Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case, Premiere Tuesday pt. 1: Best Time Ever, NCIS 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.

This is the one exception to the "veterans in pre-premiere week, rookies/sophomores in premiere week" rule; Best Time Ever premieres tonight, and I also moved the NCIS: NO prediction to this post just to keep next Tuesday from getting overly long.

Best Time Ever (NEW!)

Timeslot OccupantsThe Voice Tue Fall Parks and Recreation The Voice Tue Spr
Avg Orig Avg
2.29 2.56 3.08 2.99 1.30 1.42 3.09 3.13

Unlike the other shows in this post, Best Time Ever premieres tonight (September 15) after America's Got Talent.

In a Nutshell: After tonight's premiere, the Neil Patrick Harris variety show airs again at 10/9c after The Voice next week, then moves to 8/7c for the last six episodes starting September 29.

Best Case: This show has found one of the most appealing hosts out there. Even if it's kind of a weird format, a lot can be forgiven if the right guy is at the helm. It has full retention of Got Talent tonight, grows week-to-week when The Voice arrives next week, and holds most of that at 8/7c when it's still in The Voice's halo. 2.10.

Worst Case: There's a reason there's nothing much like this in American primetime. It faces Dancing with the Stars for the two weeks that it has good lead-in support, which keeps it from doing noticeably better than the stuff that's occupied 10/9c this summer. Then it's thrown into NCIS and The Muppets beyond that. It's just not an essential enough program to attract much interest opposite those competitors and is into fractional territory at 8/7c. 1.00.

Likeliest: I could see this doing poorly if it were on its own, but it seems like the kind of thing that will benefit a lot from proximity to The Voice. A nice audience samples the opening two weeks, but at 8:00 it manages only a mid-1 and dips into low-1's. 1.51. Probably still enough for another shot, but in a lower-priority time of year?

2.43 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
144 2.52 Tuesday 8:00
y2y:-14% -3%

Timeslot OccupantsNCIS
Avg Orig Avg
2.10 2.43 2.43 2.52

In a Nutshell: Now into its second decade, the CBS procedural amazingly grew in Plus throughout the aughts and was the top broadcast drama in 2011-12 and 2012-13. But it finally took its first above-average decline in season eleven, and had another small one last year.

Best Case: NCIS slowed its declines last year when Agents of SHIELD moved out of the slot. This year, there's still no big four drama competition, and the show gets Neil Patrick Harris instead of The Voice for the early fall. That leads to a comeback season: it's down just 5% to a 2.31.

Worst Case: Many of the worst NCIS points year-to-year were late in the spring, and there was very little interest in the finale which was stuck at 2.0. So it barely goes above 2.0 for the return, and it spends most of the year in the high-1's. It's down 25% to a 1.82.

Likeliest: I was somewhat alarmed by just how much this show dropped late in the spring, but then I felt that way at this time last year and it only ended up taking a small Plus decline. And getting a break from The Voice early on will help it rebound a bit from the late spring numbers. So it will continue to age pretty gracefully; it's -14% to 2.09.

NCIS: New Orleans
2.08 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
124 1.87 Tuesday 9:00

Timeslot OccupantsNCIS: New Orleans
Avg Orig Avg
1.79 2.08 2.08 1.87

In a Nutshell: The latest NCIS spin-off had rather mediocre retention for the series premiere, managing a 2.5 out of a 2.9 NCIS lead-in. But it held up well post-premiere and became another worthy occupant of the post-NCIS slot. Like NCIS, it had some major slippage in the spring,

Best Case: NCIS is going to bounce back, and this show will simply ride the coattails, with maybe even a little extra interest tacked on due to summer repeat exposure. It's down 3% to a 2.02.

Worst Case: It's true that NCIS will face less of The Voice this fall, but that also means NCIS: NO will face more of it, and that's a very bad thing; remember when it plummeted to a 1.6 against a two-hour Voice early in March? Then NBC will be rolling in with a competing procedural in November. This gets ugly: down 30% to a 1.46.

Likeliest: Historically the NCIS duo has stayed very closely tied together in terms of year-to-year declines, so I'm hesitant to venture too far away from my NCIS pick here. But the competition dynamics favor NCIS and hurt NO, and New Orleans' late spring declines were even more alarming than the mothership's. So I'm taking this one down 18% to a 1.70.

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