Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Best Case/Worst Case: The Real O'Neals

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

The Real O'Neals (NEW!)

Timeslot OccupantsFresh Off the Boat The Muppets
Avg Orig Avg
1.17 1.31 1.51 1.40 0.83 0.74

In a Nutshell: With The Muppets flaming out on Tuesday, ABC is going back to family comedy basics in its timeslot with the newbie The Real O'Neals. Before it arrives on Tuesday, it will get the same kind of launch as Fresh Off the Boat did last year, airing two preview originals Grover Cleveland-style (non-consecutively at 8:30 and 9:30) as part of the higher-rated Wednesday lineup.

Best Case: Leading off Tuesday is really tough. But Fresh Off the Boat pulled it off seemingly against the odds last year, and its continued beachhead on Tuesday will make things a little easier for The Real O'Neals. This show is right in the tried-and-true ABC comedy wheelhouse, and Martha Plimpton is particularly good. It launches at about the same numbers as FotB did on Wednesday, then regularly grows from Fresh Off the Boat when it moves to Tuesday. It matches FotB's season one raw average of 1.72.

Worst Case: Fresh Off the Boat did/does well on Tuesday because it's... well, fresh. It certainly shouldn't be assumed that any generic comedy can step in and do the same thing. The Real O'Neals also doesn't get a head start on The Voice's return, as Fresh had last year. It's well below 2.0 in tonight's previews, then quickly hits Muppets numbers on Tuesday. That adds up to a 0.90... even counting the Wednesday episodes, it has a slightly lower Plus than last year's cheap-o 8:30 occupant Repeat After Me.

Likeliest: I didn't think Fresh could pull off the Tuesday 8/7c hour last year, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask about this one. But I still feel that's a really tough proposition in general, and that has been on display this year as Fresh Off the Boat itself hasn't been able to put together any heat in season two. However, The Real O'Neals seems like a pretty reliable fit with the ABC comedy brand, so I don't see it bombing. I think it does fairly well tonight (2.0ish) and looks initially decent on Tuesday. But it eventually settles a couple tenths behind FotB's already modest Tuesday ratings, averaging a front-loaded 1.20. That wouldn't be too awful, probably a little better than the 2016 Muppets episodes, but it might get squeezed out due to ABC's considerable comedy depth.

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