Sunday, September 25, 2016

Premiere Sunday Best Case/Worst Case: Son of Zorn and Week 2 premieres!

Best Case/Worst Case lays out possible scenarios for broadcast primetime TV seasons yet to premiere. This year, it will fully cover the new shows, plus a few brief thoughts on some other shows (usually limited to sophomores and on-the-move/particularly interesting veterans). Feel free to add your predictions on what I don't cover. Here's what's premiering tonight. I'm also throwing the week two premieres into this post, since there are surprisingly few week two premieres and even fewer actual interesting ones.

Son of Zorn
Sundays at 8:30 on Fox

Lead-in: The Simpsons (1.74 A18-49, 119 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.55 A18-49, 106 A18-49+)
Cooper Barrett's Guide (1.10 A18-49, 76 A18-49+)
Bob's Burgers (1.03 A18-49, 71 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: Fox's hybrid of animation and live action has already aired a preview, with a 2.4 two weeks ago following a 5.2 from The OT. With a 13-episode order, it should mostly avoid the depths of event season and spring.

Best Case: The 2.4 post-NFL preview was promising, and this is a return to the type of show the animated anchor fans are really looking for. It fully retains or slightly builds from Simpsons when there's no NFL and has great retention even when the NFL is leading in. 1.75 and an easy renew.

Worst Case: It's yet another project from the very imaginative creators of The LEGO Movie and The Last Man on Earth. They try a lot of weird, ambitious stuff, but usually that kind of philosophy means there are going to be misfires. This is a big one, and the post-preview rejection will be massive. It's never breaking 1.0 on non-NFL nights and it may even struggle to do so when the NFL is on. It still does a little better than Mulaney from a couple years ago, but only because it's at 8:30 (and closer to the NFL) rather than 9:30. The good news as far as "worst case" scenarios is that it will be wrapped by the second half of the season, or it could get much worse. 0.90.

Likeliest: The post-NFL preview two weeks ago seemed like a Simpsons-esque point for the show. That could be a good thing, but since it's a series premiere it probably means it'll be a fair amount weaker than Simpsons on a regular basis. I think it settles at 1.0ish without the NFL and low-mid 1's on NFL nights, adding up to a 1.21 from this point forward. Throwing in the 2.4 preview gets it to a 1.30 for the season, right on the league average. It will look a bit weaker than Brooklyn Nine-Nine last fall. Ideally, Fox would wait to see how Making History does later in the season before deciding, but the production demands with animated series may force a quicker decision.

Other Premieres:

Secrets and Lies (1.49 A18-49, 89 A18-49+ in spring 2015): The first season with Ryan Philippe started slowly but showed great resiliency in the following weeks, snatching a renewal with its growth at the end of the season. I always think it's interesting that Philippe gets so much credit for the show's success, since the post-premiere trajectory would suggest it was the content/writing that worked, not people showing up for an actor on the front end. That said, it's been so long that if there was brand loyalty here, it has eroded. And if Philippe was a factor, that's another strike. The best it can probably hope for is to come back with about the same Plus with which it started season one (a 1.1-1.2 in today's terms). Even if it can do that (and I'd go a touch lower), I don't see a second straight post-premiere miracle... instead, it will take more of a typical trajectory, and end up fractional for most of the season. Probably dunzo, but still a tiny improvement on the year-ago Blood and Oil. Likeliest: 0.89.
Quantico (1.23 A18-49, 85 A18-49+ last year): The sophomore thriller will try to recapture its surprising strength from last fall, which petered out into a bunch of 1.0ish results in the spring. I think it can continue to break 1.0 in the fall, and usually builds by a bit on Secrets and Lies. But since it has to air in the second half of the season, its average will fall to S&L levels or lower with the spring results. Likeliest: 0.88.
NCIS: Los Angeles (1.31 A18-49, 90 A18-49+ last year): After a whooping five years following the NCIS mothership, then two more on Monday alongside Scorpion, the first spin-off of NCIS is headed for Sunday between 60 Minutes and Madam Secretary. There's been a lot of chatter about how this show will benefit from NFL exposure (and the average will definitely get an assist from the premiere being bumped up to tonight, for two hours post-NFL). But that only applies to maybe a third of the episodes, and the rest will be saddled between two low-rated and extremely ancient-skewing shows. So I question if it will be much of a net benefit for 18-49 ratings. But I still think it ought to do a bit better than Madam has in this slot, so I'll trust in the NFL and give it a small uptick in Plus from last year. Likeliest: 1.22.
Code Black (Wednesday; 1.26 A18-49, 86 A18-49+ last year): CBS' medical drama started slow last fall, but picked up some heat after the new year and squeaked out a renewal and a return to the Wednesday 10/9c slot. I think it will be up in Plus compared with many of the bad fall results, and close enough to even in the winter/spring that it grows a touch. But renewal will again come down to how the other middling-rated CBS dramas do, and Bull and MacGyver may be more promising than last year's crop. Likeliest: 1.15.
Once Upon a Time (1.37 A18-49, 94 A18-49+ last year)
Bob's Burgers (1.04 A18-49, 71 A18-49+ last year)
The Simpsons (1.74 A18-49, 119 A18-49+ last year)
Family Guy (1.48 A18-49, 102 A18-49+ last year)
The Last Man on Earth (1.16 A18-49, 79 A18-49+ last year)
60 Minutes (1.62 A18-49, 111 A18-49+ last year)
Criminal Minds (Wednesday; 1.79 A18-49, 123 A18-49+ last year)
America's Funniest Home Videos (next Sunday; 1.03 A18-49, 70 A18-49+ last year)
Madam Secretary (next Sunday; 1.20 A18-49, 82 A18-49+ last year)
Elementary (next Sunday; 0.96 A18-49, 66 A18-49+ last year)

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