Monday, October 15, 2018

Renewology Week 3: A Million Little Things, FBI vs. Magnum P.I. vs. God Friended Me, CW's Opening Week

Here's a look at the big Renewology developments in week three.

The ABC Bubble
A Million Little Things73%0.820.730.61328%33%
Single Parents65%0.810.720.64335%38%
Fresh Off the Boat25%0.580.550.64225%42%

In the back-and-forth between ABC's two Wednesday newbies, A Million Little Things reclaimed the lead as it held steady in week three. Looking at the early DVR numbers, this does not look like last year's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World situation; that was a show that got a lot of credit in the True formula for airing at 10:00, but the DVR numbers weren't really suggesting a huge audience that was missed out in Live+SD numbers. AMLT gets the same kind of credit, but it deserves it: week two was up a whooping 135% from Live+SD (0.82) to Live+7 (1.93). It actually had a higher Live+7 rating than The Goldbergs (1.85) on the same night, despite losing to it by over five tenths in Live+SD!! So it's looking like a Designated Survivor-esque DVR gainer here. That's supposed to be a compliment, but we saw how things turned out for Designated, so AMLT is not out of the woods yet. It needs to avoid totally bombing out in Live+SD, and it's not that far away from doing so. But it's favored for now.

The other big thing going on with ABC is that its targets have absolutely cratered in the first two weeks. As of week three, the drama target is 0.05 below the preseason projection, and the comedy one is nearly an entire tenth below at 0.08. That's not a huge surprise based on how awful the network looked in the first two weeks; it averaged an 82 Plus, down from 94 through two weeks last year. Some of that is on the scripted shows, but the unscripted shows also have some bearing on the targets, and airing six fractional hours of Dancing with the Stars in week two was no help at all. Perhaps we're a little too down on them at this moment (ABC had a few better performances in week 3), but there's no question ABC is underperforming in general, and if it continues that will probably culminate with them renewing some really weak stuff in May. For what it's worth, if we were still using the preseason targets, Single Parents would be at 49% instead of the current 65%, and the TGIF duds would be in dark red rather than hanging on with light red.

CBS New Dramas
Magnum P.I.68%0.810.750.68319%47%
God Friended Me57%0.840.700.68216%44%

The CBS drama newbie situation took a rather interesting turn in week three, as FBI dropped nearly two full tenths (1.19 -> 1.00 in prelims) while Magnum P.I. held onto a 0.9 despite the Happy Together lead-in falling to 0.9. I think it is difficult to make the case that these are meaningfully different performances. I would still give FBI the edge just because it looked so much better the first two weeks (especially week two), but this week definitely complicated the narrative that was forming. God Friended Me last Sunday had a higher True than either of them, but it rates lower in R% since that was a week two rather than a week three. I'm still doubtful they will all get renewed for season two in the end, and that's what Renewology is saying as well (the R% add up to 1.97 total renewals). But if all three stay true to the current form, I would have trouble saying goodbye to any of them without an episode extension. It's looking pretty murky right now.

The CW Bubble-ish
Black Lightning86%0.350.310.24144%50%
All American14%

On the CW, where the network renews so many things but the ratings landscape is sooo low in general, you have to hit a really specific sweet spot for the formula to think there is much uncertainty in your fate. Dynasty was the only show that kind of did that for now, but it could swing very quickly. (If it had been just a couple hundredths higher in the un-rounded prelims, it'd have been over 50%.) The question with Dynasty, and maybe with the upcoming Charmed reboot, is whether we should have an even bigger discrepancy than usual between the WB and CBS studio targets. The CBS studio is losing two of its veterans, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, so you can make the argument they will have to auto-renew everything just to maintain a presence on the network.

All American is a textbook example of my old adage that if you premiere on the bubble, you're probably dead. The CDub may well renew something (even from the WB studio) that's performing at the end of the season like All American did this week. But when you start at that point on series premiere night, it's very unlikely you will stay there. It's possible All American started so low that it's basically a test pattern and everybody will keep coming back; the repeat doing basically the same number on Thursday is some decent supporting evidence there. But even Life Sentence went from a high 0.2 to a high 0.1 during its Wednesday run, so I can't say I'm optimistic.

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