Wednesday, May 4, 2016

2016 Upfront Power Rankings: NBC


Welcome to the Upfront Power Rankings! This is the SHOW-centric half of the upfront preview, digging into the merits of individual shows by network. Next week come the Upfront Questions, the SCHEDULE-centric look ahead to upfront week. The following week, the schedules come out, and with them come the Upfront Answers.

The True/A18-49 averages cover the last one-third of aired episodes this season, rounded up, through Monday, May 2.

Other Upfront Power Rankings: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | CW



Comedy

#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Elite (By NBC Comedy Standards)
1Superstore1.31-1%37%39%1.354/11

Superstore was a clear renewal, and a big win given NBC's complete lack of comedy foundation. The True formula wasn't crazy about it since it aired in such a high-viewed time of year, and I think you can also see that in its relatively modest DVR interest. So hopefully it still gets a big push coming off of the seven-month hiatus. For all The Office comparisons it got, there's not much indication that it actually found that show's audience; the skew/gender were pretty middling. So maybe there's even more opportunity here?



#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Pity Party
2Undateable1.03-7%36%40%0.78-45%4/11
3Crowded0.88-6%30%39%0.85
4/10
4The Carmichael Show0.80-16%29%40%0.90+2%3/9

If one of these can survive to next year, I'm picking Undateable. 0.8 on Friday in the fall is better than very low 1's leading out of Little Big Shots, and the True formula agrees. Unfortunately, Variety labeled it "dead" last week, and it seemed pretty clear even before that when an NBC exec said the live format failed.* That kind of language is very rarely seen with a renewal in the hopper. Whatever gets renewed or axed from this bunch (and I guess the likeliest renewal is well-reviewed The Carmichael Show), we're not talking about a huge loss. All these shows are decisively below all the renewed NBC dramas. It's getting a low-priority placement either way, maybe the bottom of an hour on a midseason Sunday. It certainly wouldn't be a reach for NBC to just go with Superstore and a bunch of newbies instead.

*- If anybody remembers seeing this quote and has the article it came from, let me know and I'll link it here. Couldn't find it. Thanks theratingsjunkie for finding this link!



#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Dunzo
5Truth Be Told0.78-15%35%39%0.524/10
6Telenovela0.69-9%35%41%0.824/11

Worth noting that if True brought Superstore down to earth for airing on Monday in the winter, it also brought Telenovela totally out of orbit. Its raw numbers are actually pretty competitive with the above tier, but True takes it into megabomb territory. So I'd be surprised to see it come back.



Drama

#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Wolf Pack
1Law and Order: SVU1.63-2%30%38%1.60+2%6/18
2Chicago Fire1.55-4%28%37%1.66-4%7/20
3Chicago PD1.54+7%29%38%1.60+0%6/18

These three extremely healthy shows are among the biggest reasons why NBC is gaining ground on the rest of broadcast. I don't see any reason to move any of them. Chicago PD is going to drop a bit from the above average when its last crossover result drops out of the rolling average in a couple weeks, so I see it being a bit more clearly weaker than SVU and Fire. But it's still worthy of the top tier.



#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Drama Depth
4The Blacklist1.39-6%27%45%1.30-31%7/20
5Chicago Med1.37-7%28%35%1.64
5/15
6Shades of Blue1.27+7%26%40%1.02
5/13
7Blindspot1.19-27%34%41%1.40
7/20
8Grimm1.17+6%29%42%0.89-23%7/19

One of the keys to watch at NBC's schedule release is what they do with the third hour on Tuesday. Chicago Med is not a favorite of the True formula, thanks to a Voice lead-in and a high-viewed hour with not that much competition, but it's still been an absolutely massive timeslot improvement, and that's a huge part of NBC's success this season. So will they keep the band together with Chicago Med, try boosting the promising Superstore, or even something else? Might be a bit harsh to put it this way, but I'd actually say Med falls close to the good-not-great category, where sticking with what works (leaving it on Tuesday) is usually the best/likeliest call.

What seems less dramatic is the Monday decision: whether Blindspot will be on the move. After a Revolution-esque collapse across the hiatus from fall to spring, it definitely should be. It's not gotten quite to the point where I'd call it a "bad" renewal, but it has gotten to the point where NBC is basically crossing its fingers that it can just be a respectable occupant in season two like Revolution was, rather than a Smash-esque debacle. Joining The Blacklist on Thursday seems like a no-brainer, where Blindspot could end up getting a more direct comparison with Shades of Blue. Following a long run of 1.0's with Blacklist repeat lead-ins, Shades actually looks like the stronger show of the two right now.



