Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NBC True Power Rankings, May 2015

Every weekday for the next three weeks, this blog will have a meaty piece of coverage surrounding the annual schedule releases. It starts this week with the season's final edition of the True Power Rankings, the SHOW-centric half of the upfront preview, digging deep into the merits of individual shows by network. Next week come the Upfront Questions, the SCHEDULE-centric look ahead to upfront week. The following week, the schedules come out, and with them come the Upfront Answers.

The True/A18-49 averages cover the last one-third of aired episodes this season, rounded up, through Sunday, April 26.

Other May True Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW

NBC ComediesTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Pity Party
2Parks and Recreation1.32-8%1.10+15%52%43%4
3One Big Happy1.15-9%1.1039%41%2

Undateable would be a sub-bubble show on other networks, but on comedy challenged NBC it probably comes back. It is a not-completely-awful excuse to avoid axing an entire comedy department, and that opportunity must be seized. I wouldn't even rule out a fall schedule berth next year, though that would probably be less about its own merit and more because it was the best option to accompany some really promising multi-cam in development.

One Big Happy has been steady enough since week two that it probably shouldn't be counted completely out, though the True formula really disliked the last 1.1 on a higher-viewed night than usual. Before that, the show didn't seem markedly weaker than other pity renewal candidates like The Mysteries of Laura and The Night Shift. Like Laura, it could get NBC out of having to kill a whole newbie class. The problem is that a half-hour show is tougher to use as low-priority filler. It's kind of in a Cristela-esque position, hoping to return as a companion for its current lead-in and having to count on all other potential candidates bombing out. With a whooping six multi-cams in NBC development, that seems pretty unlikely. But perhaps there's the alternative possibility that they could pick a bunch of them up and want OBH as a second somewhat known quantity?

NBC ComediesTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Dunzo
4About a Boy1.07-7%0.84-45%37%36%5
5Marry Me0.96-18%0.7840%35%5
6Bad Judge0.90-26%0.7632%35%5
7A to Z0.88-17%0.5836%34%5

NBC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Actual Worthy Scripted Series!
1The Blacklist1.92-14%1.67-26%31%43%6
2Chicago Fire1.77-9%1.74-9%31%36%7
3Law and Order: SVU1.76-2%1.50-10%28%34%7
4Chicago PD1.73+3%1.54-4%28%37%7

The Blacklist deserves at least some of the blame for how ugly things have gotten on Thursday. Still, I could've never imagined a scenario in which the show got this little support on the night. I mean, The Slap and repeats of The Blacklist? That's as pathetic as it gets. As disappointing as The Biggest Loser was this fall, even it would be a noticeable step up from what it's gotten thus far. Heroes Reborn and the Neil Patrick Harris show are other potential self-starters that might be good for this kind of role (even if I'm a lot more down on the idea of Heroes than others seem to be).

Will any of the three Dick Wolf shows get moved next season? Generally speaking, the best reason to do so would be to soak up the Wednesday 8/7c hour that Empire will presumably be dominating next fall (and the specific show doing that should be SVU). That would put a Wednesday newbie (Chicago Med? Jennifer Lopez's Shades of Blue?) in a better position to succeed. A secondary reason to move them could be helping The Blacklist on Thursday. But in both cases, there are other potential self-starters that could occupy those roles that wouldn't (particularly in the case of a Thursday move) be mortgaging a long-term syndication future.

NBC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Pity Party
7A.D. The Bible Continues1.32-31%1.1527%44%2
8The Mysteries of Laura1.30-11%1.0621%32%7
9The Night Shift1.23+6%1.30-3%31%36%4

The Night Shift was looking like a fire-me-into-the-sun level disaster in its opening weeks when its lead-in was over a 4.0. But it's held pretty close to those initial raw numbers as The Voice weakened significantly, and now it's more like the unimpressive performer it was during the summer, dropping only a little over half of its upper 2's lead-in. It's sad that NBC is a network where that might be an important distinction, but here we are.

That so-called Heat for The Night Shift has made it pretty close to the same level of show as The Mysteries of Laura, and A.D. with a 1.1 on a less competitive Sunday is basically in this territory now too. None of them should be on a fall schedule or really even a regular season schedule. None of them are close enough to be thinking about traditional syndication (Laura and TNS each have one full season, basically). So it seems like any further renewals will be about costs, very low-priority scheduling needs, and PR. It's tough to parse this stuff. Laura has the PR advantage of being a new show, which could matter, and it still grades out a little stronger than The Night Shift most weeks. Yet The Night Shift has the backing of the always persuasive Sony studio. If one absolutely must survive, I guess maybe Night Shift because it has aired in the summer before and may have the financial setup to do so again? Trust this retentionista when I say it wouldn't be because it's "above the NBC scripted average." It's a weak show, and NBC knows it.

Overall, this is a brutal "bubble" to have to stomach. Cancelling the whole tier seems like the "best" play unless NBC is presented with an extremely favorable license fee. I just don't see any real practical need to bring back any of 'em.

NBC DramasTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Dunzo
10State of Affairs1.15-13%1.0430%39%5
13The Slap0.88-8%0.7027%41%3
14American Odyssey0.79-20%0.5024%45%2

The only thing sadder than the NBC bubble is the fact that huge underperformers like State of Affairs and Constantine are honestly not that far away from it. But I don't see any good reason why the network would make an even bigger reach for one of these shows.

NBC UnscriptedTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
1The Voice Mon2.89-17%2.80-11%34%39%3
2The Voice Mon Fall2.66-24%2.76-17%36%38%5
3The Voice Tue2.62-21%2.43-3%34%n/a3
4The Voice Tue Fall2.59-11%2.64-16%34%38%5
5Celebrity Apprentice1.71-6%1.7339%37%3
6Dateline Fri1.49-3%1.11-6%25%37%9
7The Biggest Loser1.28-9%1.13-36%35%35%6

With even an average newbie class, NBC probably could've at the very least given The Biggest Loser a year off. With this one? It may well be back in fall 2015.

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