Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ratings Roundup - A "Super" Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the CBS Comedies

I love television ratings.  I love what they tell us about individual shows, the networks, and the industry in general.  My intention with this weekly article is to take a look at the week in ratings and prognosticate about their future and the health of each network.   Ratings presented here are the Adults 18-49 rating, which represents the percentage of adults between 18 and 49 watching a particular program. 

Well that was close.  We almost made it an entire week without any renewals, cancelations, or pickups being made and this was going to be a very short article.  Thankfully, Friday brought with it a flurry of activity, including a bunch of back-nine orders for CBS and a pair of cancelations at NBC. 

This picture really makes me wish Margo Martindale was still on "The Americans"

As always, we’ll start with the good news, and there was plenty of it to go around at CBS.  All of the network’s comedies that are still airing (RIP We Are Men) received full-season orders.  That means we’ll be getting full seasons of Mom, The Millers, and The Crazy Ones.  None of the orders are particularly surprising, given the relative performance of the shows, though it’s weird to see a pattern developing of not just bad news, but all news about renewals and cancelations coming out on Friday afternoons.  Typically Fridays are reserved for news you want to bury over the weekend.  CBS should be shouting these pickups from the rooftops, but instead they’re whispering it in the corner.

On the side of the bad news, CBS is still struggling a bit overall.  The big move of Person of Interest has thus far been a half-success.  That Person of Interest has stabilized a previously problematic timeslot is obviously good.  But the 8:00 comedies put on in its place haven’t been able to replicate its ratings on Thursdays.  They also might be having a slight negative impact on Elementary, though I’m willing to bet its struggles are its own.

The biggest problem CBS is facing right now, though, is on Sunday nights, where The Good Wife and The Mentalist are falling to incredibly low numbers, to the level of Hostages, even, which everybody knows is going to be canceled before the end of the year.  Both of those shows have been kept alive in recent years because of syndication economics, but it’s going to be a tough argument to keep them on the air past this season.  CBS Sunday has been falling for several years, no matter what shows have been on, so it will be interesting to see how the network tries to fix things on Sunday next year.

It just wasn't meant to be for Blair Underwood and "Ironside"
With the good news out of the way, it’s time for the bad news.  NBC announced on Friday that Ironside and Welcome to the Family have both been canceled.  They’ll be replaced in January by Chicago PD (the Chicago Fire spinoff) and the return of Community, respectively.

 Furthermore, NBC appears desperate to save Sean Saves the World and The Michael Fox Show, as it’s pulling Parks and Recreation for most of the rest of the fall in order to run a number of The Voice and SNL specials.  There was a lot of sturm und drang among Parks and Rec fans lamenting the crazy scheduling, but it really shouldn’t be a concern.  At this point in its life, the show is scheduling spackle for NBC that they can air at any time with little fanfare or promotion and still draw a decent (for them) rating.  NBC is obviously going to sink is resources and efforts into saving its new shows.  But if they can’t beat Park and Recreation’s numbers, it will be back next year.

With the exception of that bit of chaos, NBC was fairly stable this week.  Sunday and Monday are still doing spectacularly.  Tuesday is pretty good.  Wednesday is struggling but not nearly as much as Thursday.  The big questions now are whether The Blacklist and Chicago Fire can maintain their ratings as The Voice enters its annual downturn and what Grimm and Dracula can do when they return Friday.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is turning into one of my favorite comedies.
Fox –
The last bit of news announced on Friday was actually good news.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine was picked up for a full season and was chosen as the other program (along with New Girl) that Fox is going to air after the Super Bowl.  It’s obviously good news for Nine-Nine, though I question how much of a boost the show will get from the Super Bowl.  The last time a network aired a pair of comedies after the Super Bowl, American Dad lost more than a third of The Simpson’s audience.  Obviously, people will watch.  But I don’t think Fox can expect the kind ratings for Nine-Nine that it got last time they aired the Super Bowl, when Glee drew almost 27 million viewers and an 11.1 rating.

In other news, Fox’s Tuesday comedies continued their decline, with even New Girl falling under a 2.0 rating.  I’m not sure how Fox can continue airing two hours of comedy on Tuesday nights, though I’m also not sure what else they could air instead.

The MLB playoffs have given Fox a slight boost over last season, but it’s really not a lot at this point.  They’ve got a legitimate hit in Sleepy Hollow, but it will end in January or February.  If The Following doesn’t come back strong and Almost Human stumbles out of the gate, they could be facing some serious problems in the spring.

No real news for ABC, but Kerry Washington is hosting the next SNL, so Scandal gets the pic.
 There wasn’t much news out of ABC this week, which is both good and bad for the network.  While it means that nothing other than Lucky 7 has had poor enough ratings to merit cancelation, it equally means that nothing other than SHIELD has had good enough ratings to merit a full-season pickup. 

ABC’s biggest problem so far has been stability.  None of their new shows have stabilized at ratings that are really worthy of back-nine orders.  The Goldbergs has been dropping 15-30% every week, Super Fun Night has fallen about 20% in the last two weeks, and Wonderland fell almost 30% from its already weak launch.  The shows that have stabilized, have done so at either low (Back in the Game), really low (Trophy Wife), or abysmal (Betrayal) ratings levels.

Probably, and unfortunately, the biggest news for ABC was the big drop in viewers for the second week of Wonderland.  Its debut was already soft, but dropping 30% from there to a rating just barely better than Betrayal’s second week (1.2 versus 1.1) does not bode well for the freshman show.  I guess it’s still possible that ABC could try to salvage Wonderland by moving it to Sunday nights to try to boost that flagging lineup (where it would have a more natural companion with its parent show).  But other than that, I don’t see any way to save the show.

Fortunately for ABC, the network hasn’t seen too much erosion in its returning shows.  Sundays are struggling (as they were last spring), but pretty much every other show has returned above where it was last spring and, in Scandal’s case, higher than it ever was last season.  ABC is still tracking for fourth place (owing mostly to a lack of sports or singing programs), but it’s not entirely a disaster.

Season to Date Network Rating Averages (Adults 18-49) –
NBC – 2.77 (Down 1.8% YTD)
CBS – 2.14 (Down 6.2% YTD)
ABC – 2.10 (Down 1.4% YTD)
Fox – 1.92 (Down 3.5% YTD)

New Renewals, Pickups, and Cancelations –
Mom (CBS) – Full-Season Order
The Millers (CBS) – Full-Season Order
The Crazy Ones (CBS) – Full-Season Order
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox) – Full-Season Order
Welcome to the Family (NBC) – Canceled
Ironside (NBC) – Canceled

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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