Thursday, February 5, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case, February 2015: Fresh Off the Boat, The Blacklist, The Odd Couple and more!

Welcome to the Best Case/Worst Case for broadcast television's ten February premieres!

Fresh Off The Boat (NEW!)
Wednesday Preview February 4; Tuesday Premiere February 10

Timeslot OccupantsSelfie
Avg Orig Avg
1.29 1.29 1.07 1.23

Best Case: It's the Year Of Diversity. While this doesn't seem like favorable scheduling, it's going to be easier to self-start with a family comedy compared to something like Selfie, and the good reviews and Wednesday preview will help generate some real buzz. It can be about a league average show that skews young by family comedy standards at 1.75.

Worst Case: The lesson of Selfie is that launching a comedy with no lead-in support is extremely difficult without some big star or other hook. And while this is another diversity play, it's targeting a much smaller audience than the big African-American-driven hits. The acclaimed comedy crowd will be watching the surprisingly respectably-rated Parks and Recreation for the first couple weeks and won't catch on once it ends. Goes well below Selfie at a 0.80.

Likeliest: This should do at least a bit better than Selfie, especially since the average will include two Wednesday preview episodes. I see it settling at low 1's on Tuesday. That's probably not going to be enough for a renewal on sheer merit, but it might be just reasonable enough to make a reach renewal conversation interesting if the critical groundswell is really substantial. 1.31.

The Blacklist
Premieres February 5
y2y Label True Sitch Fall 2014 Slot
2.69 -15% big hit 2.37 +13% Monday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsBad Judge A to Z
Avg Orig Avg
1.31 0.89 0.94 1.12 0.75 1.02

Best Case: Because it's almost always had a huge lead-in, The Blacklist has never really gotten enough credit for just how well it has done, even considering that lead-in. And though The Blacklist's post-Super Bowl rating was a disappointment, it's still a pretty fat raw number that will set it up to hang a very large rating for the second half of the two-parter. It'll come down from the stratosphere, but it will do so shockingly close to where it was after The Voice. 2.65.

Worst Case: That 8.4 rating after the Super Bowl was just not pretty. Even The Following did big numbers in a post-football preview, and that was at the beginning of what became a very disappointing season. This show was losing steam late in its short fall run and the Super Bowl number was another bad sign about its momentum, so this is going to be another very The Following-esque trajectory. It starts at or very close to series low levels and is quickly south of 2.0. 1.75, and while it's still a clear renewal, NBC is in panic mode.

Likeliest: I've always felt the end result here was going to be very low 2's unless it had a really good lead-in, and it was simply a question of how much heat the Super Bowl airing provided. After seeing the disappointing result for that airing, I don't see anything too crazy happening with tonight's premiere, but it will still be a significant step above where it ultimately ends up. 2.15.

Allegiance (NEW!)
Premieres February 5

Timeslot OccupantsParenthood
Avg Orig Avg
1.50 1.26 1.29 1.61

Best Case: Among NBC's intelligence thrillers, this is the real gem. NBC simply gave State of Affairs the post-Voice berth out of a misguided faith in Katherine Heigl. This slot may be better anyway, since it'll have a consistent lead-in throughout. It has very good retention of a strong The Blacklist and picks up some noticeable steam in March when How to Get Away with Murder ends. 2.20.

Worst Case: This show is a much worse-reviewed rip-off of FX's The Americans, which has never really had much Nielsen muscle anyway. It was behind State of Affairs on the network's priority list, and we've seen how that show turned out. It turns out that The Blacklist is not really any stronger than the January lead-in SoA is getting from Celebrity Apprentice, and it's barely cracking 1.0. So Allegiance quickly dips to very low 1's and soon throws in some sub-1 ratings. 1.00.

Likeliest: I see this going on a very similar track to The Mysteries of Laura, starting out after a somewhat inflated lead-in and ultimately settling in the low-ish 1's, at about 60% retention of its Blacklist lead-in. We'll have to see whether NBC finds a clear alternative to the shows at that soft ratings level; if not, maybe this show or Laura will have a shot to return. I'm giving it basically the exact same 1.36 average that Laura will have through its first 13 eps.

