Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tyler's Weekly Ratings Roundup - Week Ending October 5th

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. 

The second week of the television week usually isn’t this busy, but with two breakout hits and one massive flop, we saw our first back-nine up pickup, renewal, and cancelation all within the last few days.
"Sleepy Hollow" picked up the first renewal of the season.
Fox –
The biggest news this week was easily Fox’s Sleepy Hollow being renewed for a second season.  Along with that announcement came the somewhat surprising decision by Fox not to extend the first season past the initial 13 episode order.  Outside of the Writers’ Strike-shortened 2007 season, I can’t think of a single other instance of a network renewing a fall show during the season but not giving it a back-end order.  The closest was probably Terra Nova, which would have gotten similar treatment had its ratings been better.

It really is a shame, because I had this whole thing planned where I was going to discuss what seemed to be Fox’s drama logjam this spring after Almost Human debuts and once The Following returns.  Keeping Sleepy Hollow to a half-season fixes that potential problem, but comes as a bit of a surprise.  Fox has now developed two legitimate drama hits in the last two seasons, but they can really only count as one because they’re going to end up sharing a single timeslot.  Maybe this is the future of television, though.  Two shows airing 28 episodes in the same timeslot helps keep down the number of repeats and keeps viewers from tuning out during a hiatus.  Fox seems like the one network that can benefit most from this (since they only program 12 hours per week instead of 18), but I’m curious to see where this leads.

The rest of Fox’s week was not as good.  Pretty much every other show on the network was down, with the exception of The X-Factor which is holding relatively steady.  Of particular concern is the pairing of Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine which are entering the danger zone with their ratings and haven’t even stabilized yet.  Coming into the season, I thought the two-hour Tuesday comedy block was a problem spot and Fox still hasn’t found a fix for it, yet.  If Sleepy Hollow was going to air in the spring, I would argue that Fox should cull the live-action comedies to one hour, but with a number of midseason replacements ready to fill in, they appear to be holding steady for now.  The only question is at what point Fox decides to ditch Dads or Brooklyn Nine-Nine and bring Raising Hope back to Tuesdays.  It wasn’t doing great ratings before, but it would surely be an upgrade over either of those two.

Fox program averages (1.93 network average – Bold indicates renewal for 2014-15 season):
Sleepy Hollow – 3.20
The Simpsons – 2.90
Family Guy – 2.60
New Girl – 2.30
The X-Factor – 2.24
Bob’s Burgers – 2.20
American Dad – 2.10
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 1.93
Bones – 2.13
Glee- 1.8
Dads – 1.67
The Mindy Project – 1.63
MasterChef Jr. (Friday) – 1.60

James Spader smarmed his way to the season's first full-season order for "The Blacklist"
While Fox made all the headlines by renewing Sleepy Hollow, it was NBC that handed out the first full-season order to The Blacklist.  The James Spader-helmed show has more than earned the distinction, launching as the top show on NBC and, as we found out today, becoming the first network show in television history to gain 5 million viewers in the Live+3 DVR ratings.  I normally don’t care all that much about DVR ratings, since they generally haven’t been shown to correlate with renewals, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.

The biggest question is going to be how NBC handles The Blacklist and The Voice moving forward.  Revolution debuted big for the network last year and got the early pickup, but NBC held both shows back until March, hoping that keeping the big lead-in for Revolution would help keep its ratings up.  They were wrong, and The Voice struggled a bit too, running several episodes into June.  I doubt NBC does the same this year.  Instead, with the Winter Olympics running in the middle of February, I expect both The Voice and The Blacklist to return at the end of February, which should help keep both shows high.

NBC launched three new shows this week, with none showing any real promise.  Welcome to the Family and Ironside both bombed (even for NBC standards) while the best that can be said about Sean Saves the World is that it grew from its lead-in, Welcome to the Family. 

Overall, NBC is still doing fantastically well on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights but really dropping the ball on Wednesday and Thursday.  I’m not sure that there are any quick fixes right now, though it’s possible that SVU would be better serviced in the 9:00 slot currently occupied by Ironside.  NBC will take another week before deciding how to proceed with its weakest shows, but I wouldn’t be surprised to have cancelation news on Family by this time next week.

