Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case: Black-ish, The Mysteries of Laura, Rosewood, Empire

Best Case/Worst Case lays out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere.

This season, each show gets previewed on the day it premieres... except for the premiere week veterans, which we did last week. Here are the Premiere Wednesday vets, also premiering tonight unless otherwise indicated.

2.28 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
136 1.97 Wednesday 9:30

Timeslot OccupantsBlack-ish
Avg Orig Avg
2.13 2.27 2.28 1.97

In a Nutshell: After many years of trying to fit square pegs in the round hole that is the Modern Family lead-in, ABC finally settled on this compatible African-American family comedy starring Anthony Anderson. And - what do you know! - it got them easily their best ratings in the timeslot since Modern premiered.

Best Case: Empire shmempire. This is a sophomore comedy that showed promise last season, and promising sophomore comedies go up. It probably has less Empire crossover than people think anyway. Black-ish's retention out of Modern Family didn't get markedly worse over the course of the season, and after a summer of exposure it's gonna take a major turn for the better this year. It's up 10% to a 2.51, with 90% or better MF retention.

Worst Case: Empire is going to be bigger than ever, and that will hurt nothing quite like it does Black-ish. Modern is going to take a 20% hit since it's up against the beast, and Black-ish's retention gets markedly worse as casual fans flood into the 9:30 half-hour of Empire. Down well over 25% to a 1.63. It's still renewed, but ABC is going to have to find a way to get this show out of Empire's way.

Likeliest: It's another show like Scorpion where it would have to do big things just to get to last season's Plus rating, in this case due to the Empire competition and what I believe will be a somewhat reduced Modern Family lead-in. But this was my favorite of the ABC comedy bunch for much of last year, and since it's a sophomore I think it's gonna make this surprisingly close. The retention of aging Modern Family will subtly improve this season as Black-ish drops just barely more than the league average: -12% to a 2.00.

The Mysteries of Laura
1.22 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
72 1.40 Wednesday 8:00

Timeslot OccupantsThe Mysteries of Laura
Avg Orig Avg
1.20 1.28 1.18 1.39

In a Nutshell: NBC led off its tri-drama Wednesday with the old-skewing Debra Messing newbie, which was somewhat passable in the first half of the season before plummeting to 1.0 or lower for most episodes after the new year.

Best Case: Laura's going to benefit from being associated with all the branding around the Dick Wolf empire, which for the most part is still on the upswing. It was really hurt by competition from American Idol and The Mentalist last winter and should be able to bounce back against foes with less overlap this fall. It's able to keep clinging to very low-1's and is actually up in Plus, just 3% below last year's average at a 1.18. It gets a back nine and the rest of NBC is such a dumpster fire that it somehow keeps the slot again for season three.

Worst Case: Laura didn't do that badly early on, but it was a different show in the second half of the season, posting 1.0's even in the early winter when viewing levels should be favorable. It's going to be fractional immediately this time, and NBC will undoubtedly be upgrading this slot at midseason. (If not before?) Down just over a third to 0.75.

Likeliest: I definitely don't see this show being as "strong" as it was last fall, as it will probably only bring about its usual winter/spring deliveries: some 1.0's and some dips lower. I give it a 0.96, which is "only" down a little over 20% from the full average, but more importantly it's down over a quarter from last season's first 13. I'm assuming it clears out of the slot for the second half of the season, but if not I would go 0.06 points lower.

Rosewood (NEW!)

Timeslot OccupantsHell's Kitchen Fall American Idol Wed
Avg Orig Avg
2.01 2.01 1.34 1.46 2.08 2.21

In a Nutshell: Lacking a particularly compatible pairing for the giga-hit drama Empire, Fox is hoping to reel in some of that crowd with another African American-led drama: Morris Chestnut's medical examiner procedural Rosewood.

Best Case: This show looks like the kind of breezy fun that could succeed with a great support system, like so many CBS dramas have. Pre-tune from one of the biggest broadcast series ever and only token drama competition is a pretty good start. Perhaps nothing tells us more about how much of a monster Empire is than the fact that it can usher freaking Rosewood to big hit levels. 2.30.

Worst Case: The preseason awareness and social indicators suggest there is absolutely no interest in this show, which is downright catastrophic considering the promos are packaging it alongside something as huge as Empire. The Empire crowd is savvy enough to show up right at 9/8c and really doesn't help this show at all, and it's pulled very quickly. 0.70.

Likeliest: It might be interesting to see what this show could do with a really broad-based lead-in like peak American Idol. But airing before a giga-hit with a laser-focused young audience probably isn't gonna cut it. I really hate this one because it's just all about how much pre-tune is gonna prop it up, and I'm not sure there's been a comparable situation in recent history. It might be unrealistic for a show to go this low with such a ginormous lead-out, or it might be unrealistic to expect a lead-out series to prop up such a clear failure even this much. I'm just shrugging and going with 1.20, which I'm pretty sure Fox would not find this acceptable for this situation long-term.

5.09 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
303 4.66 Wednesday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsRed Band Society Empire
Avg Orig Avg
2.59 2.57 0.97 1.15 5.00 4.55

In a Nutshell: The midseason hip-hop drama Empire was the biggest new series on record in historical-adjusted numbers. It was a big surprise when it broke out with a 3.8 on premiere night, but that was only the beginning of this staggering tale; it grew all but two weeks in the rest of its 12-episode run, culminating with an incredible 6.1/6.9 finale night in March.

Best Case: There's absolutely no indication of viewer dissatisfaction with this series... I mean, you can't do much better than growing almost every week. So if it's well over a seven on premiere night, it's gonna keep breaking a seven for most of the rest of the way, perhaps finally falling a bit in the spring. 7.00, the biggest broadcast scripted series on record in Plus by miles and miles. And hey, if The Walking Dead comes back to earth a bit this season, we can finally say the top drama on TV is back on broadcast!

Worst Case: On some level, this was just one of those lightning-in-a-bottle one-off things that took over the zeitgeist for a few months, and lightning doesn't strike twice. It actually returns at more like the season average rather than the finale, and eventually it settles at around that 3.8 series premiere number, going even below it in the spring. It's down a little over 25% to a still huge but disappointing 3.70, and it's clear from the trend that it'll be out of megahit territory by season three.

Likeliest: So many sophomore serial predictions are like trying to catch a falling knife, because the season one average was so front-loaded. This is in the super-unique position of being a very back-loaded average, where it really feels uncomfortable calling for much of a decline even if the whole thing feels impossible. Following the script hasn't really worked yet, but the usual script with huge broadcast serials is that they peak around the end of season one/beginning of season two. So I think it opens just above the finale rating and then is pretty much downhill from there. But how far downhill? I think it'll get to the 4's for a chunk of the spring run, but still not far enough down to take it below last year's raw average. It's up 4% to a 5.30, which is bigger in Plus than peak Idol.......

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