The Slap (NEW!)
Premieres February 12

Timeslot OccupantsThe Biggest Loser
Avg Orig Avg
1.40 1.15 1.24 1.41

Best Case: In a world where domestic violence is a hot-button issue, limited series The Slap is able to get some significant attention outside of just TV media. The success of The Blacklist lifts all NBC Thursday boats, and that includes this league average-ish series in the lead-off role. 1.75.

Worst Case: Pretty much all the reaction I saw to the Super Bowl promos for this show was mockery. In the NBC Thursday black hole against Idol, Grey's and Big Bang, it's hopeless. 0.70.

Likeliest: This show was pretty far off my radar until I saw the promos during the Super Bowl, so maybe I'm missing out on another Empire or something. From my very limited perspective, it feels like the Believe or Crisis of this season, a show that's left to self-start without much real inherent appeal. It will be no better as a Blacklist lead-in than low-rated niche comedies would've been. 0.92.

Repeat After Me (NEW!)
Premieres February 17

Timeslot OccupantsManhattan Love Story
Avg Orig Avg
1.27 1.29 0.95 1.22

Best Case: World's Funniest Fails is the latest example of something that seemed to scream goofy "filler" but has quietly posted good numbers. This one will be even bigger; it seems a lot like that CBS series I Get That a Lot, which produced some pretty strong ratings at times. 1.60, building on its FotB lead-in, and it becomes a valuable filler piece moving forward.

Worst Case: Give ABC some credit for dredging up something original to air alongside FotB, but it's not going to be any better than the repeats ABC could've aired here. It starts below 1.0 and gets pulled after a couple episodes in Manhattan Love Story territory. 0.73.

Likeliest: Even though you will be hard-pressed to find a single person on the Internet who watches it, some casual viewers will latch on, as they so often do with this kind of show. Pretty nearly matches the very low 1's of Fresh Off the Boat, which may get it another low-priority order. 1.09.

The Odd Couple (NEW!)
Premieres February 19

Timeslot OccupantsMom
Avg Orig Avg
2.98 2.35 2.39 2.05

Best Case: Since Friends, Matthew Perry series (and there have been a lot of 'em) always get a very good sampling. The Odd Couple will be no exception, even if the demo is too young to remember the original series. CBS took the time to get this one right creatively, and that's clear since they're giving it the direct Big Bang lead-in. It's a recipe for a very big new comedy that helps reinvigorate CBS' declining presence in the space. It averages a 3.03.

Worst Case: The Friends crowd has finally thrown in the towel on Perry ever leading a good series again. The Odd Couple has disappointing retention of a softening TBBT from day one, and within a few weeks it's into The Millers territory. It averages a 1.80 in the 8:30 slot, and CBS fairly quickly switches it with Mom.

Likeliest: I don't think it will be quite as big a liability as The Millers, because it's hard to be that weak. But I'm also not sold it can settle at the upper 2's where Mom is right now. Even if the Perry Effect isn't what it once was, I would still expect a pretty strong sampling on premiere night (with the Two and a Half Men finale leading out). That, plus the fact that it should get original TBBT lead-ins for a pretty high percentage of the episodes, will help it get to a very similar average to what Mom has done. I think it gets renewed, but it will probably not feel as strong as the average would indicate by the end of the season. 2.38, which also happens to be very close to the raw numbers The Millers had from this point forward last season.

The Voice
Premieres February 23
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
3.55 / 3.18 -14% / -16% big hit 3.69 / 3.62 -4% / -12% Mon 8:00 / Tue 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Mon Fall Celebrity Apprentice
Avg Orig Avg
2.83 3.06 3.35 3.22 1.85 1.81

Best Case: Christina Aguilera is back, and people really missed her! Also, this season is set up a bit better competition-wise than the last two. The show won't run into anything quite as tough as the final How I Met Your Mother episodes from last spring or The Big Bang Theory from last fall. It turns the ship around and grows a little bit in Plus, down -7% / -5% to 3.30 / 3.03.

