October 7, 2013



So… how’s it going?

We’ve completed 2 full weeks of the 2013-14 broadcast TV season, and while there are still a few arrivals on the way (notably ABC’s Once Upon A Time in Wonderland and the NBC Friday line-up), we’ve seen enough to reach some early conclusions.  Let’s take a look.

First, the big picture:

Year To Year Comparison

Network  2013/14  2012/13  Change
NBC 2.90 2.80 +3.5%
CBS 2.34 2.37 -1.1%
ABC 2.19 2.11 +3.7%
FOX 1.91 2.32 -17.8%





2013/14 Weekly Comparison

Network  Week 2  Week 1  Change
NBC 2.73 3.07 -11.1%
CBS 2.44 2.25 +8.4%
ABC 2.07 2.31 -10.4%
FOX 1.74 2.08 -16.4%





Here’s what’s happening night-by-night:


Winners:  NBC, FOX

Loser:  CBS

First Pick-Ups:  Sleepy Hollow (2014/15 renewal), The Blacklist

Likely To Die:  We Are Men, Hostages

NBC will own Mondays as long as The Voice is The Voice, and while The Blacklist took a bit of a tumble last week, it seems built for the long-haul much better than last year’s Revolution.  FOX has a bona fide hit with Sleepy Hollow.  CBS is in all kinds of trouble, with its only solid hit the soon-to-be-gone How I Met Your Mother, and increasingly mediocre returns from 2 Broke Girls–none of its three newcomers look strong, although Mom will probably last longest.  ABC hoped that reducing Dancing With the Stars to one night per week would strengthen it on Mondays, but it hasn’t been working that way–Castle, though, is holding up well.


Winners:  NBC, ABC

Losers:  ABC, CBS, FOX

Likely to Survive:  Agents of SHIELD

Likely To Die:  Dads, Trophy Wife (Lucky 7 Already Canceled)

Agents of SHIELD fell steeply in its second airing, and it’s likely to go down some more–nevertheless, it’s still a marked improvement for ABC in its hour, so it has to be considered a win; if it goes down much farther, though, it may take The Goldbergs with it, and Trophy Wife is already hanging by a thread.  NBC bet that giving Chicago Fire a weekly lead-in from The Voice would make it a firm hit, and so far it’s worked.  In comparison, CBS hoped that a double-barreled NCIS lead-in would power Person Of Interest on its new night, and that hasn’t played out so well.  FOX may have to seriously rethink its 4-sitcom Tuesday strategy, as New Girl is just a shadow of where it was 2 seasons ago, Dads looks like a dead loss, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project aren’t faring much better.


Winner:  ????

Loser:  NBC

Likely To Survive:  Super Fun Night (for now)

Likely To Die:  Ironside

This is where the gravy train stops for NBC:  Revolution is hitting series lows (and it hasn’t even faced a new Arrow yet), SVU had a false positive in its season premiere (resolving a big cliffhanger) and is now looking very creaky again, and Ironside is flopping with both older and younger viewers, the “what were they thinking/drinking/smoking?” series order of the season.  ABC is looking at a Modern Family in steady decline, and while it’s still a major success, its shrinkage hurts the network’s whole night; Back In the Game is doing nothing with the post-Middle slot, Super Fun Night premiered OK but may be due for a big drop this week, and Nashville got no benefit from summer binge-watching.  FOX is bleeding as The X Factor falls from significant hit to so-so performer.  CBS is doing reasonably well with its old, old line-up, but they’re not going to last forever.


Winner:  ABC, CBS

Losers:  NBC, CBS, FOX and NBC some more

Likely To Survive:  The Crazy Ones

Likely to Die:  The Millers, Welcome To the Family, Sean Saves the World

Shonda Rhimes is ABC‘s all-star; Scandal is a genuine phenomenon, and while Grey’s Anatomy isn’t the smash it was, it’s still a winner after 10 years on the air–but Once Upon A Time In Wonderland is a big risk at 8PM.  CBS is king of the world with The Big Bang Theory, the last great network comedy blockbuster, but The Millers lost a big chunk of that lead-in (and is likely to keep going down), The Crazy Ones is winning its slot but not in a breakout way, and the network is paying a fortune for a mid-level rating from 2 1/2 Men; Elementary is respectable at 10PM.  FOX has the same X Factor problem repeating on Thursday, and Glee is starting to run on fumes (although it’s still valuable for its iTunes music sales).  NBC is flat-out wretched, having sunk tens of millions in The Michael J. Fox Show to get a sub-2 rating, and with Welcome To The Family and Sean Saves the World showing zero signs of life; considering the giant competition at 10PM, Parenthood‘s numbers aren’t as weak as they look.


Winner/Loser/Likely To Survive/Likely To Die:  TBD

With NBC and FOX not yet in full season mode, there’s not much to be said about Fridays yet, except that neither The Neighbors on ABC nor Hawaii 5-0 on CBS is giving the networks what they’d hoped from those moves.


Winner:  NBC

Losers:  ABC, FOX

Well, yeah, football.  The other networks are in danger of letting Sundays slip to cable.  ABC can be relieved that Once Upon A Time seems to have ended its tailspin, but that hugely valuable franchise is still faltering, while Revenge is sinking fast and Betrayal won’t last much longer.  CBS and FOX are both loaded with veteran shows that keep the lights on but without much illumination–Family Guy, in particular, while still a big number, is getting hammered compared to last year.


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."