May 21, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15: SHOWBUZZDAILY’s Fearless Fall Ratings Predictions – Thursday


Thursdays are going to look very different next season, so let’s jump right into our very early fall ratings predictions.  We’ve already taken a look at Monday,  Tuesday, and Wednesday, and as before, our predictions cover the September 22-December 7 period when all the networks are running fresh episodes of just about all their shows.  Our outlook on the new series is based on the auspices of each and the trailers that have been released to date.

As everyone knows, CBS has gotten into the primetime football business, with 5 weeks of in-season Thursday Night Football on the way (there are also a few games that precede the start of the network season) that will change the landscape of the night.  As we did with Mondays, we’ve broken out the CBS ratings for those opening 5 weeks vs. the weeks that will follow.  Here we go:

Thursday Fall 2014 Estimates and 2013 Actuals

CBS:  It’s no surprise that THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL will dominate the night when it airs.  We don’t expect the Thursday games to do as well as NBC’s Sunday franchise (partly because they’ll be simulcast on NFL Network), but they should be at least as strong as the Monday games on ESPN, and they’ll certainly swamp the ratings NFL Network had on its own.  (Which will accomplish the league’s overall strategy with this 1-year deal, whetting the broadcast networks’ appetite for a much bigger and longer Thursday deal beginning in Fall 2015.)  We don’t think the football games will do all that much damage to the other networks–ABC and CW, for example, target different audiences–and we also don’t think CBS’s Thursday will continue to be up once the games are done (just as post-football Sundays go back to being apocalyptic for NBC once spring arrives).  THE BIG BANG THEORY will continue to own the 8PM slot, down just a bit for standard erosion, and as Big Bang goes, so goes THE MILLERS2 1/2 MEN, in its final season, should continue likewise.  CBS’s sole new sitcom of the fall, THE MCCARTHYS, doesn’t look very good, but it has a strong lead-in and miniscule comedy competition, so it should hold its own, albeit at a level that will make its long-term survival questionable. ELEMENTARY will have slightly softer competition on its side than it faced last fall, but isn’t likely to gain ground.

ABC:  The network recently reupped its deal with Shonda Rhimes for 4 additional years, and however many tens of millions it’s paying the proprietor of Shonaland, it’s worth the price.  Rhimes controls the entire Thursday primetime schedule for ABC, and should do so strongly.  GREY’S ANATOMY may be past its heyday, but it still packs a potent rating that won’t be damaged too much by the move to 8PM.  SCANDAL is a phenomenon, and the 9PM slot should help lessen any standard erosion.  Rhimes’s new series HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER looks like it’s exactly what her fans want, a different twist on her formula (set in a courtroom context) and with Viola Davis in the lead, and if it falters at 10PM it will have no excuses.

NBC:  Unfortunately, our crystal ball doesn’t have reception strong enough to predict the really fun Thursday match-up that won’t begin until February 2015, when The Blacklist faces off against Scandal (although Spoiler Alert:  we don’t see it going well for The Blacklist).  The fall will be much less exciting for NBC.  THE BIGGEST LOSER is an elderly but reliable performer that should keep the lights on at 8PM and provide a decent lead-in for BAD JUDGE, which at least has a promotable concept and a bit of name value in Kate Walsh.  A TO Z, the rom-com that follows, looks like it’s heavily influenced by How I Met Your Mother (including the casting of The Mother as the female lead) that seems like a bad mix with its more boisterous lead-in.  PARENTHOOD will go quietly through its final 13 episodes.

FOX:  BONES has been stalwart for FOX, and in the unenviable spot of competing with football and Big Bang, it should do OK.  However, the grim child-murder drama GRACEPOINT has multiple strikes against it:  it’s heavily serialized, which means that if people don’t watch the first episode against NFL football they’re unlikely ever to start, it airs against Scandal, it has little star power with David Tennant and Anna Gunn in the leads, and have we mentioned how grim it is?

CW:  The ratings for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES took a somewhat troubling dip in the latter part of this past season.  However, the series ended with a giant cliffhanger that should keep its remaining fans loyal.  REIGN should continue to retain a fair, if not rousing, amount of the Vampire audience.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."