Thursday, September 24, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case: How to Get Away with Murder, Heroes Reborn, The Player

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 Thursday vets, also premiering tonight unless otherwise indicated.

How to Get Away with Murder
2.96 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
176 2.76 Thursday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsHow to Get Away with Murder American Crime
Avg Orig Avg
1.79 2.18 2.98 2.77 1.16 1.30

In a Nutshell: ABC slid both Grey's Anatomy and Scandal down an hour to fit in a third Shonda Rhimes-produced drama, and How to Get Away with Murder was a huge success that more than lived up to the billing. It was generally 10%+ below its Scandal lead-in, particularly after the new year, but it still ended up with the highest TGIT average because it ended its season in February before Scandal collapsed.

Best Case: Viola Davis just won the Emmy! Maybe it seems unfair that Murder had a higher average than Scandal just because it wrapped early, but the Emmy heat is gonna make that the case on a weekly basis this time. And there was much less actual indication of declining interest here than with Scandal, which had that spring collapse just after Murder ended. So Murder holds onto last year's Plus or inches up at a 2.75.

Worst Case: Two words: Limited. Series. All these serialized shows that wrap up early seem to have a disastrous season two trend, and this will be no exception. Out of sight, out of mind. It finds a far weaker Scandal lead-in than it ever knew in its initial run, and the retention of that Scandal gets worse too. 1.77, shedding 40ish% as is limited series tradition.

Likeliest: Almost all the limited series that have tanked have had some kind of ominous trend late in season one. I dunno that it was really the case with Murder, though the retention did get a touch worse in the 2015 eps that aired after a super-strong Scandal. I think it'll still mostly be at roughly 10% behind its Scandal lead-in, as was the case late last season. Scandal will fall in the spring, but not as much as last year, and that allows it to hold off HTGAWM for the highest TGIT average this time. Murder opens around last year's low and drops to a 2.22, down 25% from last year but still pretty darn strong.

Heroes Reborn (NEW!)

Timeslot OccupantsThe Biggest Loser The Slap Dateline Wed
Avg Orig Avg
1.15 1.09 1.24 1.41 0.85 1.12 1.10 1.39

In a Nutshell: Heroes was one of the A18-49+ era's biggest new dramas, averaging a whooping 163 for NBC in the 2006-07 season and nearly matching that with a 158 in 2007-08. But it was also a four-year flameout, absolutely tanking to 121 and then 82 in the next two seasons. NBC's hoping absence will make the heart grow fonder as it returns to the sked for a 13-episode revival, featuring a decent chunk of the original cast.

Best Case: Heroes' success a decade ago on a downtrodden NBC was pretty amazing. In 2015, it finds a culture that is even more in love with superheroes and a network that has a broader audience watching the promos. And NBC has a good recent track record with bringing old favorites back from hiatus; it did good things for The Biggest Loser, Celebrity Apprentice and Last Comic Standing. Heroes is truly reborn, bringing in some new audience and matching or even edging its season one Plus with a 2.50.

Worst Case: It's been in development for a very long time, which isn't a great sign. The A18-49+ from the final season was pretty telling in how the 24 revival went a couple years ago, and that was a show that had gotten much less rejection by the end of its initial run. So like 24, it's down double digits from the last season's Plus at a really rough 0.85, dipping into fractional territory by the second or third week.

Likeliest: I haven't liked this idea since it was announced. It should benefit from a double-premiere and airing entirely in the fall, so I won't quite pull the trigger on going below the season four Plus. But it won't be too far off. This show was so badly rejected in its last seasons that the name will be a stigma for a lot of people. Maybe they should've just tried coming up with a new superhero-adjacent idea? A front-loaded 1.30 and a relatively OK effort as support for the early The Blacklist weeks, but low enough by the end that NBC decides not to go any farther.

The Player (NEW!)

Timeslot OccupantsParenthood Allegiance Dateline Wed
Avg Orig Avg
1.22 1.05 1.29 1.61 0.86 1.07 0.97 1.28

In a Nutshell: After getting nothing from the first The Blacklist Thursday lead-out Allegiance last season, NBC is trying something a little higher-octane this fall. Wesley Snipes and Philip Winchester star in a Las Vegas-set drama about a high-stakes gambling game related to crime-fighting.

Best Case: NBC made a much, much better choice for the post-Blacklist slot this time, trading out Allegiance for something that's bigger, louder and just plain more fun. It's a perfect match with The Blacklist, if not even stronger, averaging a 1.55.

Worst Case: It's NBC Thursday. 'Nuff said. If A to Z could go fractional-of-fractional in the highest-viewed half-hour of the night, The Player can surely become a massive black hole disaster at 10/9c, dropping more than half of an already flailing Blacklist. 0.60.

Likeliest: This show needs a lot of things to go right: it needs Heroes Reborn to do good business, it needs some of that strength to help out The Blacklist, and then it actually needs to appeal to The Blacklist's audience. Considering it's NBC Thursday, this is just not a parlay I'm willing to play, even if I think it looks better than some of the crap NBC put out last year. It settles south of 1.0: 0.90 and ended after 13 eps.

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