Thursday, November 2, 2017

Renewology: November Sweeps Bubble Watch (Drama Edition)

Let's talk about some bubble shows! Comedies coming tomorrow.

ABC Dramas
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World50%0.780.740.74530%39%
Once Upon a Time45%0.710.720.74429%30%

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World: Put simply, this show has stayed on the bubble in Renewology because the True formula perceives the 10:00 hour to be difficult. I've said before that if you're airing at 10:00 with bad lead-in support (which The Mayor is), it's basically as tough as airing on Friday, and that idea has mostly held up in renewal decisions with 10:00 shows. But many of these 10:00 renewals had big delayed viewing, and Kevin doesn't really seem to be showing up on the lists of top DVRers. So that makes me a little concerned that this could be another The Catch situation; that show aired at 10:00, and thus Renewology liked it, but it never really had the delayed viewing you would expect. I'd probably go cancellation if I had to choose right now, but I don't think it's a strong lean either way just yet.

Once Upon a Time / Inhumans: 0.5's are bad, even on Friday, but they're still a lot better than Ten Days in the Valley! If Once stays at around this strength level, it is probably going to be completely at the mercy of things we are not privy to. (Whereas last year, it held up well enough in the spring that it still had a decent first-run ratings case.)

CBS Dramas
SEAL Team62%0.920.890.84519%48%
Wisdom of the Crowd17%0.710.680.84517%52%

Wisdom of the Crowd: Renewology has been really harsh on this show pretty much from the beginning. The first thing to note is that the Sunday 8:00 hour is tricky in general; it has very high viewing due to the NFL audience but (particularly in the 8:00 half-hour) there's not usually an actual game going on that drives up the competition portion of the formula. There were moments last year when the formula seemed to be getting a little too down on NCIS: LA and Once Upon a Time, but they both recovered in the spring. The other thing is that True considers a football-inflated 60 Minutes to be a really big lead-in because almost all the rating is Live viewers, hanging on after the game is over; let's just say True was not completely stunned when it fell from 1.1 to 0.7 last week. The problem as CBS mulls a back-order is that we have very little sense of what the show will do under "normal" conditions, because it's had NFL help most of the time (including again this Sunday), and the one time recently that it didn't was against the World Series. Not sure I would go sub-20% yet, but it's at least pretty clear CBS agrees that what SEAL Team has done is more impressive, despite the raw numbers being similar. And recent Jeremy Piven allegations don't help.

SEAL Team: All that being said, SEAL is not exactly out of the water in its own right. It's funny that I made this adjustment to Renewology that projects CBS shows to drop less post-premiere, and in that exact year there's a show like SEAL which has continued leaking into the second month of its run. The 1.2 in week three was a pretty promising point, but the 1.05ish of the last two weeks is less secure ground. We'll see what's left after this week's preemption.

Scorpion: Even compared with other 10:00 dramas like NCIS: New Orleans, Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods, Scorpion is looking pretty shaky. And if you consider all hours to be created equal, then it's hard to make a ratings case for Scorpion. But this is a show where the 10:00 favoritism works to Renewology's advantage, as it still has it as a favorite. Still, among the veteran procedurals, this has really been emerging as the weak link. Perhaps that will matter, but there are probably more likely candidates for a "surprise" veteran cancellation like Hawaii Five-0 (losing its lead) and Criminal Minds (a perennial down-to-the-wire decision). And hey, maybe Man with Plan will come to the rescue and lift all Monday boats...?

NBC Dramas
The Blacklist44%0.880.900.93522%46%
The Brave17%0.770.750.93626%42%
Law and Order True Crime12%0.760.720.93630%34%

The Blacklist: This show was a solid renewal favorite in the early weeks when it looked like it could hang onto a 1.0 for awhile, but a drop to 0.8 last Wednesday (combined with the NBC targets inching up) put it below the 50% threshold. Like NCIS: Los Angeles and Blindspot before it, it has become much less of a delayed-viewing gainer by moving from 10:00 to 8:00. So what seems like a pretty reasonable hold in Live+SD is actually masking much sharper declines in its Live+7 audience. If it were doing these numbers still at 10:00, it'd be a nice story and Renewology would be much more on board. Since it's at 8:00, it's in trouble. The fact that NBC threw it at Game 7 of the World Series this week doesn't seem like a big vote of confidence either. (Though it's worth noting Code Black got a similar deal last year and still got renewed.)

