Monday, September 14, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case, Premiere Monday Vets: The Voice, The Big Bang Theory and more!


The acclaimed season preview Best Case/Worst Case is back for a fourth season, laying out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere. This year, each show will be previewed on the day it premieres... with the exception of this week, when we're knocking out some of the numerous premiere week predictions a week early. Most of these posts will preview only premiere week veteran series today, with rookies and sophomores coming next week. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows previewed this week premiere exactly one week after the day of the post.



Dancing with the Stars
2.13 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
127 2.20 Monday 8:00
y2y:-1% +11%

Timeslot OccupantsDancing with the Stars Fall The Bachelor Dancing with the Stars Spring
Avg Orig Avg
2.06 2.10 2.05 2.13 2.39 2.34 2.08 2.18

Unlike the other shows in this post, Dancing with the Stars premieres tonight (September 14). 

In a Nutshell: After peaking in its 2010-11 seasons, Dancing with the Stars appeared to be on an epic collapse over the next two years, bottoming out around pretty close to the 100 league average. But the last two years (with the show mostly shrunk to one airing a week) have seen a nice rejuvenation, allowing both 2014-15 seasons to fall right around the 125 A18-49+ "hit" threshold.

Best Case: The story of the summer has been the exceptional hold for (most) unscripted franchises. Reality TV was always supposed to have the advantage of being DVR-proof, and it's finally asserting that in a big way. That means that this relatively healthy franchise in a well-cast season can actually grow in raw numbers, up 6% to 2.25.

Worst Case: The healthiness of the last fall season came mostly because the show just got scorching hot at the end of the season for some reason. The real story here is that DWTS premieres have been increasingly disappointing and buzz-less lately. If it starts slow and gets snowed under by premiere week competition again, chances are it won't rally so well this time. Down just over 20% to a 1.68.

Likeliest: It feels like we're getting close to the end of this DWTS comeback, but it was solid enough throughout the spring season that it should be able to eke out one more positive Plus season. Not by much, though. -8% to a 1.96.



Castle
1.56 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
93 1.62 Monday 10:00
y2y:-19% -10%

Timeslot OccupantsCastle
Avg Orig Avg
1.51 1.68 1.56 1.62

In a Nutshell: Castle has been one of ABC's rare successful forays into the procedural realm, hovering around the league average for many years in the Monday 10/9c timeslot. But 2014-15 appeared to be the beginning of a real downturn, with the show hitting its lowest Plus since season two.

Best Case: Castle is in a good position to benefit from the general upswing around unscripted programming. If Black-ish could drag Nashville to a positive Plus season, surely it can be done with Castle if both DWTS and The Bachelor have significantly improved seasons. It's down 6% to a 1.47.

Worst Case: The show was down significantly for most of last year, and seemed to get even weaker as the season progressed. And that was while NBC was botching the 10/9c hour for most of the year! It's almost impossible Blindspot will do that badly. The rate of decline speeds up some more: -30% to a 1.09. There's no way it stays here again.

Likeliest: Castle should continue to have very good lead-ins, so I have a hard time going for a really catastrophic scenario. But it's clearly a weakening show, so I'm sticking with a similar drop to what happened last year. Down 20% to a 1.25.



The Big Bang Theory
4.32 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
257 4.34 Mon 8:00, Thu 8:00
y2y:-15% -4%

Timeslot OccupantsThe Big Bang Theory 2 Broke Girls
Avg Orig Avg
2.32 2.53 4.80 4.76 2.02 2.15

In a Nutshell: In 2014-15, this decade's biggest sitcom took its first above-average decline since 2010-11, the year it moved from Thursday to Monday. It had a unique setup that saw it air early-season episodes on Monday due to Thursday Night Football, then return to Thursday in the late fall.

