Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ABC True Power Rankings, February 2015

The True Power Rankings are back! 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.

New for this round, a "momentum" metric called Heat. Check out this explanation.

These rankings include results through Sunday, February 1.

More February True Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW

ABC ComediesTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Winds of Wednesday Change
1Modern Family2.85-9%3.03-10%43%40%4
2The Middle2.10+1%2.08-7%34%35%4
3The Goldbergs2.10-5%2.18+23%39%39%4

Some results in the early fall had The Middle looking unusually soft; in fact it looked weaker than The Goldbergs and even about on par with Black-ish. At the time, it seemed like maybe moving the series to make way for a newbie could be a real consideration.

But The Middle caught a second wind with its season high 2.2 on November 19, just about a week after the last Power Rankings post, and it's maintained that improved level into early 2015. With the best Heat of any Wednesday comedy, the show now looks a lot less expendable than it did in mid-November, especially combined with...

...the weakening of Black-ish. Leaving the show after Modern Family into season two seemed like a solid idea when it was competitive in True with the shows in the 8:00 hour. But it's cooled considerably. It's worth noting that this seemed to start even in the last couple episodes of 2014. That was before Empire, the show that has been blamed for Black-ish's ratings issues, rolled around. So we're now four episodes into what seems like a decidedly weaker Black-ish than the one that existed for much of the fall.

Still, shuffling off anything from this lineup to another night will probably be a gut-wrenching call for ABC. Black-ish has probably replaced The Middle as the most logical choice, but it's still that rare ABC Studios shot at syndication, and there doesn't seem like a safe alternative unless Fresh Off the Boat holds up really well tonight. It may take a very promising newbie to crash this party.

ABC ComediesTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
Fine For Friday
5Last Man Standing1.49-4%1.30-3%24%39%5

It's been a pretty interesting journey for Cristela over the last couple months. It seemed like a bubble show as of the last Power Rankings, an improvement on The Neighbors but not a massive one. Immediately after that, it dropped for three straight weeks, as low as a 0.8 on December 12 that made things look dire. And yet, it came back tying a series high in its January debut and has suddenly become a big step up from The Neighbors again. Not really sure how much value there is in being better than The Neighbors, which was a clear failure, but it's still got at least something of a case as a Last Man companion.

I'm hesitant to say a lot about Last Man Standing, because the behind-the-scenes stuff may take over here. My take on the show preseason was that it would have a good fall but that the great late-season hold from 2013-14 would be very tough to repeat. Well, it's had the good fall, maybe even a bit better than expected; if it can hold up that well again after DST, it'll be tough for ABC to let go.

ABC ComediesTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Seemingly Dunzo
8Manhattan Love Story1.10-8%0.8037%33%2

I was not completely ready to give up on Galavant even after the second big drop from 1.3 to 0.9 against the AFC Championship in week three. But I would've really liked to see a little better than the 1.1 it mustered in week four, which graded out even weaker in True than the 0.9 from week three. There wasn't a lot of competition and it had a season high lead-in from America's Funniest Home Videos. It didn't bomb as hard as I expected (at least in the first couple weeks), but this doesn't seem like enough.

ABC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
2How to Get Away with Murder2.70-3%2.9838%25%4
3Grey's Anatomy2.62+3%2.53-11%37%25%3

The only real intrigue with these shows is the "Which is most impressive?" game. After the opening Thursday prelims I was torn between Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Grey's had a significant bounce against the most added competition, but Scandal got closer to the series high than expected. After the Grey's finals uptick, though, Grey's seemed like the winner. But Scandal held a lot better in week two, so I might be inching back in that direction now.

ABC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Holding Pattern
4Once Upon a Time2.16-22%2.05+15%43%35%4
5Agents of SHIELD1.66-8%1.65-40%45%55%4

There is still a lot to be sussed out among this group. Once Upon a Time is a big question mark now that it's through with Frozen... and as the Heat number indicates, it was already freezing cold even at the end of that arc. That's the worst Heat for a returning scripted series on any network, and it has that distinction by a wide margin if you throw out its lead-out Resurrection. Nashville just came back last week at a tie for its season low, and it will have to air after the seemingly weakened Black-ish going forward. Psychologically, it's felt a bit unfair to have these shows sitting on the shelf while Castle and Revenge kept airing through January to poor results that worsened their averages.

But let's be clear: they were poor results, and they justify the dark blue Heat qualifications. Castle fell off a cliff in week four of the season and just won't seem to offer up even a hint that it's going to come back, even as NBC has become irrelevant in the hour. And it's interesting that Revenge, which really validated its worth with some great results against January events last season, went totally the opposite way this year. In January 2014, it opened with a well above-average result and stayed within its fall range even against big events after bad lead-ins the next two weeks. This time, it started at a new low and never got any better.

ABC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
Looking Grim
10Agent Carter1.25-13%1.3038%53%1

The one good thing to say about Agent Carter is that it seems to have done a pretty good job tapping into the male audience that makes SHIELD stand out on the network. But its 18-49 numbers on the whole aren't good, as this just shouldn't be a tough timeslot right now. ABC has even tried helping with a couple original Shark Tank episodes, and it's remained well below the SHIELD low point. It'd be very acceptable as unscripted filler during a SHIELD hiatus, but I doubt this is a workable rating for the cost.

ABC UnscriptedTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
1Dancing with the Stars Fall2.35+16%2.36-2%21%28%5
2The Bachelor2.09+15%2.20-14%36%27%2
3Shark Tank2.06-3%1.86-4%32%45%5
4America's Funniest Home Videos1.57-1%1.25-3%27%41%4
6The Great Christmas Light Fight1.37-11%1.30+22%31%39%1
7The Taste0.98+7%0.87-24%35%33%3

I advise against using Heat for the "serialized" reality shows, but the number is pretty legit for Dancing with the Stars. It was crazy to see this show go from disappointment to even year-to-year to suddenly scorching hot in the last few weeks.

Only other thing I've got: it's probably time to say good-bye to The Taste.

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