This week’s notable data points and events:
Super Bowl XLVIII rapidly became one sided; it was still the most watched program ever. This is the NFL’s world now – the rest of us just live in it. That dominance only applies to NFL games, not NFL-adjacent shows though, as…
New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine tied their series lows in their regular timeslot airings. Non-premiere Super Bowl lead-outs have seen increasingly little long-term benefits; there may be some boost when airing a premiere after the Super Bowl. Regardless, the networks have settled on trying to maximize ad revenue by airing a pre-existing show, vs. promoting a new show, and I expect that to continue in the future. (You may as well pencil in The Blacklist for next year’s slot now.) Fox doesn’t appear to be too worried though, as…
The X-Factor was canceled. The true usefulness of The X-Factor was that it allowed Fox to break their cycle of “Premiere (and Promote) a ton of new Fall shows, Ruthlessly cull them three months later to make room for American Idol, Repeat” they had going (and not killing the SYTYCD team). Given how many scripted shows Fox has in the works, I don’t expect reality programming like Utopia to fill too much of the void – but I’m not sure how a bunch of “Limited” series that only get one ~13 episode order will be functionally different than the old cycle. With that much room opening up in Fall though, Fox will almost certainly air four or more comedies next season, which should be good news for at least one of the bubble comedies Fox has.
The Michael J. Fox Show was pulled off the schedule*. Much like Sean Saves The World, this has been a dead show walking since episode three or so, and unless NBC was going to shuffle Undateable onto Thursday somewhere, the time to pull the show was now. (In addition, NBC may well need Undateable free to replace Growing Up Fisher in a few weeks.)
*Note from the editors: the discussion about whether 'The Michael J Fox Show' is truly canceled is just semantics/legalese that only applies to whether/how the final 7 episodes will air. There are no semantics that get the show to renewal, so as far as predictions for the 2014-15 season go it is very clearly already canceled.
Grading CBS on a Curve
It’s a common refrain from me: CBS isn’t immune to the shrinking broadcast model of the 2010s – first Friday collapses, then Sunday collapses, then 10pm, then all new shows, so a 2.5 is a clear hit and a 2.0 is almost a guaranteed renewal. CBS is just running about five years behind the front of that curve (NBC).
So imagine my surprise when I found out CBS had won the bid to simulcast (and announce) Thursday Night Football games next season – and that they had chosen one of the smallest packages, only airing eight games on CBS. On further review though, the combination of network, scheduling, and game count makes perfect sense.
CBS is far enough behind the other networks on the (downward) curve that they don’t need to hand over part of their schedule to the NFL - yet. Instead, this limited move allows them to keep their current plans while leaving the door open to more sweeping changes:
1. Only eight games, starting in early September, means that CBS will get back to “normal” programming in November. Their Thursday shows will premiere during sweeps, delivering their (likely) highest ratings when it counts the most.
2. The Thursday shows can still easily get 22 episodes in from November through May, so syndication counts aren’t disrupted.
3. 22 episodes airing in just seven months means there will be less repeats, bringing the ratings average for all those timeslots up.
4. One show that won’t get a break is The Big Bang Theory. CBS can air new episodes of The Big Bang Theory for a couple weeks to start off their Monday schedule, then return it to Thursdays once the TNF games are over to lead-off those comedies. Those mad geniuses at CBS have finally found a way for The Big Bang Theory to be every comedy’s lead-in.
5. In an industry where “Flat Is The New Up”, the bumps from the NFL games, sweeps scheduling, and less repeats should all help bring CBS’ numbers up, shielding CBS executives from the relentless downward curve of the broadcast model.
6. Half of the TNF games still being exclusively on the NFL Network should mean few subscribers bother dropping the network just for two months, minimizing the losses on the NFL Network’s side.
7. Now that CBS has their foot in the door with part of the TNF package, if CBS continues to not develop any clear comedy hits, the nuclear option of purchasing the entire TNF slate, and rescheduling their Thursdays, remains on the table.
Given how both sides (the NFL and CBS) are ‘winning’ in their markets at the moment, in retrospect it is not a surprise they were willing to reach a limited agreement to start with. While I don’t expect any of the other networks to change their scheduling due to the agreement, what ratings changes there are should be fascinating.
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|
|The Michael J. Fox Show||NBC||Canceled|
|Sean Saves The World||NBC||Canceled|
|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 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|