May 19, 2014

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


Last week, the glamorous part of the network “Upfronts” took place, largely for viewer and media purposes:  hordes of new shows were announced, stars were trotted out, executives madly spun this past season’s numbers so that every decline looked like a triumph, gala parties were held.  This week, however, the real Upfronts kick into gear and will continue for the next several weeks if not months, as those same networks try to convince advertisers to shell out top dollar for their shiny new schedules.  It’s an increasingly dicey proposition in a world where competition constantly intensifies and ratings dip.  As part of that process, the networks and advertisers will all be doing their own estimates of what the fall ratings landscape will look like.  And we’re doing the same at SHOWBUZZDAILY, running our fearless (perhaps reckless) projections and analysis of the Fall 2014 broadcast season throughout this week.

A few groundrules:  when we say “fall,” we mean the 11-week period starting on September 22 and running until December 7.  (After that, the networks start loading their schedules with reruns and holiday specials, skewing the results.)  We’ve only seen the trailers for the new fall shows, not the full pilots, so we reserve the right to change our minds for better or worse once we know how fairly those shows have been represented by network marketing.  We have no way of knowing at this point whether networks will stunt their premieres, running them before or after the official start of the season, which could change their averages–as well as any other clever scheduling tricks they might have up their sleeves.  For consistency’s sake, we’re pretending that FOX doesn’t interrupt its fall for baseball playoffs.

All that being said, here’s how we see the fall’s very tricky new Monday:

Monday Fall 2014 Estimates and 2013 Actuals

CBS:  There are really two distinct species of Mondays this fall.  CBS has announced that because it will air NFL Football on Thursdays for the first 5 weeks of the season (and a few weeks prior to that), it will kick off the fall by putting THE BIG BANG THEORY into the 8PM Monday slot, switching to 2 BROKE GIRLS in November.  Big Bang will absolutely crush its competition during the weeks that it kicks off Mondays, and there will be a ripple effect throughout its night, so we’ve broken out the Sept/Oct CBS averages from Nov/Dec.  (The other network averages take the split into account, although especially in the 8PM hour, their ratings will be lower in the early part of the season.)  However, we don’t think Big Bang will cause a lasting effect on CBS’s Monday.  2 BROKE GIRLS will have a hard time opening the night when its turn comes, and without a Big Bang lead-in, MOM will decline modestly from its average last fall.  Once Big Bang has vanished, we also don’t see the new splashy but familiar high-tech procedural SCORPION having much impact against the heavy competition of The Voice and Sleepy HollowNCIS LA should give a big boost to the 10PM hour (although it won’t do quite as well as it had on Tuesdays with mothership NCIS as its lead-in).  Of course, that’s not much of an achievement, given that Hostages and Intelligence were DOA last season, but it should be enough to make for a tighter 3-network race.  Overall, CBS will be up a bit from last fall, off-setting its loss of How I Met Your Mother with its Big Bang fix, but the lift will be temporary.

NBC:  One of the underreported stories of the current season is the fact that while THE VOICE now towers over American Idol in the singing competition field, its own ratings have been hammered this spring.  We think it’ll bounce back… to an extent, still down about 17-18% from last fall.  The lower lead-in and stronger competition from CBS will dent THE BLACKLIST, and although it will still easily win the hour, it may be somewhat damaged goods by the time it heads to Thursdays in February as the linchpin of NBC’s strategy to boost that night.  NBC’s Monday will remain strong (well, at least until the Katherine Heigl vehicle STATE OF AFFAIRS arrives in late November), but it won’t be quite the miracle that it was last fall.

FOX:  We’re bullish on GOTHAM, the new Batman prequel, and we particularly like its pairing with the hit SLEEPY HOLLOW.  We think that can be a consistent and successful night for FOX, which desperately needs one.  Sleepy Hollow, which ended its season with a variety of strong cliffhangers, should itself suffer just normal Year 2 erosion.

CW:  There’s little question that THE ORIGINALS will give the 8PM hour a huge upgrade over last year’s struggling (though amazingly not-canceled) Beauty & The Beast.  Originals opened up Tuesdays last fall, and should have no trouble doing the same on Mondays (although it’ll face some fairly direct competition from FOX).  We don’t get the placement of the new JANE THE VIRGIN after Originals, since what we’ve seen so far suggests an Ugly Betty wannabe that has no tonal similarities with its lead-in.  Although it’s never safe to predict cancellations at CW (see:  Beauty & the Beast), Jane may not be long for the schedule.

ABC:  The pairing of DANCING WITH THE STARS and CASTLE remains in place, and as their audience ages, they’ll continue their moderate decline, barring an exciting breakout contestant on the fall’s cycle of Dancing.

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."