NBC program averages (2.98 network average):
Sunday Night Football- 7.60
The Voice – 4.75
The Blacklist – 3.55
Chicago Fire – 2.65
Law & Order: SVU – 2.35
The Michael J Fox Show – 1.95
Revolution – 1.70
Parenthood – 1.55
Sean Saves the World – 1.40
Ironside – 1.30
Parks and Recreation – 1.25
Welcome to the Family – 1.10

"Lucky 7" turned out to be not so lucky, earning the season's first cancelation
While Fox and NBC had good news for everybody this week, it was ABC who brought everybody down with the first cancelation of the season: Lucky 7.  It wasn’t really a surprise, given that the show debuted spectacularly low and then somehow managed to drop almost 50% from that crazily low number.  It’s unfortunate, but ABC had to know that this was a possibility.  Lucky 7 got very little advertising this fall, as ABC hoped they could pour their budget behind SHIELD and let that show carry the night.  Unfortunately, they were wrong. And Lucky 7 was the first casualty of that decision.

Also in trouble is the show that immediately preceded Lucky 7, Trophy Wife.  It’s a shame because I really enjoy Trophy Wife, but with a 1.4 rating it can’t afford to keep dropping.  It’s possible that the show could find a home on Friday night, where The Neighbors is similarly struggling, but it’s hard seeing Trophy Wife airing a full season this year.

Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad news for ABC.  Once Upon a Time and Revenge both returned to numbers that were well above their spring finales, even if they were down from last year’s premieres.  But the best news was surely the ascent of Scandal, which debuted to a 3.6 rating, up more than 70% from last year’s premiere and 16% from its spring finale.  It was a big leap for the show and ABC is looking to capitalize on it by running repeats in the timeslot vacated by Lucky 7.  ABC desperately needs a new hit, especially given the age of its other top show Grey’s Anatomy.  And it might just have one in Scandal.

ABC is likely going to mired in fourth place throughout much of the season (though Fox is there for the moment).  They desperately need to stabilize Tuesday nights, but if they can get new hits out of SHIELD and Scandal, they’ll be well on their way out of the basement.

ABC program averages (2.33 network average):
Modern Family – 4.20
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – 4.00
Scandal – 3.60
Grey’s Anatomy – 3.25
Super Fun Night – 3.20
The Goldbergs – 2.65
Once Upon a Time – 2.60
Dancing With the Stars – 2.47
The Middle – 2.40
Revenge – 2.30
Castle – 2.20
Back in the Game – 2.05
Nashville – 1.95
Shark Tank (Friday) – 1.90
Trophy Wife – 1.85
Betrayal – 1.50
Last Man Standing (Friday) – 1.35
The Neighbors (Friday) – 1.10
Lucky 7 – 1.00

Moving "Person of Interest" was CBS's biggest gamble
While the other networks were at least making some decisions this week, CBS largely stood pat, debuting some of their weaker shows, but not seeing a great deal of change in the ratings.  Most of their shows were down, but not absurdly so.  We Are Men premiered weak, as was likely expected, but not so weak that it merits instant cancelation.

The big offseason move that I’m going to keep coming back to throughout the season was CBS’s decision to move Person of Interest from Thursday to Tuesday.  It made a certain amount of sense.  The network has struggled to fill the last timeslot on Tuesdays and Person of Interest could bring its established audience over.  The one potential drawback is that it left a new comedy in The Crazy Ones and an aging Two and a Half Men to fill the gap left by POI.  The move to Tuesday has hurt POI’s ratings, but not so much to merit cancelation or to label the move a disaster, so long as the Thursday comedies can keep their ratings up.  So far, they are.  But if the comedies keep falling, this move could end up killing multiple shows including last year’s post-Super Bowl show, Elementary.

Right now the gap between good and bad is smallest at CBS, so I think it unlikely that we’ll get much news in the next few weeks.  The one possible exception to that is Hostages, but given that the network has pitched that show as a limited series, I could also see them letting it run its 13 or 15 episode course.  CBS’s strategy, as always, is going to be consistency throughout the entire season, leaning especially on repeats and having no real busts to finish in first or second place for the year.  Right now, they’re still on that track.

CBS program averages (2.40 network average):
The Big Bang Theory – 5.50
NCIS – 3.55
The Crazy Ones – 3.40
How I Met Your Mother – 3.40
The Millers – 3.30
NCIS: LA – 2.85
Criminal Minds – 2.75
Two and a Half Men – 2.65
Two Broke Girls – 2.60
Survivor – 2.57
Mom – 2.35
Person of Interest – 2.20
CSI – 2.15
Elementary – 2.05
We Are Men – 2.00
The Amazing Race – 2.00
Blue Bloods (Friday) – 1.70
Hostages – 1.65
Undercover Boss (Friday) – 1.60
Hawaii Five-0 (Friday) – 1.60
The Mentalist - 1.60
The Good Wife – 1.50

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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