Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 Upfront Answers, Fox

Last week, I asked "Upfront Questions" to preview each network's fall 2015 schedule. With the schedule now official, here are the "Upfront Answers"!

Fox's upfront previews: True Power Rankings | Upfront Questions

Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW


Fall 2015 Schedule
8-9 P.M. — Gotham

My Question: What's the best companion for Gotham?

Yep, it's Minority Report. The network went kinda crazy on its genre pilots, picking up Lucifer and Frankenstein, and Minority Report was one of the later pilot pickups, making this less obvious over the course of the process. But the most likely choice won out in the end.


Fall 2015 Schedule
8:30-9 P.M. — THE GRINDER

My Question: Does Fox have new comedies worth making extra room for?

Sort of, in that New Girl misses out on the fall schedule. There were two good reasons for this as the process developed: 1) New Girl had some really bad ratings in the last month of the season; and 2) clear top two comedy pilots Grandfathered and The Grinder seemed more compatible with each other than with New Girl. So the three shows on this night seem correct.

With that said, why Scream Queens at 9/8c?! Certainly it seems like the better prospect ratings-wise. Maybe it's not that compatible with the new comedies, but having Glee at 8/7c still benefited the slightly incompatible Raising Hope back in the day. And there were definitely counter-programming reasons to go the other way; Grandfathered and The Grinder seem very likely to face ABC comedies at 8/7c, while they could've gone against three dramas at 9/8c. And Scream Queens likely ends up facing three dramas, even if they're expected to skew a lot older or more male.


Fall 2015 Schedule
9-10 P.M. — Empire

My Question: How much Empire will Fox get?

THR says 18. The good news is that it was enough for the show to get back on in the fall. When Studio City fell through, Rosewood seemed like a candidate to join Empire. Not sure there's a lot of compatibility other than "They both have African-American leads!" but there seemingly weren't better choices available.

Once again, the big news here is that Empire returns to 9/8c to lead into local news rather than move to 8/7c to lead into another primetime program. I can think of a few reasons to do this: 1) stability for your top program; 2) Empire doesn't have content suitable for 8/7c? 3) Empire has a chance for truly historic ratings, and the 9/8c hour is an inherently easier place to run those up compared with lower-viewed 8/7c; and 4) Fox doesn't have to see their weekly awesome Empire news spoiled by bad PR about Rosewood's retention.

I guess #1 is a bit of a plus. But the last two are pure PR. Maybe this schedule makes it easier on the press release writers, and it's likely better for Empire, but I can't help but think it's worse for both Rosewood and Fox's total ratings.


Fall 2015 Schedule
8-9 P.M. — Bones
9-10 P.M. — Sleepy Hollow

My Question: Should Fox swing big on one of the only weeknights without World Series interruption?

Nope. It's funny to think that this wildly successful fall 2013 pairing feels like a punt just two years later. I happen to think both shows are a fair amount weaker than even MasterChef Junior, so I'd have rather seen the stronger show on this night. But MasterChef Junior was always going to be constrained by its short episode counts, so at least this lineup can fully exploit the lack of interruption. And nothing higher-end has to go up against TGIT. I'll take it.

Notable midseason news: it's the final season of American Idol!


Fall 2015 Schedule
8-9 P.M. — MasterChef Junior
9-10 P.M. — World's Funniest Fails

My Question: How much money does Fox want to spend on the night?

So far, no sign of scripted programming. MasterChef Junior tends to have very short seasons, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the network eventually bump Fails for drama encores, then premiere Fails after the MasterChef season ends.


Fall 2015 Schedule
7-7:30 P.M. — NFL on Fox
7:30-8 P.M. — The OT / Bob's Burgers
8-8:30 P.M. — The Simpsons
8:30-9 P.M. — Brooklyn Nine-Nine
9-9:30 P.M. — Family Guy
9:30-10 P.M. — The Last Man on Earth

My Question: Will animated newbie Bordertown kick one of the live-action successes off of Sunday (and/or off of the fall schedule)?

Nope. Ha. If there's one takeaway from the last couple years of Fox skeds, it's to never trust in Bordertown. They claim it's coming at midseason! Meanwhile, The Last Man on Earth gets a shot at the NFL halo, which is nice.


In terms of which shows ended up on which nights, Fox followed the seemingly obvious template to a tee: male drama Mondays, Scream Queens/comedy Tuesdays, Empire Wednesdays, filler Thursdays/Fridays. So, good job on getting the general idea right?

And yet, not using Scream Queens and Empire to lead into the new stuff is pretty hard to justify. The only way it really makes sense is if you just look purely at the content of the shows and disregard the ratings. Once you start looking at ratings at all, the logic falls apart completely. They're not using their biggest assets to help the assets that need the help. And a further example of this is that they're blowing the NFC Championship Game preview on a six-episode limited series (The X-Files).

All in all, Fox was so close to its ideal schedule, yet so far away. Putting the big guns at 9/8c could create some real holes that didn't need to be there.

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