Monday, October 2, 2017

Premiere Friday Renewology: Inhumans and The Exorcist

Here are a few quick thoughts on what Premiere Friday 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.

Bug Fixes

A quick note: after several days of observing low-ish True ratings for 10:00 shows, early on Friday I discovered a bug with the True formula's adjustment to viewing levels. This is one of the things that the new version of True calculates for every season individually in the A18-49+ era, but it was not reading in what it was supposed to be for the 2017-18 numbers so it wasn't making that adjustment at all. The net effect of fixing this is that the Monday thru Wednesday 10:00 shows will pick up about a tenth in True, 9:00 shows about 0.05ish, and 8:00 shows will be close to unchanged. Not a huge difference, but a lot of shows in the marginal territory where every tenth really matters may pick up 10 points or more in R%. I thought about fixing this for only the True scores starting with Thursday, but it's gonna cause even more headaches for Renewology going forward to leave a bunch of deflated True numbers intact. So I've modified the full tables and Vaults on those first three days. This was fixed before the Thursday numbers came out, so it's only three days being "retconned." Hope you will forgive me, and I reeeally hope this will not be required again.


Inhumans opened on Friday with another one of those "not quite sure what to say about it" premiere ratings. 0.9 is fine for a Friday, and even if it takes a fairly typical post premiere drop you're looking at a 0.6-0.7, which is still on the edge of what we could call "solid for Friday" territory historically (though we've become spoiled by the previous occupants Last Man Standing and Shark Tank in recent years). I'd probably go a little lower than this, because I'm not that optimistic it can take a typical or better post-premiere drop. But it didn't put itself out of the mix just yet. ABC will probably have uglier premieres than this as we go forward.

The Exorcist10%0.660.600.83138%

Even by Fox standards, it was a truly woeful return for The Exorcist on Premiere Friday. I'm not that comfortable saying anything is only 10% at this stage. But it does raise an interesting larger question: should we look more favorably on a show's prospects when a network has already made a reach renewal for it in the past? The idea would be that Exorcist was renewed because it was a streaming and/or international goldmine, and it's a win for the network even if it does nothing in the ratings realm.

The answer, as always, is it depends. There are clearly shows in the CBS syndication factory like The Good Wife, Madam Secretary and Elementary for which the network has a long-documented history of making ratings reaches over and over again. But there are also plenty of shows like Galavant and Scream Queens which were one-time reaches, and promptly cancelled after they bombed again in season two. Maybe there's a way to quantify being a little more gun-shy with these scenarios, but it's also doing a disservice to say it's a toss up or the ratings analysis doesn't matter at all just because of one miss.

I'm more inclined to put Exorcist in the latter category, and think it is correct to list it as an underdog for now. 10% is a bit overboard for my liking, but definitely sub-50. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but if they couldn't make it work with a social-friendly Ryan Murphy show like Scream Queens, I'm skeptical this one can defy the ratings math either. I just think Fox liked Exorcist the best out of a bunch of really bad options at the bottom of the Fox bubble and took a flier. For now, it's not working out ratings-wise.

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