Best Case: Big Bang actually did incredibly well for last fall's Monday episodes, and Monday is well set up with a wedding premiere and a weaker Gotham as competition. The real declines didn't set in till after the return to Thursday; on some level, it seemed like people didn't know it was back initially. This time, CBS will promote the return to Thursday more heavily, especially since it's coming alongside a newbie this time. That keeps Big Bang even in Plus, if not a touch better. -7% to a 4.00.

Worst Case: As a show ages, things like this Monday-Thursday jerkaround seem to do more and more damage. Last fall's Monday episodes are an almost impossible standard to match, and the transition back to Thursday will take out an even bigger chunk this time (especially with tougher competition from Heroes). It's down 28% to a 3.10, just barely hanging on to the megahit label.

Likeliest: Even if the premiere does well, it's only a half-hour, so much of that boost will be cancelled out since last year's premiere was an hour. For the most part, 20%ish declines are gonna be the norm, both on Monday and Thursday. It probably doesn't matter much for this show, but an incompatible lead-out at 8:30 won't help either. 3.46. Just crossing my fingers that Supergirl does well enough that CBS can justify leaving this show off the sked in the early weeks next season.



NCIS: Los Angeles
1.60 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
95 1.68 Monday 10:00
y2y:-34% -26%

Timeslot OccupantsNCIS: Los Angeles
Avg Orig Avg
1.71 1.60 1.60 1.68

In a Nutshell: NCIS: Los Angeles enjoyed five successful seasons on Tuesday, where it had solid enough retention of the mothership NCIS. A move to Monday 10/9c started off a bit slow and ultimately saw a huge decline from last year, but it was still CBS' highest-rated series in the 10:00 hour.

Best Case: Supergirl is huge and its lead-out Scorpion holds up very well. That leaves a bigger audience available at 9:30, and there are also plenty of Castle defectors looking for a procedural option after Dancing with the Stars is over. -4% to 1.54.

Worst Case: Moving to any lead-out other than NCIS was always gonna be a bad thing for an NCIS spin-off. But Scorpion was very strong in its own right, and LA should've held up better. There was a lot of "real" decline baked into that -34%, and that will become more obvious in LA's second season in this slot. It sheds over 25% to a 1.18, and Blindspot reigns supreme in this hour.

Likeliest: I have reasonably high hopes for Supergirl and Scorpion, and enough of that audience will stick around to keep NCIS: LA from declining much. But this is still an old show that should be eroding a little bit, and NBC's presumed improvement at 10/9c for most of the season won't help matters. -14% to a 1.37.



The Voice
3.35 A18-49+TrueFall 2014 Slot
199 3.22 Mon 8:00/Tue 8:00
y2y:-17% -7%

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Fall Celebrity Apprentice The Voice Spring
Avg Orig Avg
2.80 2.93 3.35 3.22 1.87 1.82 3.08 3.08

In a Nutshell: The Voice has been down in A18-49+ on the main night for the last three seasons, but it's avoided any real alarming trend as none of those seasons have been down double digits; last fall's -7% was the worst trend in series history.

Best Case: Repeat the DWTS best case section. Reality is taking over the world again, and NBC's summer offerings were particular bright spots. If any Voice season is due to "even out" in a good way, it'd be the fall 2014 one, which had the biggest drop in Voice history. It's very close to even in raw numbers on Monday at a 3.30. (And even up a touch to 3.02 on Tuesday, which will get a bunch of its one-hour airings at higher-viewed 9:00.)

Worst Case: The last spring season had a good trend, but it was largely propped up by the early part of the season, as viewers are getting less and less interested in everything after the blind auditions. We'll see those trends continue to worsen in the second half of the season, leading to a 22% drop to 2.60 (with a 2.40 on Tuesday).

Likeliest: Usually I just phone in a small decline in Plus for The Voice and call it a day, but NBC's summer heat "worries" me this time. I'm kinda riding the fence here and just giving it a tiny decline in Plus on Monday, and I see the Tuesday editions being up a bit since they're better-scheduled (which was what happened on Tuesday in the spring as well). 2.95 on Monday, 2.73 on Tuesday.

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