Bubble Watch: “The Following” Likely Renewed, ‘Rake’ Likely Canceled, ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ Upgraded + Thursday NFL On Broadcast?
This week’s premieres and other notable data points:
The Following, with the NFC Championship Game as a lead-in, hit a series high for its season premiere. While at times it seemed like half the show’s audience actively hated it in Season 1 and the show would promptly collapse in Season 2 (e.g. Smash), that kind of return for a known quantity makes me think it will have no problems surviving, especially compared to Fox’s average drama rating this season.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine jumped up half a point this week. Looks like Fox finally found a strategy that will work – getting ABC and CBS to air repeats against their shows.
All snark aside, again, fluctuations like that are a good thing. It suggests that there is a larger possible audience for the show – just not against the currently scheduled competition. The show may improve in a different situation, compared to a veteran show like, say, Parenthood, which even against double repeats was essentially flat. Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s numbers at 9:30 will determine its fate, and with no data points at 9:30 to go off of, I’ve moved it to “On The Bubble”.
Rake started out with borderline numbers. If it drops from its premiere, like almost all shows do, the show is done for. I’ve started it in “Cancellation Predicted” as I doubt it will buck the trend. (Plus, Fox already picked up their next “It’s House as a fill-in-the-blank” series in Backstrom.)
Raising Hope and Enlisted swapped timeslots, and both shows grew from last week. Then again, CBS airing a repeat of Hawaii Five-0 opposite the hour was likely the bigger factor.
The NFL Drops the Hammer on Thursdays
The NFL’s Thursday Night Football games have been a mixed bag for the NFL. While they have led to growth in the NFL Network, the games themselves are largely duds, due to limited prep time and insistence on giving nearly every team a game in the schedule.
Sensing that growth for the NFL Network is limited (it is now carried by almost every major cable/satellite company) and that the games were underviewed (they averaged just 8 million viewers per game in 2013, vs. the over 20 million average viewers for Sunday Night Football), the NFL has offered up a package of Thursday Night Football games for next season.
The details are murky – it may be anywhere from 6 to 13 games, depending on the bid, the NFL wants to simulcast the games on the NFL Network, and the deal is only for one year initially, presumably so the NFL can cleanly back out if NFL Network revenue plummets. Regardless, every current NFL network (among others) has reportedly put in bids for the package. While it is thought that NBC, Fox, and CBS are interested in airing the games on their cable sports networks (NBC Sports, Fox Sports 1, and CBS Sports, respectively), the price tag involved in securing the deal (and the desire by the NFL to expand the audience of the games) could push the games to their broadcast networks.
How could the TNF package on broadcast affect each of the networks (I assume any broadcast network gets the full 13 game slate)?
ABC: ABC is thought to be one of the networks most bullish on purchasing the package, despite two out of their three biggest programs already airing on the night. There is a lot to recommend the idea, though: ABC could move Grey’s Anatomy to Sunday at 9, upgrading the timeslot and providing a good lead-in to a new drama at 10; they would massively upgrade either Tuesday or Wednesday at 10 with Scandal; they would finally air something the ABC Death Slot (Thursday at 8) can’t take down. Plus, that sort of move is the kind of thing of thing that buys executives another year…
Bubble Ramifications: Frankly, this would be a positive thing for shows like Nashville and Revenge. Knowing that ABC has to come up with three extra hours in January every year, plus the usual replacement shows to cover failed Fall premieres, means that shows sitting on the bench with syndication prospects ahead will look much more attractive than their current situation of eating questionable ratings from September through May.
CBS: To start with, I’d be shocked if CBS won the bid. I don’t believe modern reality has caught up with CBS enough for them to seriously consider such a nuclear option and bid accordingly. Still, on paper, it isn’t all bad: The Big Bang Theory could move back to Monday and hopefully breathe some life back into that comedy block and whatever new drama airs at 10pm, and Elementary can be slotted into another night at 10pm.
