Thursday, October 8, 2015

Best Case/Worst Case: The Vampire Diaries, The Originals

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

The Vampire Diaries
0.73 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
43 0.82 Thursday 8:00
y2y:-29% -20%

Timeslot OccupantsThe Vampire Diaries
Avg Orig Avg
0.57 0.73 0.73 0.82

In a Nutshell: The CW's big launch of TVD in fall 2009 had real long-term legs, impressively holding a Plus in the 54-60 range for five years. But season six looks like it will go down as the beginning of the end, not breaking 1.0 once and dropping 20% in Plus as it had to face Grey's Anatomy for the first time. Season seven brings another major obstacle: the departure of leading lady Nina Dobrev, whose last episode was the season finale in May.

Best Case: The real beginning of the end for TVD was not actually last season; it was the second half of season five, when it had the epic collapse from 1.3's in the fall to 0.7's in the spring. It actually didn't drop as sharply across last season, and the year-to-year trends were improved for much of the second half. No Dobrev forces the writers to get more creative, and it hangs in the 0.6 to 0.7 range for pretty much the whole season. 0.68, down just 7%.

Worst Case: The soul of the show is gone. If it could go -29% last year with Dobrev, it can surely do even worse without her, and with more genre competition from NBC's Heroes Reborn. A very ugly -40% to a 0.44. Probably still not truly cancel-worthy on the CW totem pole, but the trend is bad enough that it's dunzo.

Likeliest: It's not gonna be pretty, but I have trouble pulling the trigger on a bigger drop than last year, since the -29% was largely set up by the huge collapse during season five. So... -25% to 0.55. This will be yet another interesting decision, but my guess is that the two vampire shows somehow get no more than one fall weeknight slot combined, maybe with reduced orders for one/both (and an announced final season for TVD, if not both).

The Originals
0.58 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
34 0.64 Monday 8:00
y2y:-35% -27%

Timeslot OccupantsReign
Avg Orig Avg
0.35 0.39 0.38 0.47

In a Nutshell: The spin-off of The Vampire Diaries had a very successful opening season in 2013-14, especially in the first few months, but a TVD-esque collapse late in the season set it up for a very bad year-to-year trend as it headed to Monday. Though it was a big timeslot improvement on the network's oft-challenged Monday, the vampire shows' poor trends led the CDub to consolidate them on one night for this season.

Best Case: This show was within 0.15 of TVD's ratings on Monday with a ton of competition and a local programming lead-in. Put it in a more compatible situation right after TVD and it might just match that show... or could it even increase, if the post-Dobrev rejection is that huge? Even at 0.58.

Worst Case: The rejection of The Vampire Diaries will be so substantial that, in spite of the compatibility, it is a worse lead-in than local programming was. If it could drop 35% after local programming, it can drop more after a toxic TVD. Down 42% to a barely-better-than-Reign 0.34. Probably still renewed, but it's into test-of-the-syndication-dogma territory.

Likeliest: A tenth below TVD seems about right for the most part. Down 22% to 0.45. Again, I think it gets renewed, maybe for an announced final season, but the network will do something creative scheduling-wise rather than give them a whole weeknight again.

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