Bubble Watch: "The Following" Likely Renewed, 'Rake' Likely Canceled, 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' Upgraded + Thursday NFL On Broadcast?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

January 25th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 12.28.19 PM

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.

Tom’s Soapbox

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.

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Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.
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Show Network Status
Back In The Game ABC Canceled
Lucky 7 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
Ironside NBC Canceled
Welcome To The Family NBC Canceled
Betrayal ABC Cancellation Predicted
Killer Women ABC Cancellation Predicted
Nashville ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Neighbors ABC Cancellation Predicted
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland ABC Cancellation Predicted
Suburgatory ABC Cancellation Predicted
Super Fun Night ABC Cancellation Predicted
Trophy Wife ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Good Wife CBS Cancellation Predicted
Hostages CBS Cancellation Predicted
Intellignce 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
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
Enlisted Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
Raising Hope Fox Cancellation Predicted
Rake Fox Cancellation Predicted
Community NBC Cancellation Predicted
Dracula NBC Cancellation Predicted
The Michael J. Fox Show NBC Cancellation Predicted
Parenthood NBC Cancellation Predicted
Revolution 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
Castle 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
Revenge ABC Renewal Predicted
Scandal ABC Renewal Predicted
The Big Bang Theory CBS Renewal Predicted
Blue Bloods CBS Renewal Predicted
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
CSI CBS Renewal Predicted
Elementary CBS Renewal Predicted
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewal Predicted
Mike & Molly CBS Renewal Predicted
The Millers CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS: LA CBS Renewal Predicted
Person Of Interest CBS Renewal Predicted
2 Broke Girls CBS Renewal Predicted
Arrow CW Renewal Predicted
Hart Of Dixie CW Renewal Predicted
The Originals CW Renewal Predicted
Reign CW Renewal Predicted
Supernatural CW Renewal Predicted
The Vampire Diaries CW Renewal Predicted
Bones Fox 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
Grimm NBC Renewal Predicted
Law & Order: SVU NBC Renewal Predicted
Parks & Recreation NBC Renewal Predicted
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Glee Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Sleepy Hollow Fox Renewed
The Blacklist NBC Renewed

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  • Hardline_Pro

    The Following is a good show. Everyone just thinks they are a professional critic.

  • Sebastián Pablo

    Hahaha why are you posting at 11:42 PM @Tom Shaw ? Anyway, thank you for the effort; love the column

  • Alex C

    Parks & Community are just about at the same ratings. If Parks is renewed, Community should be renewed as well

  • Poppy

    Nice column, in depth analysis, looking forward to more from you. I see nothing glaring I would disagree with you on.

  • Jerry

    @Hardline_Pro

    Isn’t that the truth? Everyone hates award shows and decry all critics, thinking all critics are not worthy. But if they are all conferred a title of a “professional critic” and have a personal awards shows where all nominations and awards are decided by one person (themselves) and millions of people watch, I am sure they won’t mind. I know I won’t! :)

  • SVU: Hannibal

    I think ABC will get the TNF games (8 games, reportedly) and use it to either bridge the gap between Scandal seasons (I don’t think it will move off of Thursday, Grey’s might) or use it as a launching pad for the Thursday dramas. Also I think ABC will bid heavily just so they could have a sliver of a chance at a future Super Bowl.

  • Feedback

    I read somewhere that NBC Universal is negotiating with WWE, the wrestling company, on a new deal for their TV shows. I wonder why NBC doesn’t make a bid to move WWE Raw to the network. It has so many things going for it:
    • It’s rated TV-PG
    • It’s 3 hours of live event programming
    • Each hour rates in 1.7-1.9 in 18-49, higher than half of NBC’s current programming.
    • It airs 52 weeks a year. Literally non-stop good ratings for 3 hours the whole year. What better deal is that???

    I think it’s a natural fit for the network. Sure, USA would take a blow, but WWE has like 4 shows running simultaneously on NBC networks. All they have to do is move their Friday show off of SyFy where it never fit in, and put it on USA.

    I think NBC is foolish for not considering it. The Voice is a monster on Mondays, but it has hiatuses. Wrestling never does. Move Voice to Wednesdays and Thursdays, put Raw on Mondays, and they have solid block for the whole week.

  • Wright

    Revolution and Almost Human deserve to be On The Bubble.

  • Gary Middleton

    The difference between NFL Thursday and the Jay Leno Show is the former is 24 hours a year and the latter was to be north of 200.

