Monday, July 11, 2016

The Breakdown: NBC Wednesday in 2015-16 (Law & Order: SVU, Chicago PD, The Mysteries of Laura, Heartbeat)

It's time for a journey through the NBC Wednesday schedule in 2015-16...


2014-15The Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD95
2015-16The Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD97 (+3%)
76 (-4%)113 (+5%)103 (+6%)

NBC Wednesday showed some improvement in the fall, even as Fox's giga-hit Empire was on the fall scene for the first time. A not-insignificant part of this was The Mysteries of Laura bouncing back surprisingly well from its low post-DST ratings in season one.


2014-15The Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD82
2015-16The Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD105 (+28%)
76 (+13%)120 (+37%)118 (+29%)

Like the other members of the original big three, things got much brighter on Wednesday in the winter, as these shows didn't have to face Empire. SVU did rather awful in many of its episodes against Empire in winter 2015, but it's still significant that it absolutely blew those numbers out of the water. The shows sandwiching it were also up double digits in the winter, with Laura staying steady at its fall average and not tailing off as it did in season one.


2014-15The Mysteries of LauraLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD78
2015-16HeartbeatLaw and Order: SVUChicago PD81 (+4%)
53 (-10%)95 (+9%)96 (+8%)

The growth slowed back down a lot for NBC Wednesday in the spring as Laura cleared out in favor of the much weaker Heartbeat, and that reduced lead-in juice couldn't have helped the SVU/PD duo. Also, Empire came back into the mix. But the crime dramas were still decidedly on the year-to-year upside.

The Shows

The Mysteries of Laura1.01.111.2-9%76marginal+5%detail
Law and Order: SVU*1.11.612.0-1%111solid+15%detail
Chicago PD1.31.552.0-2%107solid+14%detail

The Mysteries of Laura: Such a weird situation. It was basically a pity renewal as NBC had a terrible season in 2014-15, and then held up a lot better than expected this year... but at the same time it was overachieving, so was the network at large. Even as it had a Grade: B+ season, it was still one of the network's weakest weeknight occupants, and it got the axe. I'm usually skeptical that studio ownership is much more than a tiebreaker factor, but the WB-owned Laura may have been one of those ties that it broke.

Heartbeat: The show that was initially promised a post-Voice perch ended up bombing out in a Wednesday lead-off role. Its demise further strengthened the Laura narrative, but apparently it wasn't enough...

Law and Order: SVU: In most cases, I want to see raw numbers growth to give out the vaunted A grade. But when the league average decline is over 13%, it's that much harder to pull off. It had the best year-to-year trend of any scripted show on broadcast TV, was noticeably up in Plus even when it faced Empire (and didn't face it last year), and was the only show returning from last year that did better than my Best Case prediction. It was SVU's best season in Plus since it moved to Wednesday seven years ago. Grade: A.

Chicago PD: PD had a very similar trend to SVU, but its achievement is a little less impressive because it had the lead-in support from SVU itself, and also a lot less competition. Still a great season, though. It's one of the biggest 10:00 shows on TV and a big part of the NBC comeback in its own right. Grade: A-.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Check back tomorrow for this day's new Schedules Plus! Till then, you can refer to the old version.

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