Hey networks! Apparently you guys are asleep at the wheel, because it's October 23 and none of you jackasses have canceled a single show. Perhaps you're so stunned by evidence that suggests axing everything that you're paralyzed and can't make a decision? Well, take a Xanax and pound some Sleepytime Tea so we can settle down and look at some numbers together. As a follow-up to our recent look at how this fall's new shows are doing in the ratings, I've pulled out my abacus once again to inspect the performance of all the freshmen series that've debuted since the last time we studied the topic. The numbers don't lie: Most of these shows should be canceled! But since the broadcast networks don't seem to have much in the way of backup plans or alternatives, it's possible they'll stick around for awhile.
Editors' Note: Everything I've written below is based on overnight ratings; DVR usage, online streaming, and on-demand viewings were not included. While many networks are now taking those extra stats into account, overnight ratings still rule.
The hard numbers: Debuted with 2.3 million viewers and a 1.0 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic, finished its second episode with 2.19 million viewers and a 1.1 rating, and earned 2.34 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in its third week. All were worsts for the timeslot.
The analysis: I guess the good news is that
Mulaney may've already bottomed out, since its third episode achieved the young series' best results to date (but just barely). Typically, shows see their best numbers right off the bat, so who knows? Maybe
Mulaney is actually on its way to the top! Or more likely,
Mulaney's bottom was already so low—its debut ratings were the worst of any new show so far this season—that it didn't have much further to fall. It's losing more than half of its
Family Guy lead-in, a stat that's even more telling. So what's the problem? Is it the show's dubious quality, or is it Fox's Sunday scheduling of an animated show (
The Simpsons), a single-camera live-action comedy (
Brooklyn Nine-Nine), another animated show (
Family Guy), and then a multi-cam sitcom (
Mulaney)? It's like Fox did everything it could to challenge
Mulaney right from the get-go.
The future: There's already a slow-swelling backlash to the
Mulaney backlash, but the chances that the show will grow considerably are so slim that it's probably best to jump on the backlash-to-the-backlash-to-the-backlash bandwagon. Fox has already trimmed the show's episode order from 16 to 13, and that cut probably would've been more severe if the show didn't already have 13 episodes produced. It should be canceled, and soon, unless Fox is comfortable riding out all 13 episodes. But we all know a
Family Guy repeat would do better than a
Jane the Virgin
The hard numbers: Debuted to 1.61 million viewers and a 0.6 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, and followed that up with 1.36 million viewers and a 0.5 rating in its second episode.
The analysis: Early reports suggested that
Jane was growing in both total viewers and the 18-to-49 demographic, but that changed once final ratings were adjusted for Monday Night Football overrun in certain markets. Boo! Now the show's numbers aren't looking that great, even though the drop-off wasn't that big—losing a full percentage point in the ratings after starting with a 0.6 is relatively serious.
Jane needs lots of word of mouth to keep viewers (or even add new ones), but that hasn't come yet.
The future: Obviously
Jane doesn't face the same expectations as The CW's other new fall drama,
The Flash, so the network probably got the numbers it wanted from the pilot. At the very least, execs were content enough after Episode 2 to give the show a full-season pickup. With its non-genre status and daring premise,
Jane seems more like a CW pet project than a solid business decision, so the network might be a little more lenient when it comes to deciding whether to order a second season.
Jane won't be a hit, but it has critics talking, it features a likable star in Gina Rodriguez, and it could be a modest little show for a network that's evolving and welcoming change.
The hard numbers: The comedy debuted with 5.84 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the 18-to-49 demo. That was followed by 5.24 million/1.3 and 4.68 million/1.2, putting the show in third place, behind
Thursday Night Football and
Scandal and ahead of the barely watched
Gracepoint and the season's lowest-rated series,
The analysis: As part of a one-hour comedy block that's sandwiched between a tired reality show (
The Biggest Loser) and great-but-dwindling (
Parenthood), these low numbers were expected, so congratulations on meeting the expectations of Mustn't See TV,
The future: Kate Walsh has a future, but this show does not. It'll either be canceled or left to rot and die so as not to upset producers Will Ferrell and Anne Heche.
The hard numbers: Overall viewers for Episodes 1 through 4, respectively: 5.31 million, 3.77 million, 3.44 million, 3.82 million. Ratings in the 18-to-49 demo, same direction: 1.6, 1.1, 1.0, 1.1.
