Thursday, September 28, 2017

Premiere Wednesday Renewology: The "Solid," "Fine," "OK" SEAL Team Premiere

Here are a few quick thoughts on what Premiere Wednesday says about the renewal/cancellation landscape. These are based on prelims and I probably will not get around to updating this page with the finals, but I'm trying to anticipate some things that could happen in finals.

SEAL Team81%1.290.990.83120%

An amusing part of series premiere coverage in the media is how we all try to come up with one middling adjective to describe premieres that were not breakouts but not bad. Others went with "OK" and "solid" while my adjective "fine" was probably in the middle connotation-wise. If the choice is between "solid" and "OK," I'd definitely take "solid." It's not as impressive as Bull and MacGyver from last year, but those were really impressive, and I'd probably put it ahead of recent Wednesday premieres like Code Black, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and Stalker (even though those were at 10/9c). Of course there's a lot of uncertainty about where a series premiere's ratings will go in the future, but CBS dramas tend to hold up rather well. The mean projection has SEAL ending up even a little stronger than Scorpion, NCIS: New Orleans and Bull from earlier in the week, which would make it a win for the network and a lock renewal.

Law and Order: SVU89%1.311.190.88132%
Criminal Minds86%
Designated Survivor86%1.080.980.76126%
Chicago PD84%
The Blacklist74%

Everything on Premiere Wednesday opened as a renewal favorite! ...but in the interest of generating drama, I should note there were some shows that were less than mortal locks. Add up all those probabilities and you're probably looking at at least one of these shows getting cancelled by the time May rolls around. So here's a lightning round run through some of the less-than-locks:

Speechless: The sophomore comedy pretty much never had an episode in its entire first season that looked this shaky compared to its surroundings, so that is a bit unsettling. We're not talking cancellation territory right now, but it's not a huge cushion either.

Designated Survivor: Sophomore slumps are the norm for this kind of show, so it's probably gonna get lower than the 86% moving forward. The good news is that Designated is probably more valuable, even in a pure ratings sense, than we can see from Live+SD alone due to the huge DVR audience. My guess is it ends up a fairly modest favorite in Renewology but is bumped higher in ABC's mind due to the other stuff.

Criminal Minds: Minds looked good in its long-awaited move to 10/9c, certainly stronger than the Scorpion/Bull/NCIS: New Orleans club from earlier in the week. It'll probably be a heavy favorite in Renewology, but it has been a late renewal decision in the past presumably in part because of its ABC part-ownership. Is this the year that finally catches up to it, as it did for Last Man Standing last year?

The Blacklist: It's just one episode, but early on it looks like another win for my "8:00 is easier than people think, 10:00 is harder than people think" philosophy. Will be interesting to see how the delayed DVR ratings look. Anyway, a 1.1 premiere is not lock city on NBC. If it falls off a cliff the way Blindspot did after a strong start, look out.

SVU / Chicago PD: Despite the R%, SVU's age makes it less of a lock than PD, but both shows were a bit "meh" out of the gate ratings-wise. SVU declined in Plus despite no Criminal Minds and Empire in the slot, while PD dropped a touch from SVU after building on it for most of the second half of last season. I'm gonna be keeping an eye on whether PD becomes a weaker show with the loss of Sophia Bush, but I really doubt it will be enough to matter.

Star: 98% may be too generous here since there was apparently a crossover element to this episode that could inflate the premiere. If that was really some enormous factor, the formula will obviously be able to adjust for that next week. But I was still impressed. Hard to see it falling so far that it gets cancelled over all the dreck elsewhere on Fox.

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