Thursday, September 22, 2016

Premiere Thursday Best Case/Worst Case: Notorious, Pitch and more!

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!

Thursdays at 9:00 on ABC

Lead-in: Grey's Anatomy (2.22 A18-49, 152 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Scandal (2.05 A18-49, 141 A18-49+)
My Diet is Better Than Yours (0.65 A18-49, 45 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: Kerry Washington's pregnancy means a midseason premiere for Scandal. So new drama Notorious will show up for the fall, briefly inheriting the timeslot between Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. It's an attempt to keep with the Shondaland tone, set behind the scenes of a cable news program.

Best Case: Tonally, it is a fit with the ABC Thursday tradition. And it might actually be a good thing that this show isn't saddled with the TGIT label, because that brand (Grey's Anatomy aside) seems to be on the decline. Fresh blood generates some new audience to the night, keeping it about in line with Scandal's Plus average from last season. 1.82.

Worst Case: ABC thinks this show is so bad that they're actually afraid of it tarnishing the TGIT brand name! The level of disdain the network has for the show is quite striking, and they probably know something. 0.67, and it is quickly flipped with How to Get Away with Murder.

Likeliest: I liked Perabo a lot in Covert Affairs, but she seems kinda miscast in this one. It seems like a good fit, and maybe that'll be enough, but I haven't seen a single promo that makes this show look like anything other than a very poor man's, lower-stakes version of Scandal. ABC seems far from all-in on it; it kinda reminds me of Fox's The Mob Doctor from a few years ago, which was just a placeholder to get them to the new year when they could air The Following, and that turned out spectacularly badly. I expect it will do about what The Family would've done if it had stayed on Thursday after its post-Grey's preview last spring. 1.03 and dunzo.

Thursdays at 9:00 on Fox

Lead-in: Rosewood (1.35 A18-49, 92 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Sleepy Hollow (0.91 A18-49, 63 A18-49+)
American Idol Thu (2.16 A18-49, 149 A18-49+)
American Grit (0.67 A18-49, 46 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: At the upfront, Fox had Bones in this timeslot, but there was apparently a lot of push-back against the network's extremely complacent schedule. So the network has moved up the premiere of one of its buzziest dramas, Pitch, about the first female Major League Baseball player.

Best Case: This is another one of those shows that just might be something special, and can reel in audiences from a lot of different quadrants. It gets a nice de facto lead-in from Grey's Anatomy, since none of that crowd is interested in Notorious, and at least doubles its Rosewood lead-in on a consistent basis. 1.90.

Worst Case: It's the old Friday Night Lights problem; drama fans don't want to watch shows about sports, and sports fans would rather watch actual sports than a fictional treatment. And the perenially low-rated FNL was about football, which was an actual hot commodity; meanwhile, national ratings for Major League Baseball are relatively unhealthy. The female-skewing drama audience has multiple alternatives in this hour. More mega-bombs away for Fox. 0.55.

Likeliest: This might work, but I'm guessing it will have to be more of a "little engine that could" situation rather than an out-of-the-box smash. I think it starts somewhere in the low-1's and settles right around 0.9-1.0, building slightly on Rosewood and pulling ahead of Notorious as the fall progresses. Maybe World Series promotion actually helps in the second half of the fall? This adds up to a 0.95 average... but the standards are gonna be low on Fox, so the buzz may get it over the finish line.

Other Premieres:

Superstore (1.48 A18-49, 102 A18-49+ last year): The self-starting success on Monday last winter will have to establish itself on Thursday before The Big Bang Theory returns to the night in late October. It's had a couple real eyebrow-raising points over the summer, from a strong post-Olympics preview (actually a good bit better than The Voice) to its marathon of 0.8 repeats last week. It may actually get back to high-1's early in the fall. TBBT's return has got to take some kind of toll, but I think it still comes close to last year's raw numbers at a Likeliest: 1.43.
Chicago Med (1.71 A18-49, 117 A18-49+ last year): The True formula said this was the weakest of the three Chicago series, even though the timeslot helped it beat PD and come very close to Fire in raw numbers. That relative weakness may become clearer this season, but "third-strongest Chicago show" can still be a significant success by larger broadcast standards. Though the timeslot hurts, the franchise still seems to be on the rise in general, so it won't be down much at all in Plus. It presumably got a break by getting to face Notorious in the fall. Likeliest: 1.38.

The Blacklist (1.43 A18-49, 98 A18-49+ last year): It's one of the most heavily-DVRed shows on broadcast TV, and moving to 10/9c makes it increasingly difficult for that audience to catch it within the same-day window. However, it has mostly had terrible surroundings since making the move to Thursday, so the Chicago Med lead-in may actually funnel in a little live audience, and keep it close to last year. Likeliest: 1.17.
Grey's Anatomy (2.22 A18-49, 152 A18-49+ last year): Coming off an amazing season from start to finish, Grey's seems poised to be on the Plus upside again at the start of the season. I'll probably regret saying this, but I think it has to cool off at some point, and will be down a bit in Plus beyond the fall. Adds up to just a tiny Plus downtick to Likeliest: 1.93, right on the borderline of the big hit label.

How to Get Away with Murder (1.87 A18-49, 129 A18-49+ last year): Season one of How to Get Away with Murder was one of the biggest new hits of the A18-49+ era, but the limited series curse was real nonetheless in season two. That curse has consistently raged on into season three with other shows, and Murder will also be picking up a (presumably) much inferior lead-in situation. I don't think it will "Truly" drop quite as much as last year, but the Notorious factor is gonna make the raw numbers drop similar. Likeliest: 1.20.
Rosewood (1.35 A18-49, 92 A18-49+ last year): The sophomore procedural got a ton of help from Empire pre-tune in season one, and will move to Thursday alongside Pitch for season two. Its without-Empire episodes last season were a mix of unforgivably bad (the 0.9's in the high-viewed winter) to not-good-but-not-awful-by-Fox-standards (the post-DST results). The reality for Rosewood is probably somewhere in the middle, but the Fox new class is strong enough that this gets the axe. Lethal Weapon probably takes over whatever plan the network had for this show. Likeliest: 0.80.

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