Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Best Case/Worst Case: American Crime, Mike & Molly, American Idol

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

American Crime
1.16 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
69 1.30 Thursday 10:00

Timeslot OccupantsNashville
Avg Orig Avg
1.17 1.03 1.03 0.99

In a Nutshell: ABC's limited series from John Ridley saw considerable critical acclaim and got a cushy pairing with Scandal in the spring, but the incompatiblity quickly became obvious as Crime soon became a very poor retainer of the Scandal audience. But it scored a surprise season two renewal, and the show got nominated in the limited series category at the Emmys and Golden Globes (with supporting actress Regina King winning an Emmy). Season two heads to Wednesday, where it will fill the Nashville hiatus.

Best Case: Anthology series essentially get to hit the reset button, which is good news for something that had a lot of ratings trouble last year. Season two is set around a school basketball team, which might be a little more mass-appealing? All the awards attention helps a little bit. It's able to hold onto its late-season 1.0 and just about break even in Plus. 1.02.

Worst Case: This show had a really good lead-in last year and did nothing with it. Black-ish will be at least a little lower-rated than spring Scandal, and it's hard to see why it would be any more compatible. Throw in the fact that it's a limited series and it's surely opening on a new low, soon dipping from there. 0.60.

Likeliest: The reviews suggest season two is mostly more of the same: a very well-made piece of work that has little interest in being entertaining. This is not going to be pretty. It was much weaker than Nashville last year, and it will continue to be weaker even now, which is really saying something. It drops below Nashville's 0.8 low in the second half of the season. 0.80.

Mike and Molly
1.95 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
116 1.93 Monday 8:30
y2y:-10% +1%

Timeslot OccupantsSurvivor Fall
Avg Orig Avg
2.15 2.15 2.14 2.12

In a Nutshell: Mike and Molly was a strong new sitcom at the peak of CBS' comedy powers at the beginning of the decade, but it never made the leap to big-time anchor. Starting in season four, CBS has been holding it off of the early fall schedule, but it showed up before the end of the calendar year in 2013 and 2014. It just barely missed out on a 2015 return this time, joining 2 Broke Girls (with which it paired successfully last season) to fill the Survivor hiatus on Wednesday. In December, it was announced that season six will be the last.

Best Case: This show really had a good year last season, growing in A18-49+ even as CBS was in the process of deprioritizing Monday comedy. This year, at least for this Wednesday run, it's getting to air in what is typically the strongest time of year for CBS series. It takes another league average decline... but when comparing it just to last year's January/February episodes, that means even in raw numbers. 1.95.

Worst Case: The CBS comedies usually avoid facing comedy competition, but Mike and Molly will get a legit opponent in The Goldbergs. Throw in early season American Idol and an NBC crime drama that skews toward the CBS crowd, and it's a surprisingly tough competitive spot. CBS' previous attempts to crack the Wednesday comedy code have not gone well, and Mike and Molly drops almost as much as The New Adventures of Old Christine did in the Monday -> Wednesday move. 1.25.

Likeliest: History says that trying to create a comedy beachhead on a new night is tough. But this is a good time of year for CBS, and this is a stronger show than the likes of Old Christine. It'll be able to put together the same kind of rating that similar-strength 2 Broke Girls and Mom have seen on Thursday lately. 1.65, and 2 Broke Girls rates in the same vicinity at 8:00. (This prediction is just for the six episodes currently scheduled on Wednesday at 8:30.)

American Idol
2.05 A18-49+True2014-15 Slot
122 2.34 Wednesday 8:00
y2y:-23% -14%

Timeslot OccupantsRosewood
Avg Orig Avg
1.68 1.63 1.63 1.65

In a Nutshell: American Idol was the defining show on television in the aughts, growing from summer smash in 2002 all the way to a six-year period across which it averaged over three times the big four's entertainment average. The 2010s have been a much different story for Idol, as 2015 marked the fourth consecutive 20%+ decline for the series. The struggles really picked up after Wednesday companion Empire wrapped, as Idol failed to crack a 2.0 in its last two months. With Idol now less than half the show it used to be, Fox has announced this as the final season. The above is mostly the Wednesday average, but it averaged a 2.13 combining Wednesday and Thursday.

Best Case: American Idol is coming off of its smallest decline in four years, and a final season announcement for something this iconic will bring back legitimate pop culture interest (as well as legitimate guest star juice). It premieres around 3.0 and is able to stay above 2.0 pretty much the whole way; the second half of the season holds up a lot better since the series end is near and it's wrapping early in April. 2.40.

Worst Case: Last year's slowed declines were a major illusion, mostly caused by airing alongside Empire. It won't air with Empire a single time this season, leading to the biggest decline in Idol history. The comparisons with those 3.0+ Empire-boosted episodes from early last season will be downright laughable, and the very low-1's as the end approaches will just be sad. 1.33, down 35%.

Likeliest: I think the final season hype will help this show somewhat... but if the ratings could be meaningfully reinvigorated, it'd have happened by now. Even if it does help, a lot of that will be cancelled out by the boost this show got from airing with Empire last year. It should be at 2.0+ early in the season and maybe at the very end, but there will be a long stretch of 1's in the middle. There are a lot of moving parts with this prediction, but I'll give it another slowed decline to 1.83 (combining Wednesday and Thursday airings). The y2y trend will look somewhat artificially decent since the season is ending early in April.

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