setting.

Either way, I think Idol hits that finale number, because that's what it's tended to do recently, and I further think that Fox can't get enough heat on its own to get Empire over that line even w/ whatever help a 2.6 might give it. Under.

Spot said...

I'm going Under because...why not? 1.9.

Spot said...

On an unrelated note, I miss Carter.

Spot said...

It's not musical, Empire is "a music themed drama." Meaning, unlike in Glee, people aren't spontaneously singing and dancing around here. If there are songs in Empire, then probably they do as in Nashville: With many characters in that ABC drama being musicians, it's easy for episode writer to write scenes with a gig, or a rehearsal, with someone writing or recording a song, and then incorporate songs in those scenes.

Spot said...

Are you sure by 607 they actually mean 7th aired? It might mean 7th shot of this season. They don't always air them in order of shooting, and by description I think this one isn't the one that aired on 10/30.
I'm not sure. Anyway, it's not of big importance, because we'll find out soon.

Spot said...


Spot said...

As of today, and including preliminary numbers for Monday and Tuesday:
- CBS: 117 in Plus (1.73 in raw numbers)
- NBC: 116 in Plus (1.71 in raw numbers)
- ABC: 114 in Plus (1.69 in raw numbers)
- FOX: 85 in Plus (1.25 in raw numbers)
- CW: 39 in Plus (0.57 in raw numbers)

Keep in mind that it's probably not the best time for ABC to go through comparisons right now, since they've removed the star of their lineup (TGIT) very early in the season relatively speaking and replaced it with a mega flop (The Taste+Murder repeats). They will reap the benefits of this in time, but right now the numbers don't illustrate it.

This being said, if you are into year to year comparisons as the best way to evaluate the direction in which things are going, the picture is quite clear there (again, keep in mind ABC is hurt more than usual in these numbers due to comparisons of the taste/murder(R) vs ga/scandal from last year):
- CW: +5%

- ABC: -3%

- CBS: - 10% (big caveat here since TNF hides out a lot of the late fall ugly comparisons)

- NBC: -15%

- FOX: -18%

Spot said...

CBS is having a bad year in terms of year to year comparisons which might suggest they are in trouble for the future as I have suggested before (they also seem to agree since this is by far the season in which they are being the most aggressive with their freshman dramas in a very long time) but in terms of absolute numbers they are still in very good shape - see my answer below to Chris with the season-to-date averages and year to year comparisons.

CBS has a very peculiar quality that differentiates it from the other networks which is that they may not often come out on top of a night but they seldom have truly awful nights. Sundays are probably the closest thing to a truly awful night they have but even then, they are able to most times beat ABC and AD will have to explode for NBC to make up for all the repeats filled Sundays that it will have to endure up until then.

CBS is second on Mondays (2.06 VS. 2.67 NBC), second on Tuesdays (1.93 vs. 2.03 NBC), second on Wednesdays (1.94 vs. 2.00 ABC), second on Thursdays (1.72 vs. 2.07 ABC), tied for second on Fridays (1.10 vs 1.35 ABC) and yes, last on Sundays (1.53, after 1.59 ABC and 1.97 for FOX). That's a lot of seconds! Not only are most of these nights still reversible (Tuesdays if they get enough of a lead on NBC during the voice hiatus, Wednesdays if Cyber hits, Sundays if Secrets and Lies is not a success for ABC) but even if they aren't, as a whole they are still very much successful. ABC and NBC might dominate Mondays and Thursdays respectively ,while also winning Wednesdays and Tuesdays respectively, but they do terribly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively. CBS really doesn't do terrible on any night.

Spot said...

CW: They have certainly improved quite a bit this year with a stronger Monday lineup and of the Flash.

ABC: The Frozen arc on OUAT, and TGIT really strengthened the network this fall. Only concern going forward is OUAT being much weaker this Spring (1.7 winter finale is not a good sign for the next arc), and new dramas Secrets and Lies and American Crime flopping.

CBS: As you said TNF really helped hide the bleeding. They are starting January off strong, but y2y I'm sure they will still be down double digits

NBC: The 15% decline is rough. The majority of the decline can be attributed to the Voice declining 20-23%, but for the network that's a bad sign long term. At least the scripted dramas were relatively stable this fall.

Fox: No X-Factor really hurt the network this fall, but the situation should improve this Spring with the return of Idol. I still expect a double digit decline by the end of the season though.

Spot said...

A few comments here and there to your points:
CW: The Flash and the Monday lineup are of course the biggest reasons for growth but there is also been very subtle areas of growth for the CW here and there. Fridays have quietly finished up 23% year to year despite Whose Line airing only 5 original episodes there. They've managed to make a much better use of repeats/ specials than in the past year and were almost always up in repeats-filled nights. These are nights with very small numbers so the percentage gains are misleading but I believe they are important as they show the baseline audience for the CW is slowly increasing which is a big step for a network to get healthier long term (higher baseline -> higher sampling for new shows). In any case, this is a network that is up by double digits in PLUS in every night of the week except for Thursday and that is up in raw numbers in every night but Thursday and Wednesday. That is not an isolated incident.

ABC: The Wednesday lineup was as much of a factor IMO. That day is up 5% year to year for them, that's a lot! And it also helps that DWTS has slowed down the bleeding and that Fridays are still very healthy. One thing to keep in mind is that they were hurt in y2y comparisons during the fall due to Shield's very inflated initial numbers which should be out of the way going forward. Tuesdays are so far down 20% year to year but that should start reversing now. In terms of problematic areas, I would still add Tuesdays at 8 and Tuesdays at 10, those are big concerns.

CBS: CBS may be able to reverse the double digits decline in time. They had some ugliness towards the end of last season (Intelligence and then regularly scheduled repeats Mondays at 10, regularly scheduled repeats Mondays 9h30, The Crazy Ones and Bad Teacher on Thursday) that should give them some very easy year to year gains. It should be close, but it's possible.

NBC: Thursdays are actually their worse day in terms of year to year comparisons. They are down some horrible 26% on that night, which is even worse than it looks considering last year the lineup was Parks-Welcome to the Family-Sean-Michael J.Fox and we thought they couldn't possibly do any worse. Tuesdays also have a lot of non voice bleeding due to comedies vs. TBL comparison.

FOX: I will be stunned if FOX manages to revert the double digit decline. Still, it isn't impossible, especially because last winter/spring was when FOX really collapsed so the y2y comparisons should get much easier. Still, the only hours in which I believe they have a worthy shot of showing actual improvement are: Gotham improving on AH|Bones, Masterchef Jr|Hell's Kitchen improving on Dads&B99| Glee and maybe Fridays I guess since it was so horrible last spring. The good thing is that I also don't see horrible hours for y2y comparisons so maybe that's enough. We shall see.

Spot said...

I almost forgot about Super Fun Night/Mixology on ABC last year! Yes, their Wednesday is much stronger now.

I just remembered last year NBC had the winter Olympics filling up 2 weeks of their schedule that will now be going to low rated filler. That will make it much more difficult for them to offset their y2y declines. It helps that Celebrity Apprentice is doing well, and I'm hoping the improvements on Thursday, and possibly Sunday this Spring can at least partially offset the decline.

At this point I'm hoping Fox can at least shrink it's current 18% y2y decline to a more reasonable 10-12% decline by the end of the season. They really could use a "win" this Spring.

Spot said...

While I never like to use HH to judge success, looks like that win you were looking for might have just arrived in the form of Empire. We shall see the demos, but it looks good so far.

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