Monday, April 8, 2019

Renewology Week 28: In the Dark, and A Fresh Look at ABC's 10:00 Dramas

Here's a look at the big Renewology developments in week 28.

In the Dark34%

No, we are not yet at the point where you can get a 0.2 on series premiere night and still be considered a renewal favorite on the CW. But we are most definitely at the point where you can settle at 0.2 and be considered a renewal favorite, as All American can attest. So if In the Dark wants to stay on the wrong side of this model, it's gonna have to find its way to a rounded 0.1. Nothing on the network has done that this year on a weeknight, though Life Sentence pulled it off a couple times last season.

The Rookie86%0.830.830.701823%42%
Whiskey Cavalier58%0.730.730.70622%38%
For the People39%0.650.660.70522%34%
How to Get Away with Murder36%0.660.660.701530%29%
The Fix6%0.510.470.70320%36%

For much of the fall, I talked about how the perception of ABC's drama standards had gotten a bit skewed because the network wasn't airing its usual bevy of flop dramas (devoting much of that real estate to flop reality instead). A lot of people legitimately thought that The Rookie and A Million Little Things were in mortal danger, which could make sense if you just thought of them as "the weakest dramas ABC was airing at the time" but didn't make a ton of sense in a larger historical context, compared with flops of the past. I always wanted to wait and see what the midseason dramas did to the totem pole. Now that they're all here, it's time to revisit.

Let me start with the two clearer-cut ones. With The Rookie, it would be easy to just say that it is looking more favorable for exactly the reason I prophesied in the fall: a bunch of midseason dramas came in that have made it look better by comparison. But The Rookie is also looking better in an absolute sense; after consistently hitting 0.6 in February, it's been at a 0.7 in each of its last three episodes. Considering its bad lead-in situation, even more 0.6's would make it a favorite in Renewology terms, but 0.7 with good DVR growth is pretty difficult to deny. Should be renewed.

The clear weak link in this group is The Fix, which hit a low 0.5 with the best lead-in of the bunch (American Idol) in its third week on the air. You can make the argument that it's not a big raw numbers difference with the other shows, so if it can hold all of this even when it loses the Idol lead-in, it'll end up not looking that different from Whiskey and For the People. But from where we're sitting right now, that's a huge if. Hence the dark red R%.

Then there's Whiskey Cavalier, which has sort of turned into the show that we thought The Rookie was on its way to becoming back in February. I said back in Whiskey's early weeks that if it settled at 0.6 it would inevitably become an R% favorite, and that's what has happened. (It also has a 0.5 leading out of a Single Parents repeat, which is basically the same thing as a 0.6 in True terms.) If it stays at 0.6 with good DVR growth and an incompatible Single Parents lead-in, it won't be out of the woods, but it's a long way from being a flop on The Fix's level.

And finally, For the People. This is one of those frustrating ones for the True formula, like last year's Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, because it has fairly poor DVR growth for a 10/9c drama. On a Live+SD basis, it's not really that different from the previous occupant How to Get Away with Murder, which was on the 0.5-0.6 borderline at the end of its season just like FTP is now. But Murder has almost twice as much delayed DVR growth.

The whole "it got one bad renewal, so it's more likely to get another" theory has failed plenty of times, but this is a show that got renewed pulling 0.5's after a 1.0 lead-in a full year ago. Hard to make the case that it currently looks any worse than FTP season one. So unless its weakness starts manifesting more in Live+SD, FTP is probably going to continue lingering in this bubble-ish territory, even though I feel it should be less than 39% and Murder should be higher than 36%.

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