Monday, October 14, 2019

Renewology Week 3: The CW's Premiere Week, and the Newbie Mean Reversion

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

The CW's Premiere Week
All American95%0.310.270.18146%50%
Nancy Drew71%

The CW managed to get through the first five days of its drama rollout without seeing anything drop below a 0.3. The show that had to overachieve the most to pull that off was All American, which had ended its first season on 10 straight 0.2's and hadn't aired for over six months. But it got there rather comfortably, perhaps experiencing a Riverdale-esque "Netflix bounce." That may seem like a ridiculous comparison for a show that only got a 0.31, but at least on a percentage basis, it actually has some crazy echoes. It was up about 60% vs. its season one premiere (0.194 -> 0.31), almost exactly the same percentage growth as the season two premiere of Riverdale (0.510 -> 0.807). It also came just shy of doubling its season one finale (0.16 -> 0.31), just like Riverdale (0.407 -> 0.802).

Of course, this wasn't as impressive as Riverdale, because we're dealing in smaller numbers where the help from airing at 8/7c after local programming should be magnified. But it'd be a mistake to attribute it all to that as well. Even in the DVR ratings, there seems to be new interest; the show tied its biggest Live+3 percentage gain, easily had its biggest raw gain, and the Live+3 rating was nearly a tenth ahead of anything from season one. The takeaway from a Renewology standpoint is that All American looks pretty darn safe at the moment. Even that is an accomplishment, considering this show missed out on an early renewal last year (from which I infer that it was at least under consideration to get cancelled).

Meanwhile, Batwoman drew a reasonable amount of interest on Sunday and Nancy Drew held on competently after a nice bounce-back evening from Riverdale on Wednesday. It's very early, but this network doesn't cancel much, so there's little reason right now to believe these shows are in much danger.

The Week Three Shakeup
Bob Hearts Abishola62%0.630.590.56318%41%
Carol's Second Act42%0.560.530.56316%35%
The Unicorn33%0.540.510.56317%40%
Prodigal Son33%0.650.570.64331%39%

One point that I have made many times over the years is that you shouldn't overreact to what a newbie does in week two; there is actually a slight negative correlation between week two drops and week three drops. In other words, if a show appears to hold up brilliantly or completely falter in week two, it's actually a little more likely that it's pure noise than that it's an actual verdict by the audience.

But this year, that truism has been on display to an almost comical degree. Almost everything that overachieved in week two (Prodigal Son, Stumptown and the CBS Thursday comedies) took a big drop in week three. Most of these shows reverted to about where the formula expected they would be based on the week one ratings, with The Unicorn being a notable exception that underachieved even by that standard. Meanwhile, two of the shows that appeared to disappoint in week two (CBS' Bob Hearts Abishola and Evil) held up well in week three, putting themselves back on their week one tracks (and at new highs in R% because the targets have gone down so much). All in all, we're pretty much back to where we were in week one: a bunch of contenders, but a very poor newbie class overall with no clear favorites emerging.

Just about the only show that had a bad week two and a bad week three was ABC's Emergence, which isn't a big surprise based on how this type of show fades historically. And even in that case, the week two wasn't really that bad, but dropping by more than a tenth again in week three was a crushing blow. Maybe that will prove to be noise as well and it can bounce back, but at this level it's got no more room to fall.

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