Monday, February 11, 2019

Renewology Week 20: Man with a Plan, Moving Housewife, Manifest, Murder

Here's a look at the big Renewology developments in week 20. After a couple weeks lacking in premieres, this week had actual developments! Plus, the thoughts promised last week on a couple dramas that have been softening in the winter.

Man with a Plan77%0.930.920.78123%48%

The sole survivor of CBS' troubled Monday in 2017-18, Man with a Plan may not have expected to come back with such a good situation in 2018-19, but here we are; after being a narrow favorite in R% for most of last season, it was up year-to-year in raw numbers vs. its season two premiere, and opened with a higher R% than it ever had last season.

I would probably take the under if you asked me where its R% will go from here; CBS comedies often look better in the winter than even the True formula can properly quantify, and this particular point may have come with even more juice thanks to Super Bowl promotion. But for a show that has typically had light DVRing and been quite timeslot-dependent, this situation may be good enough that it can slide on to syndication levels without much incident.

American Housewife80%0.780.780.671130%39%
The Kids Are Alright47%0.680.660.671227%38%

On State of the Union night, ABC gave us a one-hour preview of what's to come for Tuesday in a post-The Conners world. After The Kids Are Alright adjusted down to 0.7 in finals, it became notable as the show's first trip below a 50 in R%. It's not a different projected average than the show has had on several occasions earlier in the season, but the ABC targets have been on the upswing since the fall, so this was the first time TKAA managed to slip below it. As far as this individual data point, it was basically the same True as it's been getting lately after The Conners. It is a very iffy performer in general, but this point shouldn't really change any opinions about it.

Meanwhile, American Housewife hit a new low in its move to Tuesday at 8/7c. It was even a new low in True, though basically in line with the times when it would get 0.9's on Wednesday. As much as people seem to be awakening to the power of a local programming lead-in, I don't think there should be much question that this is a tougher situation than airing in between The Goldbergs and Modern Family. Maybe it can bounce back a little bit, but I'd be surprised if it was a lot.


I'm saving my longer spiel for the next show, because Manifest is still doing well enough and has few enough episodes left that it probably won't get too close to falling below 50%. It's softened enough in the post-America's Got Talent episodes that it deserves to have a longer wait than New Amsterdam, but it still shouldn't get the axe based on the ratings we are seeing right now (especially the DVR ratings). However, it has gotten into the territory where it wouldn't be totally crazy for NBC to study how shows like this have collapsed in the past, and maybe have a little higher threshold for how good the season 2 pitch needs to be.

How to Get Away with Murder47%0.670.680.691231%29%

The Kids Are Alright wasn't the only ABC show to slide below 50% for the first time in a long time this week. How to Get Away with Murder did it after a rather solid fall when it was as high as 93%. So what's caused a decline this precipitous? Like with TKAA, a big part of it is the rise of the ABC targets. It's especially crazy on the drama side. We're now well past the halfway point in the regular season, and a network that traditionally rolls out scores of flop dramas still hasn't aired a single one all year. That has gradually taken a toll on the formula, forced it to improve its perception of the drama department. Maybe Whiskey Cavalier, The Fix and For the People will bring things back under control later in the season, but for now the Target listed above is nearly an entire tenth of a point higher than it was on the day Murder was at 93%.

Unlike The Kids Are Alright, though, the True formula also says that Murder has become a markedly weaker show since its heyday in the mid-fall. This show was consistently holding onto 0.7's even as its lead-in Station 19 went fractional in the fall, but in this run has gotten as far down as a low 0.6 while A Million Little Things hasn't yet dropped below 1.0. It looks bad even in raw numbers, so if you think the ratings are being mis-analyzed here, it has to be because the higher-rated AMLT is actually a much worse lead-in than S19 was. Maybe that's not so ludicrous; Station 19 created a Shondaland/TGIT flow that AMLT does not, and that low 0.6 on January 31 turned into a season high 140% bump in Live+7. But suffice to say the True formula is not sophisticated enough to be able to pick up on something like that, and thus we have a much weaker show in a much stronger drama department. If I had to guess, I'd probably still bet on a final season renewal, but I'm not nearly as confident as three months ago. It'll definitely be interesting to see how Station 19 and For the People compare in the spring.

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