Friday, May 1, 2015

CW 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

The CWTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The "Big Eight" Mortal Locks
1The Flash1.46+0%1.3647%60%7

More than any other network, it is now useful to look at the CW almost as two different networks; there's the "big eight," the eight hours from Monday thru Thursday in the fall, and then there's another network where things like Beauty and the Beast and Reign can get shepherded to high episode counts in low-priority slots, with the first-run ratings completely irrelevant. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I think it's more interesting trying to suss out the "big eight" rather than the shows on the renew/cancel margin based on nebulous factors. And these are the only two shows that 100.000% will be "big eight."

The CWTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Other "Big Eight" Candidates
3The Vampire Diaries0.79-5%0.66-30%60%32%7
5The Originals0.59-12%0.50-35%56%36%7
7Jane the Virgin0.55+8%0.4951%28%7

This all seemed so simple last time we power ranked the CDub. To quote myself directly:
"Now, armed with Golden Globes and increasingly worthy ratings, [Jane the Virgin] has become the heavy favorite among the CDub's lower-tier shows to stay in a high-priority timeslot. It would probably take either a ratings collapse, an awesome new class, or great numbers from iZombie to prevent this from happening, and I'm not even sure one of those would be enough."
Welp... I dunno about the awesome new class, but the rest of it has played out in nearly the most complicated way possible. iZombie had a couple weeks that were legitimately hinting at greatness. The last two points were a noticeable step down, and I'd really like to see a more encouraging point in the next week or two. But it's worthy based on the full body of work right now, and it'd probably rank higher here if the formula accounted for its gender incompatibility with The Flash. Also, Jane the Virgin is looking shaky again. I don't think it has full-on collapsed to the very early levels when it legitimately could've been cancelled; 0.4 now is still better than those 0.4's in the middle of the fall. But it isn't good. There's also been a late-season swoon from The Originals, plus the bombshell that The Vampire Diaries is losing its female lead after this season (the only reason I don't put TVD in the above tier).

It'd be unprecedented for the CDub to have fewer than two newbies, and it's also hard to see TVD missing out on the "big eight" when it's (for now) such a clear #3 on the network. Assuming those things are right, that leaves Supernatural, The Originals, Jane the Virgin and iZombie seemingly duking it out for no more than three "big eight" slots, with the last one sent to Friday. (Or held for midseason?) If it's all about ratings merit, Jane the Virgin has the least, and in very recent weeks it's by an even wider margin than the Power Rankings averages say. But it's also a show from the always underrepresented CBS Studios, and it's got probably the best critical buzz for a netlet show since Veronica Mars, so I think the network gives it another shot on a "big" night. It can always try Friday later on, and maybe it will ultimately be better off there like Hart of Dixie was this season. But there's still a certain stigma about Friday moves that I see keeping it on Monday at 9/8c for now. On iZombie, I really have no idea where it goes, but for this post it suffices to say that renewing it and moving it to Friday this early in the game would be too harsh.

So I think the Friday treatment goes to either Supernatural or The Originals. While Supernatural has done a bit better in True since going to Wednesday post-Arrow, it's still gone down a bit more in raw numbers, and I would call the season as a whole rather disappointing considering the strength of its lead-ins. Additionally, it has made a strong transition to Friday in the past, and it has always been a show with confoundingly low ad rates given its 18-49 ratings. Though facing TGIT is far from ideal, The Originals pairing with TVD on Thursday would be a nice compatibility play that might be the best way to squeeze one more competent year out of the fading vampire empire. So even though it's the strongest 18-49 player, my vote for odd man out is SPN. It's a thin margin, though. Wouldn't be surprised by Jane or Originals either.

The CWTrueHeatA18-49y2ySkew%MaleCounted Eps
The Rest
8The 1000.53+3%0.48-15%42%53%6
9Hart of Dixie0.52+1%0.40+16%44%32%4
10Whose Line Is It Anyway?0.48n/a0.30-42%48%50%1
11Cedric's Barber Battle0.48n/a0.3039%59%1
12America's Next Top Model0.47+1%0.38-14%45%26%6
14The Messengers0.41n/a0.2032%40%1

It's practically impossible to find a "big eight" fall slot for any of these shows. Could any of them even find Monday-Thursday during any part of the regular season? I might have said yes for The 100 earlier in the season, but the success of iZombie coupled with the prospect of another DC Comics superhero show at midseason may have closed even that door, unless the fall newbies are truly disastrous. I think The 100 shows up on Friday after Top Model is over, and the struggling Reign not till late spring or summer.

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