Monday, October 29, 2018

Renewology Week 5: The Rookie vs. A Million Little Things, All American vs. Legacies

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

The Low-End ABC Dramas
How to Get Away with Murder88%0.770.770.60532%27%
Station 1986%0.780.770.60425%31%
A Million Little Things82%0.800.750.60529%31%
The Rookie71%0.860.690.60223%39%

I've seen some people trying to decide which one of the two drama newbies A Million Little Things and The Rookie ABC should renew; I even tried to get a little clickbaity by putting them "vs." each other in the headline. But for now, the more genuinely uncertain question is not which of the two stays, but whether they both stay. Adding their two R%'s together gets you 1.53 total renewals, or right on the borderline between one renewal and two. There's no reason to try to be pushing one out, at least not yet.

There's an interesting psychological trick going on with these two dramas that is worth pointing out. Maybe people assume they must be in trouble because they're at the low end of the drama totem pole. The only dramas kind of in the same class are the last two hours of TGIT. But the TGIT shows aren't exactly bombing out; the real reason the newbies are at the low end of the totem pole is that ABC sawed off what would usually be the bottom section of that totem pole. This year, they don't have a slew of drama flops like Ten Days in the Valley, Once Upon a Time, Inhumans, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World and even Designated Survivor to get compared with. At this time a year before that, ABC had Notorious, Conviction, Secrets and Lies and a teetering Quantico. Both The Rookie and AMLT are looking stronger than any of those shows, but the network intentionally gave a lot of that real estate over to comedies and unscripted. It was a big change in direction, but the grass hasn't exactly been greener; if these shows are competing for real estate with the likes of Child Support and The Alec Baldwin Show, it's time to expand dramas!

So I almost think that when you look at these shows, you have to plug in some "phantom flops" below them to represent where the drama department will end up later in the season. It is unlikely that they will be at the bottom of the barrel when For the People and the many midseason newbies show up. If they are, we will certainly re-evaluate.

Separation Tuesday
The Kids Are Alright51%0.800.640.64228%35%
Splitting Up Together34%0.610.580.64233%31%

I expected some separation with the ABC Tuesday comedies, but I didn't expect quite this much in week two! Black-ish held up well in week two in the face of its surrounding programs both dropping multiple tenths, and it got boosted to the edge of dark green territory, while Splitting Up Together took a major blow and went straight into the light red.* Thanks to holiday programming this week, we'll have to wait another week to see what develops with Fresh Off the Boat and Speechless, but the last data point for all these shows made Splitting look like the weakest comedy on the network. The one that didn't separate was The Kids Are Alright; it stayed remarkably close to the bubble track in week two. Still need to see more there.

* - Quick wonky note here: there were apparently preemptions for ABC Tuesday's first week in the 9:00 hour, because Black-ish adjusted down 0.07 and Splitting down 0.08. Splitting got a 0.95 in the "guessed final" used for the True formula, but the actual final was 0.87. Had we used 0.87 instead of 0.95, Splitting would've been in the 50's R%-wise, and the week two drop would've still been somewhat jarring but not quite so much.

The CW Newbies
All American32%

There was finally some excitement for the CW's newbie class, as All American pulled off a week three uptick while Legacies opened with an underwhelming 0.3 leading out of a bizarrely weak Supernatural. I'm really glad to be using un-roundeds rather than roundeds here, because Renewology would have really overreacted to AA getting a 0.3 when it was actually a 0.255 un-rounded prelim. But All American still put itself somewhat back in the discussion by staying very close to what we perceive to be the bubble (though it's still considered unlikely it will stay there long term). With a high 0.3 and a weaker lead-in, Legacies got a much higher True score, but since it's week one it's expected to drop a lot and end up a bit below the bubble.

This is sort of the reverse of my discussion with the CBS dramas last week; just because they're both under 50% doesn't mean they will both be cancelled. It is saying that "neither renewed" is more likely than "both renewed," but the combined 0.73 R% means that one renewed is more likely than neither. Neither one looks good, but odds are one will eventually figure out a way to sneak through. Maybe Legacies was just airing on a weirdly low night in general and it will hold up great, or maybe the CDub decides they want All American to become their version of Friday Night Lights.

CBS Comedy Newbies
The Neighborhood89%1.020.940.74422%42%
Murphy Brown46%0.720.720.74518%38%
Happy Together31%0.720.670.74424%41%

After holding up admirably in weeks two and three, Murphy Brown has quietly had a pretty bad weeks four and five, and now it's basically back where it started in premiere week R%-wise. True still thinks it has been a little stronger episode-by-episode than Happy Together (the DVR numbers really bear that out), but it's definitely on shaky ground at this point.

Speaking of Happy Together, it's held up pretty well post-premiere and tried to keep itself on the edge of the conversation. I don't think it's gonna be enough; the DVR numbers are horrible, and the network has so many comedy reserves this season that they have to be itching for spots to open up. But if the reserve situation were different, it could've gotten a short extension like 9JKL. Remember, CBS Monday is about to start getting compared against the rough 9JKL / Superior Donuts / Me, Myself and I lineup from a year ago. I'm not saying being even in raw numbers with that lineup is much of an accomplishment, but it's at least been enough for Happy Together to stave off a quick hook.

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