#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Bubble
9The Mysteries of Laura1.15-4%20%35%1.12-15%6/16

From the ratings analysis perspective, would've been interesting if Heartbeat had held onto the 0.9 from its first couple weeks. At that point it'd be very close to Laura territory in True, and accounting for the overall viewing drop due to DST would actually matter. But at a 0.7, you can't make that argument. I think it's safe to put it in The Dunzo.

So that leaves The Mysteries of Laura as the only bubble drama. If you're comparing it to the likes of Undateable, Carmichael and Crowded, it wins that race. The closer comparison might have actually been with Heroes Reborn, since that show stood out more in the demographics with its young male skew. However, after you bake in the limited series factor with Heroes, and Laura's relative stability, I think Laura projects better going forward. So Laura is at the front of the bubble line. It's really just a question of how many shows the network needs, and figuring out the bar for renewal is usually tougher than the shows' relative standings. Would it work on Friday or is there a more cost-effective option?



#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
The Dunzo
10Heroes Reborn1.08-18%37%53%1.024/12
11Heartbeat0.90-19%24%36%0.702/5
12You, Me and the Apocalypse0.85+0%30%43%0.57
4/10
13The Player0.78-17%27%50%0.73
3/9
14Game of Silence0.74-11%27%43%0.65
2/4



Reality

#
NameTrueHeatSkewMale
A18-49
y2yEps
1The Voice Fall2.50-11%33%36%2.88-7%5/13
2The Voice Tue Fall2.45-1%31%37%2.65-8%5/13
3The Voice Spring2.06-22%30%38%2.15-20%4/10
4The Voice Tue Spring1.93-23%28%36%1.83-23%3/9
5Little Big Shots1.84-17%23%41%1.80
3/8
6Dateline Fri1.25+3%27%37%0.99-12%10/30
7Dateline Sun1.23+17%25%42%1.05+5%4/12
8Best Time Ever1.23-13%37%40%1.23
3/8
9Caught on Camera1.07+8%26%42%0.67-11%4/10
10The Biggest Loser1.05+8%39%36%1.03-18%3/8
11Strong1.02-9%33%40%0.75
2/4
12Hollywood Game Night0.89-13%34%40%0.82-20%4/11

This spring will go down as The Voice's first "bad" season ever, even if it's still not on the level of American Idol's epic 2012-2014 collapse. On a nightly basis, people often think it's doing better because they look at the numbers from 52 weeks ago, which means you're always looking at a year-ago number that is a week earlier in the season. (And that matters with a show that always falls so much within a season.) But lining it up by the 53-week comparisons, it's stayed around -20% pretty consistently. It's not panic time yet; after all, it's coming off a fall season that was arguably its best ever. But it definitely raises the stakes for next fall, a season that will add Miley Cyrus and get Summer Olympics promotion.

Another interesting aspect to the NBC upfront will be the plans for Little Big Shots, which remains a significant success on Sunday but not quite the huge hit that seemed possible in its opening weeks. Will it continue on Sunday, where broadcast successes are practically like unicorns nowadays, or will NBC jump at its most concrete way to put a charge into Thursday night? The impulse is to lump this in with the talent shows, which must be scheduled rigidly... but with less of a serialization/competition aspect, I have to wonder if the long-term future is as more of an Undercover Boss-esque utility player that might end up filling multiple roles. (Remember, Boss was rather huge early in its run as well.) So maybe it could do both fall Thursday and midseason Sunday? We'll see. Might be too early to be thinking of it that way.

After another really disappointing season from The Biggest Loser, it's time to give it a rest. Since they'll be adding Celebrity Apprentice back to the portfolio next year, it won't be a major loss. (Though how well Apprentice holds up without the GOP presidential nominee is another issue...)

Hollywood Game Night is in almost exactly the same position as Beyond the Tank on ABC; it proved itself as decent filler in the early winter, but took some bruises when moved to a second timeslot (Sunday 10/9c in this case) with zero fanfare. There's no return slated yet, but I'm assuming it probably shows up somewhere this summer? It'll probably have to make the case again.

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