Selfie is finishing fourth in its time period (way, way behind
The Voice, and considerably behind
The Flash), which puts in in last place behind everything that isn't a repeat.
The analysis: This is pretty typical erosion for a new comedy that's on its way out, and
Selfie's numbers will continue to slide until it hits bottom somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0. It's a wonder that ABC still tries to launch comedies on Tuesday nights given all the ratings disasters it's scheduled there (
The Goldbergs is now a thankful exception which has since moved on to Wednesdays); this year's Tuesday-night sacrifices are ABC's worst in years.
The future: Why don't you take a picture and post it to Instagram? It will last longer.
Manhattan Love Story
The hard numbers: Overall viewers for Episodes 1 through 4, respectively: 4.70 million, 3.03 million, 2.87 million, 2.62 million. Ratings in the 18-to-49 demo for Episodes 1 through 4, respectively: 1.5, 0.9, 0.9, 0.7.
The analysis: It's
Selfie, but worse, which makes sense since it airs right after
Selfie and the second half of an hour-long comedy block almost always loses audience. Well, that and it's been the subject of many a negative review. There's nothing really positive to say here, so see if you can read my thoughts... *It's boned. I want a ham sandwich.*
The future: It'll be "boy meets girl, boy woos girl, boy and girl meet cancellation."
Manhattan Love Story is a goner, it's just a matter of ABC figuring out what to replace it with.
The hard numbers: The
Arrow spin-off debuted with 4.83 million viewers and a 1.9 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, a distant third behind
The Voice, which isn't anything to be embarrassed about. Episode 2 tallied 4.27 million/1.7, and Episode 3 notched 3.59 million/1.5.
The Flash was looking like a runaway (ha!) hit for The CW after the first episode, when it became the network's highest-rated series premiere since
The Vampire Diaries debuted in 2009. And though the viewer erosion through three episodes looks frightening, don't worry,
Flash Mob (that's what you call yourselves, right?): The same thing happened to the first three episodes of all the network's biggest hits (
The Vampire Diaries and
Arrow). It's safe!
The future: The CW already ordered a full season of
The Flash, and if history holds up, which it should, it will be ordering a second season lightning-quick, too.
The hard numbers: Only two episodes have aired so far, with the premiere drawing 7.54 million viewers (second place in its time period behind
NCIS: Big Easy) and Episode 2 pulling in 5.61 million. As for 18-to-49 demo ratings, it began with a 2.3 (barely first place by a tenth) and grabbed a 1.8 in Episode 2.
The analysis: Before you get too excited, remember that
Marry Me is wedded to
The Voice on Tuesday nights, which accounts for the premiere's first-place finish. And apparently many of the people who tuned in for the pilot decided that one date with
Marry Me was enough, because Episode 2 lost a sizable chunk of its
Voice lead-in, with more than half of the near-12 million who watched the singing show changing the channel when it was over.
Marry Me will continue to enjoy bloated numbers as long as it airs behind
The Voice, but we all know what's really going on.
The future: Eventually
Marry Me will find itself without a
Voice boost, and the honeymoon will be over. It'll be hard for NBC to justify a full-season order if this continues. But as always, it might squeak by in another round of "What else does NBC have?" and live longer than it should (see:
About a Boy). Next: Page 2, featuring
A to Z,
Cristela, plus updates on
How to Get Away With Murder, and more (Continued from Page 1)
The hard numbers: A debut of 9.05 million overall viewers, followed by 8.17 million in Episode 2, 7.87 million in Episode 3, and 7.37 million in Episode 4. In the 18-to-49 demo, the pilot stalked a 2.0 rating, followed by a 1.7, a 1.7, and a 1.7. Those numbers were good enough for a first-place finish in the time period, but the gap between
Stalker and second-place
Chicago P.D. has been narrowing each week, and trends so far suggest that it will fall to second place within a few weeks.
Stalker held up much better than I thought it would since it's (opinion incoming!) arguably one of the most exploitative and shallow new series of the season, but in the world of CBS, its performance is merely decent. It's retaining a lot of its
Criminal Minds audience, though, and the numbers suggest that it's already hit its bottom at a respectful 1.7 rating, so maybe that counts for something?