Bubble Ramifications: Unless CBS is going to flip The Big Bang Theory between Mondays and Thursdays after the NFL every year, whatever airs on Thursdays in Spring wouldn’t rate nearly as well as it does now, and CBS isn’t in dire enough straits yet to willingly risk having to remake Thursday every January. I just don’t see CBS winning the bid. But for completion’s sake, I don’t believe CBS would think many of their newbie comedies on Thursdays would survive without The Big Bang Theory starting off the night, and while The Millers would get a try on Mondays, Mom and The Crazy Ones would end. Veterans like Mike & Molly and Two and a Half Men would likely get 13 episode orders to either cover failures on Monday or start Thursdays at 8 in January. The Sunday dramas (The Good Wife, The Mentalist) would likely get 13 episode orders (again, greater need for spackle every January) with only a minor fight on price beforehand.
Fox: The more I think about it, the better the option seems for Fox. Fox could air football in Fall and American Idol in Spring and not have to deal with the sudden hole in the schedule the rest of the networks would have. Their new network development process means that they can easily push some of their projects into next year, as most have no cast signed – just a showrunner and maybe a couple staff writers. (Plus, their array of projects slowly cooking mean they would be the best suited to recover if the NFL (literally) takes their ball away and only airs TNF on NFL Network next year.) Furthermore, the noticeable jump in the ratings averages from TNF would cover any bumps in the road the new developmental process might create. Two downsides though: 1) The games would go deep into the affiliates’ 10 and even 11pm hours. 2) There are likely to be one or two conflicts with MLB Playoff games every year.
Bubble Ramifications: Unlike the rest of the networks, this would essentially be a one-for-one swap of (one night of) The X-Factor for TNF, with little ramifications otherwise. About the only real issue is if Glee stays on Tuesdays, which would squeeze the bubble comedies.
NBC: To be frank, NBC has little to lose on Thursdays currently. Two days of The Voice and two days of NFL in Fall would put out impressive numbers… in Fall. Having to come up with 7 additional hours of programming every January would sting, and I would expect NBC would have to air more reality shows in winter (closer to the Sundays they had prior to this season). This also gives NBC a graceful out in moving their comedies to another night (not that, say, Tuesdays at 9 is necessarily any easier competition).
Bubble Ramifications: See ABC – 13 episodes of Parenthood for Spring, when they would have seven more hours to cover, could be a useful backup. The situation is not as comfy for the comedies, though – two comedies with a The Voice lead-in, only on Tuesdays, would mean that comedy spackle isn’t needed in bulk, which is a bad situation for the Communitys of the network.
The Fallon/Leno newsbits remind me of the ‘outrage’ that erupted over NBC’s plan to swap out part of their schedule for The Jay Leno Show, while the prospect of TNF moving to the networks doesn’t even register a peep. Was it half a decade of the modern business realities catching up to the rest of the networks now, or just the networks seeing a chance to hit a wounded opponent and/or distributors whose business is selling shows seeing their market shrink then? You make the call.
Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.
|Back In The Game||ABC||Canceled|
|How I Met Your Mother||CBS||Final Season|
|We Are Men||CBS||Canceled|
|Nikita||CW||Final Season Finished|
|American Dad||Fox||Moving to TBS|
|Welcome To The Family||NBC||Canceled|
|Killer Women||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Neighbors||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Once Upon a Time in Wonderland||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Super Fun Night||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Trophy Wife||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Good Wife||CBS||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Mentalist||CBS||Cancellation Predicted|
|Beauty & The Beast||CW||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Carrie Diaries||CW||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Tomorrow People||CW||Cancellation Predicted|
|Almost Human||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Mindy Project||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|Raising Hope||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Michael J. Fox Show||NBC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Sean Saves The World||NBC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Crazy Ones||CBS||On The Bubble|
|Mom||CBS||On The Bubble|
|Two and a Half Men||CBS||On The Bubble|
|Brooklyn Nine-Nine||Fox||On The Bubble|
|Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|The Goldbergs||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|Grey’s Anatomy||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|Last Man Standing||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|The Middle||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|Modern Family||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|Once Upon a Time||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|The Big Bang Theory||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Blue Bloods||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Criminal Minds||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Hawaii Five-0||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Mike & Molly||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|The Millers||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|NCIS: LA||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Person of Interest||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|2 Broke Girls||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Hart of Dixie||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|The Originals||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|The Vampire Diaries||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|Family Guy||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|The Following||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|The New Girl||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|Chicago Fire||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Chicago PD||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Law & Order: SVU||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Parks & Recreation||NBC||Renewal Predicted|