Thursday, October 1, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case: The Blacklist, Bones, Sleepy Hollow

Best Case/Worst Case lays out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere. Here's what's premiering tonight!

The Blacklist
2.07 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
123 2.11 Mon 10:00, Thu 9:00
y2y:-29% -20%

Timeslot OccupantsBad Judge A to Z The Blacklist
Avg Orig Avg
1.43 1.28 0.94 1.12 0.75 1.02 1.68 1.95

In a Nutshell: The Blacklist was a massive success on Monday after The Voice in season one. It returned to the slot early last fall, then went on a prolonged hiatus to relaunch after the Super Bowl and prop up NBC's Thursday dumpster fire. It had a nice 2.4 to open the Thursday run, basically matching its last few post-Voice efforts, but then the bleeding commenced. It got all the way down to a 1.2 on April 30, just half of its Thursday premiere demo, but then recovered to 1.6 for the finale two weeks later. The above 2.07 average includes a 2.69 for eight Monday episodes and a 1.68 for the 13 on Thursday.

Best Case: One of the craziest things about last season was just how little support The Blacklist received in its move to Thursday. A successful start from Heroes Reborn last Thursday means that (even if it drops a lot post-premiere) The Blacklist is getting a much better situation this time around. It's able to rally to the high-1's it was getting early in the winter, and it pretty much stays there all season long (as NBC also comes up with some good solution for 8/7c in the spring). 1.80.

Worst Case: All you really need to know about this show is that NBC didn't even want it on the schedule for premiere week. With a lot of drama competition, it's only able to settle at low-1's in the fall, below its Heroes lead-in, and it goes 1.0 or lower when the second half of the season brings a return to the awful lead-ins of yesteryear. 1.05.

Likeliest: The growth in the last two weeks was a bit encouraging, and a reasonably reliable lead-in should keep it from getting back into that 1.2 territory for awhile. (I mean, it had a zero point five leading in on the night it got that rating!) It can hang in mid-1's for most of the fall, but the unknown quantity that is the 8/7c occupant in the second half of the season makes those episodes less promising. It adds up to the show being down a little bit in Plus from last season's Thursday average (but pretty close to even if you take out the huge Thursday premiere). 1.44.

1.25 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
74 1.52 Thursday 8:00
y2y:-27% -19%

Timeslot OccupantsBones American Idol Thu
Avg Orig Avg
1.53 1.64 1.27 1.52 2.32 2.42

In a Nutshell: For nearly a decade, you could set your watch to Bones' consistent league average-ish production, but those days seem well past after Bones' brutal 27% drop in season ten.

Best Case: Bones took a big drop a few weeks into the fall run, but it was pretty steady from there (especially given the huge hiatus and the fact that it didn't return till after DST). In fact, you could argue some of its more impressive points came after the end of the regular season, when it got back above 1.0 as a lead-in to Wayward Pines. With the resurrection of a successful drama pairing from two years ago and a less egregious midseason hiatus, Bones is able to hang around that 1.2 mark at 1.20.

Worst Case: Grey's Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory aren't going away, and NBC just got more potent in the 8:00 hour with Heroes. It was -27% last year even though a chunk of the previous season had aired on a Friday, so it can certainly do an even worse trend in this return to the same slot. -30% to a 0.88.

Likeliest: A key question mark here is whether Bones will get to air in more favorable times of year this season. Between American Idol, MasterChef Junior and 2016 runs of Empire and (seemingly) Rosewood, my guess is Bones will be pretty low on the priority list again. So I'm assuming something similar to this season's arrangement and going -16% to a 1.05. Clings to very low-1's through the fall, hits some fractional results in the spring (but may hold up all right since Heroes would be out of the picture). I'm guessing it's cancelled, but who knows...

Sleepy Hollow
1.54 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
92 1.44 Monday 9:00
y2y:-41% -34%

Timeslot OccupantsGracepoint Backstrom
Avg Orig Avg
1.09 1.15 0.84 1.01 1.01 1.12

In a Nutshell: Sleepy Hollow was a surprise breakout in the fall of 2013, opening with a 3.5 on pre-premiere Monday and holding up very well against the arrival of broadcast competition. But season two was a huge disappointment, opening on a new low and eventually falling into the mid- and even low-1's.

Best Case: Sleepy Hollow has killed off a lot of the dead weight and promises a return to what really made the show all along: the dynamic between the two leads. The show was actually markedly more compatible with Bones two years ago than it ever was with Gotham, which skewed a lot more male. It builds on its Bones lead-in just like the good old days at a 1.32, down a very acceptable 15% from last year. Considering how tough the timeslot is, it returns to soak up this space again next year.

Worst Case: So much drama competition. It's got Scandal to take away the young/female audience, The Blacklist to take away the old/male audience, and maybe even The Originals to snatch a few more female genre fans away. It's switching timeslots and it's going to have a much worse lead-in than it pretty much ever had last year. That 1.54 from last year was already very front-loaded, and it was hitting lows in January, which should be a very favorable time of year. We talk about the sophomore slump, but limited series like The Following and Under the Dome don't exactly have a history of stopping the bleeding in season three either. Actually beats last year's -41% drop by going -46% to a 0.84, tying last year's Gracepoint raw numbers.

Likeliest: I'm still a viewer for now, and I hope that some of the changes make the show more season one-esque, but from a Nielsen standpoint I think it's too late for it to matter. I expect it to be an upgrade on last year's Gracepoint, but a bad timeslot change for an already fast-fading limited series still adds up to one of the very ugliest returnee drops on television. 1.00, down another 35%, and that may be all she wrote.

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