Worst Case: The last spring season almost certainly would've dropped even more if not for the promotion during the Winter Olympics. This time, it has no Olympics, and the Super Bowl promotion three weeks ago won't make much impact either. Since last spring was a bit inflated, the bleeding speeds up noticeably - down well over 20% on each night to 2.70 / 2.45.

Likeliest: There was not much indication during the fall that the show is going to stop declining, even after the competition lessened, but the landscape also won't be quite as hard as the logjam that the fall season dealt with. So I'm going with the 15%ish drop that has characterized the last couple seasons. The only thing I really have to add is that I see it declining a bit less on Tuesday because it will have some extra two-hour episodes early in the season. -16% / -14% to 3.00 / 2.74.

The Night Shift
Premieres February 23
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
solid(sum) 1.45 -6% Tuesday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Blacklist State of Affairs
Avg Orig Avg
1.91 2.00 2.69 2.37 1.31 1.37

Best Case: The Night Shift is very much in lock-step with the soapy procedural brand NBC has built around SVU and the Chicago shows. It is poised to benefit big-time from higher viewing levels and an even bigger lead-in than it had in the summer. It explodes to 2.03, nearly matching the Plus of an above average Voice lead-out like Revolution.

Worst Case: It's not like The Night Shift is being dragged out of oblivion here. It already had a pretty huge lead-in from America's Got Talent during the summer, and by the time the dust settled, it was blowing through at least half of it. The lead-in will get stronger, but Night Shift will have a sophomore slump and thus go well below 50% retention-wise. 1.30.

Likeliest: I'm personally more interested to see what happens with Undateable in March, since that's a genuine outhouse-to-penthouse treatment. This show already had a good situation in the summer. The Night Shift already has a proven not-that-terrible track record, and I expect that to remain the case here. I don't really see it settling much better than where State of Affairs was in its limited time with The Voice lead-in, but the opening weeks will benefit since it gets the early part of The Voice's season. 1.64.

Premieres February 25
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
2.39 -7% hit 2.60 -8% Wednesday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsSurvivor Fall The Mentalist
Avg Orig Avg
2.00 2.17 2.35 2.39 1.38 1.43

Best Case: The opening weeks of the fall season showed that a Survivor season can actually produce year-to-year growth, and this White Collar/Blue Collar/No Collar concept might be enough of a hook to sustain that growth. Up almost 5% to a 2.50.

Worst Case: The fall season grew in Plus following two decline seasons. Meanwhile, there have been two straight Plus growth seasons in the spring, meaning this one is due for a decline. Down 18% to a 1.96.

Likeliest: The show is "due" for a slightly off spring season, but it won't be way off because it will benefit from the continued decline of its American Idol competition. It will go down just a touch above league average, just over 11% to a 2.12, and it just barely ekes out another "hit" label.

The Amazing Race
Wednesday Preview February 25; Friday Premiere February 27
y2y Label True Sitch 2013-14 Slot
1.76 -25% marginal 1.98 -11% Sunday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Amazing Race Fall Undercover Boss
Avg Orig Avg
1.16 1.23 1.17 1.42 1.43 1.57

Best Case: This season of the Race has a significant advantage over the fall one: it gets a Wednesday preview with a Survivor lead-in. It turns out that a lot of this show's audience basically forgot the show existed when it moved to Friday, and this preview will serve as a reminder. That helps the Race get back to the Undercover Boss-esque numbers it always should've been pulling on Friday. 1.40, down only about 20% from last spring's Olympics- and Oscars-damaged season.

Worst Case: The disaster continues for the Race on Friday, except now with more Daylight Saving viewing depressions! This show has usually done at least 10% worse in the spring than in the fall, and that will continue in this spring season with a 1.02, mimicking the -42% year-to-year trend from the fall.

Likeliest: Even without the Wednesday preview, the trend probably wouldn't be quite as bad this spring. It's going from fall comparisons that had NFL help to spring comparisons that got damaged by airing against the Oscars (and in 2014's case, the Olympics). The special Wednesday airing will help cancel out the damage inflicted by DST, but Race will remain a soft Friday option. 1.17, down 34% from last spring.

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