Monday, January 7, 2019

Renewology Week 15: The Orville Collapses and The Blacklist Returns

Happy 2019! I have always believed that on a daily ratings basis, midseason is more interesting than fall, simply because there are more developments staggered across the calendar. The fall eventually devolves into the same old lineups airing over and over again. So I'm hoping that midseason will also prove more conducive to a weekly "column" of sorts; toward the second half of the fall, I eventually got tired of writing about the same few bubble shows (mostly ABC comedies and CBS dramas) every single week. Here goes.

The Orville8%0.660.620.89232%

One of the biggest True formula/Renewology derps of the year to date is having The Orville as a 72% favorite with its post-NFL preview, then dropping all the way to 8% (!) for its Thursday premiere. There are some technical reasons that could explain some of this; for one, it might be a good idea to somehow ignore upward adjustments that are due to a second post-football airing on the West Coast.

But I still thought the show did pretty well on Sunday, probably at least as well as The Simpsons would have in the same spot over the holidays with one of the weakest The OT lead-ins of the year. That should've translated to a 0.8ish for its first Thursday, in my mind. Even that would've produced a huge drop in R%, but it wouldn't have looked quite so jarring.

So is it fair to say the relatively highly promoted show is this completely dead? I am almost never 92% sure of anything getting cancelled, and even with the 0.6 this show would literally be on the bubble if it had the ABC drama targets. So this number is largely a result of just how huge the Fox targets are. I expected before the season that Fox would act harshly within whatever their ratings universe happened to be, and their ratings universe has happened to be remarkably strong. On any other network, I would take more of a wait-and-see approach, but on New Fox this is a really deep ditch to crawl out of. Even the 0.8 I was expecting would likely not be enough, but it'd help. The 0.6 seems like a non-starter.

The Blacklist49%0.740.700.71224%

Another returning drama got to air in two very different timeslots over the last week, and these had a little more logical consistency at least according to the True formula. It thought The Blacklist's 0.6 on Friday with a repeat lead-in was weaker than the 0.9 on Thursday at 10/9c after The Titan Games, but it's not much weaker than you would expect out of a typical post-premiere drop. Both performances seem fairly consistent with a bubble show on NBC, where the drama standards are high but nowhere near the Fox level.

Whether it can stay on that level is to be determined, and whether it can get rescued by non-ratings factors is also to be determined; even if it drops, it may be this year's version of 2017-18 Blindspot. (R% had that show in the light red all of last year, but it survived.) For now, the early returns look a little better than the vast majority of what we saw from Blindspot last year, and a good bit better than the 0.4's and 0.5's from Blindspot at 8/7c this year.

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