Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Breakdown: NBC Thursday in 2018-19 (Superstore, Will and Grace, Law and Order: SVU and more!)

It's time for a journey through the NBC Thursday schedule in 2018-19...


2017-18SuperstoreThe Good PlaceWill and GraceGreat NewsChicago Fire115
2018-19SuperstoreThe Good PlaceWill and GraceI Feel BadLaw and Order: SVU86 (-25%)
90 (-15%)89 (-16%)85 (-53%)55 (-32%)98 (-9%)
90 (-15%)70 (-47%)

With no more heat from the early weeks of the Will and Grace revival, the whole of NBC Thursday plummeted below the league average in fall 2018, with W&G down by more than half (!) from the previous fall and the other comedies down double digits. The only somewhat reasonable hold came at 10/9c, where Law and Order: SVU managed to stay within single digits of the transplanted Chicago Fire.


2017-18SuperstoreThe Good PlaceWill and GraceGreat NewsChicago Fire91
2018-19The Titan GamesBrooklyn Nine-NineWill and GraceLaw and Order: SVU102 (+13%)
136 (+42%)90 (-17%)75 (+41%)89 (-7%)
82 (+2%)

NBC got more serious on the night at midseason, with Dwayne Johnson-led reality newbie The Titan Games making a nice initial splash and providing a boost to the early weeks of NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine rescue. In addition to Will and Grace's 9:30 run pictured above, The Good Place had the last three weeks of its season at 9:30.


2017-18SuperstoreA.P. BioWill and GraceChampionsChicago Fire77
2018-19SuperstoreA.P. BioBrooklyn Nine-NineAbby'sLaw and Order: SVU66 (-14%)
84 (+6%)53 (-9%)58 (-37%)44 (+1%)78 (-18%)
69 (0%)51 (-25%)

It was back to two-hour comedy misery in the spring, as Brooklyn cratered when surrounded by sophomore reach A.P. Bio and another flop newbie in Abby's. The only spring consolation was Superstore, a show traditionally prone to some very ugly spring results, showing some real spunk in the last couple months this time.

Rating the Ratings

The Titan Games0.91.291.8136hitdetail
The Good Place0.70.841.0-26%89marginal-15%detail
A.P. Bio0.30.470.5-36%49flop-26%detail
Will and Grace*0.60.751.0-50%78marginal-42%detail
Brooklyn Nine-Nine*0.50.701.2-5%74marginal+9%detail
I Feel Bad0.40.571.160flopdetail
Law and Order: SVU*0.70.841.1-32%89marginal-22%detail

Superstore: This season held up a lot better in the spring than Superstore seasons past, and it was particularly magnified because the rest of the night in the spring was such a trainwreck. Taking its long winter hiatus into account, it probably had tougher timeslots on average. But to go any higher than this grade-wise would be to completely disregard a somewhat underwhelming fall. Let's see if the spring momentum can carry over, especially in a world without The Big Bang Theory. Grade: B.

The Titan Games: I have to say, I really did not remember Titan having this high of a season average; its presence in a winter chock full of massive breakout reality (Masked Singer, Bachelor, AGT: Champions) made it look small by comparison. It was also a heavily front-loaded average, with a double-length premiere that was almost double where it ended up. However, where it ended up was actually still pretty good. But NBC has offered no word on its future. Grade: B.

The Good Place: Like Superstore, it took a rather sizable fall drop, but may have in part been a casualty of Will and Grace's struggles. It didn't get a one-hour preview after a big reality show this year, and was moved to 9:30 at the end of the season, so True Plus says this was not as big a decline as the raw numbers indicate. Grade: C+.

A.P. Bio: It was a reach last year and it looked a good bit worse this year. Congrats on the revival for streaming, though. Grade: D.

Will and Grace: The year-to-year drop is really something, making for a grading quandry sort of like with The Good Doctor. I was harsh with Good Doc because that one was harder to see coming before the season began, whereas with W&G it was easy: the first revival season went from a 3.0 premiere to a 0.9 finale. So it's not that huge of a stunner given last year's trajectory. The problem is that the comparisons still looked pretty rotten even late in the season. It remained the biggest DVR percentage gainer of any broadcast comedy, but the y2y declines are every bit as bad in Live+7 ratings. Grade: C-.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: After some initial hype and big lead-ins, it ultimately became something fairly close to what it was in its last season on Fox (maybe a little better than the version that bombed out on Tuesdays in fall 2017). I don't find that particularly surprising in either direction. It's sort of the reverse of my grading rationale with Superstore; I'm tempted to be harsher because of how rough things got in the spring, but I don't want to completely ignore the decent growth for the full season. Grade: B-.

I Feel Bad: Though it was down 32% in the fall comparison, given the epic fall of its W&G lead-in I would say it was about the same strength level as last year's Great News. Problem is... that's not a compliment. Grade: D-.

Abby's: I honestly don't see much difference between I Feel Bad and Abby's, much like I didn't between Great News and Champions last year. So on some level, Abby's is just unlucky that it had to air in the spring. Looking at its spring average above, I would say what I said about Champions last year: "It's still a 44 Plus on a weeknight......" Grade: F.

Law and Order: SVU: Really tough timeslot change from Wednesday 9/8c to Thursday 10/9c, and NBC can count the Chicago Fire flip as a win because SVU dropped a bit less than Fire gained. I would still make the case this show maybe should've held up a hair better, because it was clearly weaker than the year-ago Fire, but it transitioned to the later hour a bit better than Bull did for CBS. Grade: C+.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for NBC Thursday.

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