    Not that I had a problem with the Leno show, I’m a big fan. But there is a difference.

  • Mark

    Feedback, you’re kidding, right? Raw is extremely lucky if it gets a 1.7-1.9 per hour. They’re usually in that 1.3-1.6 every single hour, during football season and the NBA playoffs, the ratings take a nosedive. NBC would be insanely foolish to move Raw to their main network.

  • adwhois

    @Wright – I agree.

  • Ronak

    I caught the premiere of Rake and can’t see it coming back. Vastly prefer the Aussie original. The football makes good sense for ABC.

  • Po rocks

    I love teletubbies. Po is the best

  • Midnight

    Can I ask why Suburgatory is still listed as Cancellation Predicted while the Goldbergs is Renewal Predicted even though Suburgatory grew this week to a 1.8 while the Goldbergs declined to a 1.5? Although I suspect both shows will be renewed along with the Middle, Modern Family, and Last Man Standing, I don’t see why Suburgatory is Cancellation Predicted. Even if it does lose some of its Middle lead-in, it still holds on to more of it than the Neighbors did, and ABC is in an even worse comedy situation than last year.

  • Pepper

    Community will be renewed but other than that I agree with everything.

  • JakeWisconsin

    Do you usually post Bubble Watch this early? If so, I know what I’m doing at 12:01 each Sunday. If not, than thanks for the one time bonus!

  • queeneeuq

    It’s so weird having this in the middle of the night. Anyways, why isn’t The Goldbergs and SHIELD on the bubble? The ratinhs collapsed last week and likely to fall further after The Super Bowl and The Voice. No matter good news for Nashville and Surburgatory.

  • queeneeuq

    Forgot the smiley :-)

  • ching chong

    i really hate how little the on the bubble title gets used now. take it back to how it was last year so we can have an accurate idea of how our shows are doing

  • Feedback

    @Mark
    It’s true that wrestling struggles in the fall up against Monday Night Football, but it still brings in solid ratings enough for NBC to be intrigued. Wrestling airs all 52 weeks a year, and their 18-49’s fluctuate between 1.3 and 1.9 without ever getting any lower than that. It’s basically a money tree for NBC.

    If NBC moved The Voice to later in the week, it would keep its ratings on Thursday and Raw would keep its ratings on Monday. Therefore, Raw only has to be better than their Thursday line-up for NBC to improve by adding it to its line-up. Thankfully, Raw has SHATTERED NBC’s horrible Thursday ratings on a weekly basis.

    Look at the comparisons:

    January 22- 1.7, 1.7, 1.5 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 0.7, 1.3)
    January 13- 1.6, 1.6, 1.6 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 0.7, 1.2)
    January 06- 1.6, 1.6, 1.6 (NBC Thursdays: 1.4, 1.0, 1.3)

    December 30- 1.4, 1.4, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 1.3, 0.8, 1.3)
    December 23- 1.3, 1.3, 1.2 (NBC Thursdays: 0.6, 1.4, 1.4)
    December 16- 1.6, 1.5, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.2, 1.2, 1.7)
    December 09- 1.5, 1.5, 1.6 (NBC Thursdays: 1.3, 0.9, 1.2)
    December 02- 1.2, 1.2, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 4.6, 4.6, 4.6)

    November 25- 1.5, 1.5, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 2.5, 6.9, 6.9)
    November 18- 1.4, 1.4, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 1.0, 0.9, 1.2)
    November 11- 1.3, 1.3, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 0.9, 1.2)
    November 04- 1.4, 1.4, 1.3 (NBC Thursdays: 2.5, 1.2, 1.3)

    October 28- 1.5, 1.4, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.7, 1.1, 1.2)
    October 21- 1.3, 1.3, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.3, 1.1, 1.3)
    October 14- 1.5, 1.5, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 1.1, 1.3)
    October 07- 1.3, 1.4, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2)

    September 30- 1.3, 1.3, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 1.5, 1.5)
    September 24- 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.3, 2.2, 1.6)
    September 17- 1.3, 1.5, 1.5 (NBC Thursdays: 1.3, 1.3, 0.8)
    September 10- 1.3, 1.3, 1.4 (NBC Thursdays: 1.1, 1.0, 1.0)
    September 04- 1.4, 1.6, 1.5 (NBC Thursdays: 5.4, 10.3, 10.3)

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