Tuesday, May 1, 2018

2018 Upfront Renewology: Fox

Welcome to Upfront Renewology! This is the SHOW-centric half of the upfront preview, digging into the merits of individual shows by network. The next round will be Upfront Questions, the SCHEDULE-centric look ahead to upfront week. The following week, the schedules come out, and with them come the Upfront Answers.

Averages up to date through Sunday, April 29 (using prelims for Sunday).

More Upfront Renewology: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | CW

The Favorites
Lethal Weapon90%
The Resident78%
Brooklyn Nine-Nine73%0.970.960.871954%55%

I wasn't even planning on putting Lethal Weapon on here, but reports surrounding Clayne Crawford's behavior have left it in much more uncertain territory than the ratings warrant. You can make the argument that it has underwhelmed a bit in the move to Tuesday, but losing this show (or even having it come back in diminished fashion without Crawford) would definitely be a tough break for the Fox schedule. It'd probably throw Tuesday night into yet another total revamp.

After hitting a couple 0.8's in the mid-section of its run, The Resident has peeled off an impressive string of 0.9's. Given the stuff it's competing with in the below tier, that should be good enough to return, but I'm hesitant to say anything is a lock with such big changes ahead at Fox.

Then there is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one of the roller coaster stories of the season. The Sunday episodes have just looked like a different show entirely, and I guess there is a compatibility here that is beyond what the True formula is able to capture. What has not gotten enough mention, though, is that it was quietly worming its way back into contention even late in the fall. I mean, this show was getting 0.6's in the early fall when pretty much every other hour on the weeknight schedule was still around 1.0. It was a clear weak link on the network. But by the late fall, it had gotten back to 0.7's, suddenly within a tenth or so of stuff like Gotham, Lucifer and The Gifted. Renewology had it back up in the 40's even at the very end of the fall. So even if you don't really give it any credit for the growth on Sunday, it still achieved something just to get that Sunday berth over Ghosted in the first place. If they liked it enough to put it on Sunday at 8:30, they probably ought to like the Sunday ratings enough to renew.

The Big Bubble
LA to Vegas55%0.890.890.871441%49%
The Gifted50%0.870.910.901339%51%
The X-Files44%0.890.870.901033%47%
The Mick42%0.810.830.872045%49%

Last year, Renewology was wayyy too kind to the Fox shows. Unlike with NBC, there were real reasons to think this was a problem with the model itself, so I made a big adjustment. It will be interesting to see if it was an over-correction, because all these not-that-bad rated shows are right on the borderline. If five of these seven pull through, along with everything in the above tier, it was probably too much. However, given the upcoming Disney acquisition, I'm OK with the message that there's a lot of uncertainty around Fox this year. It may not have much direct impact on this upfront since the deal won't clear in time for 2018-19, but don't be surprised to see some weirdness in anticipation of the bigger changes ahead.

LA to Vegas / The Mick: If you flipped their timeslots, their R% would probably flip, because LA to Vegas gets what might be a little too much benefit from skewing so much younger than its Lethal Weapon lead-in. (The Mick benefited from the same phenomenon in the fall.) Anyway, 0.6-0.7 is really not much to write home about in what is a pretty easy 9/8c hour since the end of This Is Us. I wouldn't have a problem moving on from these shows entirely, as they are not strong in their own rights and don't particularly fit in with anything else on the schedule. But I have a sneaking feeling Fox might be in the market for short-term spackle that bridges the gap to whatever New Fox is in 2019-20.

Lucifer / Gotham: Similarly, both of these shows are right on the R% borderline, and the acquisition of Thursday Night Football takes up some of the real estate they may have been angling for. It also doesn't help that The Gifted is in the clubhouse with a renewal, despite it falling into similarly shaky territory by the end. But I would guess one or both of these pull through and end up on Friday. I would've thought coming into the season that Lucifer was the no-brainer, to get into syndication territory. But it's been just as weak as Gotham ratings-wise, and Gotham seemingly keeps getting more favorable prognoses on the reporters' bubble watches...

The X-Files / Ghosted: The legendary sci-fi drama and its comedy rip-off were not much weaker than the other shows in this tier. But with Gillian Anderson not coming back to X, there is really nothing that compels it to return at this level. And Ghosted losing out on the Sunday spring berth tells you all you need to know about how Fox feels there.

The Trailers
The Last Man on Earth32%0.810.800.871752%58%
The Exorcist2%0.520.520.901041%46%

With mostly 0.6's after Family Guy in the spring, The Last Man on Earth seems to have separated a bit behind the other bubble stuff. It has had a funny trajectory in Renewology because it got a much bigger boost than True expected from the NFL playoff nights. So it went 47% -> 61% -> 75% when the NFL eps went into the rolling average, and then 60% -> 48% -> 30% when they came out. The current version of Last Man is not really any weaker than the one that was just above 50% in Renewology early in the fall; the problem is that the Fox targets have gone up almost an entire tenth since then. This has happened on almost every network, in tandem with how the league average projections have gone up so much. If Fox were a dumpster fire and the league average were headed for a 1.00ish, maybe there would be a strong case for Last Man at this level. But as we stand now, it's one of the weakest shows on the network.

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