Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Premiere Tuesday Best Case/Worst Case: Bull, This Is Us 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!

Tuesdays at 9:00 on CBS

Lead-in: NCIS (2.21 A18-49, 152 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
NCIS: New Orleans (1.75 A18-49, 120 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: CBS will give a regular post-NCIS berth to something outside of the official NCIS family for the first time since The Mentalist all the way back in 2008. But with NCIS' Michael Weatherly in the lead role, it's still part of the unofficial NCIS family. Weatherly's "return" to CBS was not exactly as long-awaited as Kevin James'; he left NCIS in last season's finale just four months ago.

Best Case: Season one of The Mentalist was arguably more impressive than anything CBS has aired here since. And this show is keeping close to that formula, with a light tone and a very familiar CBS face playing a super-genius. Not attaching those four iconic letters to the beginning actually gives it a shot at attracting interest outside of the NCIS realm and building on the mothership, as The Mentalist did. It averages a huge 2.15, beating even the peak NCIS seasons in Plus.

Worst Case: What NCIS has done in the last decade-plus shouldn't be taken for granted; it'll be a lot harder than people think for an outside team to get that tone right. And psychological profiling makes for much less interesting television than the more action-oriented subject matter on NCIS. The lead-in helps it do well enough for some kind of extension, but it's clear by the late fall that it's a misfire. It's flipped with New Orleans for the end of the run and doesn't get a season two. 1.05.

Likeliest: This is another pretty safe choice by CBS. I have reservations that this subject matter can really do much better than the NCIS spin-offs. But with Weatherly on board, the NCIS audience should mostly buy in, so the flop potential seems very low. This is one of several shows I think is gonna bump right up against the "hit" label (125 A18-49+). I will say it gets there, barely, posting a similar Plus to the NCIS spin-offs in their freshman seasons. 1.64.

This Is Us
Tuesdays at 9:00 on NBC

Lead-in: The Voice Tue Fall (2.80 A18-49, 192 A18-49+ last year)

Last Year's Timeslot Occupants:
Chicago Med (1.70 A18-49, 117 A18-49+)

In a Nutshell: NBC raised some eyebrows when it jettisoned successful Chicago Med away from Tuesday to make room for dramedy This Is Us. But TIU has become the social media sensation of the off-season, completely blowing out the other new shows in Facebook interest from the moment its first trailer dropped. It will get two weeks after The Voice in the 10/9c hour, then move to 9/8c after a preemption for the Tuesday debate in week three.

Best Case: It's not much like the other things that are succeeding on broadcast, but that can be said of a lot of breakout series before they break out. This show just has that air of something special, and Tuesday has one of broadcast's least competitive 9/8c hours. It certainly can't hurt that Sterling K. Brown just won an Emmy! 2.75.

Worst Case: Social media does not, does not, does not equal ratings. Much like Scream Queens disappointed out of the gate on premiere Tuesday a year ago, a similar fate is coming for this show. It's been a long time since something like this was a substantial hit; usually you're hoping for a decent performer like Parenthood. And this show has a slew of ridiculous twists, sending it off the rails much more quickly. At or just below last year's Scream Queens Plus at a 0.89.

Likeliest: When something catches this much fire in social media this quickly, I'm often curious if the interest is really organic or just some one-off. However, This Is Us has remained an impressive gainer in social media even on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. And it doesn't seem like the type of show that would get tons of out-of-demo interest in social media as Scream Queens seemingly did. So it should have enough interest to start impressively. The early juice helps it get a "hit" label even if it ends up being kinda front-loaded, and I don't think it will be that front-loaded. A strong season two bet. 1.75.

Other Premieres:

Scream Queens (1.10 A18-49, 76 A18-49+ last year): The buzzy freshman scored a renewal despite its rotten late-season ratings, becoming the poster child for Fox's "we don't care about Live+SD ratings anymore" movement. Maybe this will stage a miraculous recovery like some other anthology series (even though this show doesn't quite fall into that category), but I'm not counting on it. Likeliest: 0.73.

NCIS: New Orleans (1.75 A18-49, 120 A18-49+ last year): The third-year NCIS spin-off is headed for 10/9c to give Bull the best possible chance. Moving from 9:00 to 10:00 can't be a good thing, but it has as compatible a lead-in as pretty much anything airing at 10:00 on any night. Enough people will watch the Bull lead-in that New Orleans should be one of TV's top 10:00 shows. Simliar Plus to Person of Interest's first 10/9c season. Likeliest: 1.35.
Agents of SHIELD (1.17 A18-49, 81 A18-49+ last year): The New Orleans vs. Agents of SHIELD duel will rage on into 2016-17, as the Marvel drama is also moving from 9:00 to 10:00. Even without the timeslot downgrade, early year-to-year comparisons are gonna be ugly, because this show was surprisingly healthy last fall (and quite unhealthy in the spring). Likeliest: 0.80.

 NCIS (2.21 A18-49, 152 A18-49+ last year)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.21 A18-49, 83 A18-49+ last year)
New Girl (1.11 A18-49, 76 A18-49+ last year)

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