Blindspot: I am always in the market for what I consider legit "tests" of the non-ratings rules people come up with, and it looks like Blindspot could be one of those. This is its third full season, so many would have you believe it is guaranteed a fourth. But at least on premiere night, it doesn't look like the show is going to earn its way there with first-run ratings. Maybe it can still end up with about the same Plus as some of the lesser Grimm seasons, but NBC was a lot weaker through Grimm's run. I'm neither a true believer nor an atheist when it comes to these "rules," so 29% is probably way low, but I'm also not on board with the idea that it's a 95% guarantee... especially since it is unowned.

Law and Order True Crime / The Brave: These shows both deserve to be renewal underdogs, and one hopes that NBC can come up with something in its post-Olympics rollout that will prevent them from needing a pity renewal here. But if one pulls through, my vote goes to True Crime. First of all, there's the repeat tea leaves... The Brave's planned premiere Friday repeat was pulled, and True Crime was still getting those Friday 8/7c repeats as late as week four. And the second reason is the show's anthological nature. We often read stories about showrunners "pitching ideas for another season," but this is a situation where that could really be a big difference-maker. A complete revamp is pretty much expected here, and maybe they will have an exceptional idea.

Fox Dramas

Lucifer: I really doubt Lucifer is getting cancelled but the fact that it can't seem to get too far off of the R% bubble is interesting to unpack. It's a real testament to how much of the Fox schedule has gotten shored up this fall. Last year, there were holes everywhere: all of Thursday, The Exorcist, Son of Zorn, Scream Queens. But thanks to The Orville and The Gifted, Thursday has been plugged up without hurting Monday. Ghosted and the Tuesday 9/8c comedy hour are far from standouts but they're much less problematic than Zorn and Scream Queens last year. (OK, Exorcist is still a big hole.) All this means that despite Empire being in fast decline mode, the network's Renewology targets are several hundredths higher now than was projected before the season. Maybe Fox is front-loading all the good stuff and will be full of holes at midseason, but right now they look good. Another thing to keep in mind here is that the formula deliberately expects Fox to be harsher this year, after the network was wayyy harsher than expected last year. Perhaps in the end we will find this was a bit of an overcorrection.

But the bottom line is that as Lucifer looks up and down the current Fox sked, there's very little that it is clearly outrating, even though it's not that much weaker itself. Especially since Lucifer is on a high-viewed night with no drama competition other than the CW. Again, I don't think it will get cancelled, but the Fox landscape has gotten surprisingly deep all of a sudden.

CW Dramas
Jane the Virgin100%0.430.430.24353%25%
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend93%0.330.330.24345%50%

Dynasty / Valor: It is really hard for CBS Studios shows to get to cancellation predicted in Renewology. The fact that Dynasty and Valor are there even right now is an indictment. But as long as they can keep 0.2's while the formula expects them to keep declining, they will likely continue trickling upward and end up above 50%. I guess that's fine, since one of them will probably pull through. Most people think Dynasty is the one due to its streaming deal, and it also seems to be doing better in delayed viewing. But there's no real reason to separate the two in the Live+SD ratings.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend / Jane the Virgin: Another one of the non-ratings "rules" strikes here, where people think Crazy Ex is a renewal lock and Jane in trouble since it's already over the magic episode count threshold or something. 100% is a little ridiculous (though 0.3 for a CBS drama on a Friday is pretty great!) but I am also weirdly confident that Jane is gonna pull through here. Part of why Renewology gets away with being so generous with the CDub is that their cancellations are usually pre-announced. These shows have generated a lot of good buzz for the network and I see them both getting the luxury of pre-announced final seasons.

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