The future: It's always more difficult to predict television decisions through the lens of CBS, but consider this: Of the Top 25 most-watched shows on the broadcast networks last week, 14 of them belonged to CBS, and
Stalker wasn't one of them. Would you be eager to order more episodes when you could roll out a
Big Bang Theory repeat that did better?
Stalker has a shot at sticking around, but it's a small one.
A to Z
The hard numbers: It began with 4.79 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-to-49 demo. Episodes 2 and 3 drew 3.63 million/1.0 and 3.37 million/1.0, respectively. Those are better ratings than
Gracepoint's but with a lower audience, giving
A to Z a "thirth/fourd" finish on the night.
The analysis: Pretty lousy! But just like with
Bad Judge, as predictable as the morning sun. Should you need a comparison,
A to Z's ratings are pretty much on-par with what
Sean Saves the World achieved last year.
The future: Andrew and Zelda might live a long, happy life together, but it'll happen off camera.
A to Z's writers oughta start writing that series-finale epilogue for Episode 6!
The hard numbers:
Gracepoint's first episode pulled in 4.76 million viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-to-49 demo. The ratings for the series' next two episodes went a little something like this: 3.8 million/0.9 and 3.7 million/0.8.
The analysis: Sorry to sound compassionless, but this is deader than the kid whose murder
Gracepoint is investigating. Thankfully, the low-rated
Reign is around to provide it with a solid floor. By way of comparison, the U.K. series that
Gracepoint is based on,
, pulled in twice as many viewers as the
Gracepoint premiere despite airing in a region with a fraction of the population.
The future: Given its closed-ended structure and the way it's been billed as a limited-event series, there's a decent chance that Fox will let
Gracepoint ride out its season for closure.
Broadchurch is getting a second season in the U.K., while
Gracepoint will be one and done. But honestly, its fate was sealed when Fox decided to remake a British hit that'd already aired on BBC America. This kind of outing could also spell doom for Fox's big strategy of limited-event series, too.
The hard numbers: 6.51 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the 18-to-49 demo for its series debut, which was tops for its time period (it was up against repeats on The CW and NBC, but it beat
The Amazing Race and
). There was a very small dip in Week 2, down to 5.99 million viewers and a 1.2 rating, putting it second behind
The Amazing Race.
The analysis: Cristela Alonzo owes Tim Allen a high five because her show is retaining nearly all of the
Last Man Standing crowd, which is bigger than you might expect on a Friday night. And let's not forget that expectations for Friday shows live in the sewers, so
Cristela's ratings are totally fine. If you're ABC, you're pleasantly surprised with the show.
The future: It's hard to imagine
Cristela breaking into the mid-week schedule because ABC has made a habit of putting its multi-cam comedies on Fridays (
Last Man Standing,
Malibu Country), where there's no comedy competition (except for The CW's
Whose Line Is It Anyway?). Whether ABC renews the show or cancels it will largely depend on the network's strategy for Fridays moving forward.
Cristela is a good problem to have so far, because it isn't burning down the building on Fridays and critics don't seem to mind it. Plus, if ABC wants to continue being the most diverse network on television, keeping
Cristela around is a good plan.
But what Gotham? Or How to Get Away With Murder? Or any of the other shows you checked in on last time?
Glad you asked! Here's an update:
Gotham Since debuting with an impressive 8.21 million viewers and a 3.2 rating in the 18-to-49 demo,
Gotham has predictably slipped, albeit slowly. I know lots of you are interested in this show in particular, so let's run down the numbers: Episode 2: 7.45 million/2.8 | Episode 3: 6.36 million/2.5 | Episode 4: 6.39 million/2.4 | Episode 5: 6.09 million/2.3 That's in line with my prediction that the show would settle into about 5 million viewers and a low-2s rating, but the show's performance has remained strong enough for Fox to order a full season. There will be more sliding, but the show isn't in any danger, and out of all of Fox's new shows, it's got the best chance of geting a second season.
Forever After premiering with 8.59 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, the ABC procedural fell pretty hard and bottomed out in Episode 5 with 4.81 million viewers and a 1.1 rating. It rebounded ever-so-slightly in Episode 6 (up to a 1.2), but is still very much in my prediction range of low-1s ratings. Don't expect to see this on next fall's schedule.
How to Get Away With Murder The biggest new show of the season has held up pretty well since it debuted to 14.12 million viewers and a 3.8 rating, with last week's fourth (and most recent) episode drawing 9.79 million viewers and a 2.8 rating. The good news? That translated to almost 100-percent retention from its
Scandal lead-in, which posted 9.90 million viewers and a 2.9 rating. It also outperformed
Grey's Anatomy's 8.43 million and 2.4 rating. ABC has already ordered a full season of
HTGAWM and is probably already drooling over a Season 2.
Scorpion The Action Nerds survived their first real test earlier this week when they aired first episode without a
Big Bang Theory lead-in because
The Millers returned for Season 2. While
The Millers predictably didn't draw as large of an audience as
Scorpion's numbers (10.75 million viewers/2.4) for its fifth episode remained nearly flat with the tallies for its fourth, and actually improved considerably on what
The Millers delivered. Translation: viewers are actually coming back to
Scorpion. That's much better than what I predicted, and Good enough to be a Top 20 show for the week. This should receive a full-season order pretty soon, and it has a good shot at Season 2.
Red Band Society Things started off bad (4.1 million viewers and a 1.3 rating) and they've only gotten worse. Episode 4 sunk to 2.92 million viewers and a 0.9 rating—a performance that's worthy of cancellation. However, Fox still ordered four more scripts as though it's thinking of ordering more episodes.
Red Band's prognosis should be terminal, but Fox's disastrous fall season may save it.
Madam Secretary After scoring a 2.0 rating in its debut, Tea Leoni's political drama has remained awfully steady with a string of 1.4s interrupted by a 1.6 (possibly because of football overrun) and a total audience of between 11.45 and 12.72 million viewers in the four episodes since its premiere. That kind of steadiness out the gate is rare and appreciated, but are those numbers high enough for CBS? The network has held on to its lead-in from
The Good Wife, which is posting similar numbers, but that show is in its sixth season and is frequently recognized come awards time. I doubt CBS will keep
Madam Secretary around past the spring when the show's future isn't that much better than its present.
Black-ish Yes, it's cooled off from its start of 11 million viewers and a 3.3 rating, but this week's episode still tallied almost 8 million viewers and a 2.4. That makes it a Top 20 show in the ratings, and a decent pairing for
Modern Family. ABC already ordered a full season, and I won't be surprised if it lives to see Season 2.
The Mysteries of Laura Debra Messing's mom-cop procedural is still bringing in the total viewers; 8.25 million people watched Wednesday's episode, the series' sixth. But the 18-to-49 demo ratings were on the low side, notching a measly 1.3. That was good for third place in
Laura's time period (when the World Series isn't on) but disproportionate with regard to its total viewers. For comparison's sake:
The Goldbergs had a more than a million less viewers, but put up a better 2.3 rating in the 18-to-49 demo. I wouldn't be surprised if NBC ordered a full season of
Laura given its decision-making track record (remember
Harry's Law?), but this is a case when it does make sense to cancel a show even though it's pulling in respectable audience numbers.
NCIS: New Orleans The Big Easy edition of the stalwart CBS franchise is doing what any iteration of
NCIS does: grabbing huge audiences. It's averaging more than 16 million viewers after five episodes, the highest of any of this fall's new shows. But it's also doing something else that any iteration of
NCIS does: not delivering high ratings in the 18-to-49 demo relative to its overall audience, with this week's episode scoring a 2.2. All my predictions hold true, it's doing well enough to earn a full season, but it probably won't join Original Recipe
NCIS: Los Angeles in enjoying an extended run on CBS.
Utopia This show is still on! Can you believe it? After several low-rated outings while airing twice a week format, Fox cut the reality show's weekly airings in half and decided that Friday was the best place for it to air. But that hasn't helped, nor have various format changes. In recent weeks,
Utopia has been delivering less than 2 million viewers and throwing up a paltry 0.7 rating. Fox clearly isn't ready to admit that its "social experiment" is a catastrophe given how much the network invested in it, but I'm here to let Fox know that it's okay to cancel it.
What are your short- and long-term predictions based on the latest ratings for the new fall slate? How's your Dead Pool looking? At this point, which new show do you think will be the first to fall?