Predicting the 2016-17 Ratings: NBC Veterans

After a little bit of a wait, here are my predictions for the returning NBC shows. I won't be predicting Hollywood Game Night or Dateline because we don't yet know where either will air (we know about Friday Dateline but by spring it could be on more than that). Be sure to leave your own in the comments below!

The Voice (Fall)
The Voice is replacing Pharrell and Christina Aguilera with Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus this cycle. Last fall it only posted a 7% decline for the Monday airings and 9% for Tuesday, but was weaker in the spring with a 19% decline on Monday and a 23% decline on Tuesday. Many speculate this is from the loss of the Gwen Stefani-Blake Shelton love story unfolding under the eyes of viewers. After all, the celebrity coaches have always been the focus of the show more than the contestants. This season it will likely have more competition from ABC on Tuesdays, and it will also be facing comedies on Monday now. I'll go conservative and say that the drop is somewhere in between. These percentages compare the upcoming fall cycle to the 2016 spring cycle. Also, these averages take out the post-Olympics preview.

Monday Prediction: -14% to a 2.15
Tuesday Prediction: -16% to a 1.87

Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire is the one that started it all; sure, its ratings were just OK when NBC announced a sister show, but now it's one of four; three of which are returning from the 2015-16 season and can be considered successes. It posted just a 4% decline year-to-year, but that may change now that it isn't following the compatible Chicago Med (even though Fire is a higher-rated and by all means stronger show). I expect a decline larger than 4%, but it'll still be a 10pm powerhouse.

Prediction: -8% to a 1.61

Blindspot started off as broadcast television's next big hit, but fell hard and fast. Kind of like Revolution a couple years back. Also like Revolution, it will be moving to Wednesday at 8. Revolution's season premiere started around the same rating of the season finale, and I expect that to happen to Blindspot as well, perhaps even going fractional. The 1.83 A18-49 L+SD average Blindspot boasted this season was very front-loaded, and the ratings trajectory doesn't look all that strong.

Prediction: -38% to a 1.14

Law & Order: SVU
SVU is one of those shows that just has stayed around forever. The success of the Chicago franchise probably didn't hurt the show's longevity, but it is quite an achievement to hold its own against Empire, Criminal Minds, and Modern Family. Even when it comes in 4th place in its time slot, it's still averaging numbers above the league average. With what's expected to be a lead-in and lead-out with similar ratings as last season, as well as the same competition. I'm predicting another year of stability.

Prediction: -2% to a 1.57

Chicago PD
Considering how compatible Law & Order: SVU is, Chicago PD should be fine. Designated Survivor will most likely rate higher than Nashville, so PD will have more competition, but the shows are different enough on paper so that one probably won't affect the other. And with Code Black as the other competitor, NBC shouldn't have to worry too much about being crushed by CBS Wednesday at 10.

Prediction: -3% to a 1.50

Superstore was easily the surprise of the season, and the reason why NBC is finally getting back into workplace comedies (more on that here). In fact, Superstore may be the start of the network getting back into the comedy business. I mean, they've tried, but when your longest-running comedy currently on the air has aired a whole 19 episodes with the recent finale scoring a 0.4 in the key demo, you know you're not in the best shape. Superstore's main hurdle will be its time slot; Thursday at 8, going against football and then The Big Bang Theory. The comedies should be different enough to co-exist, but unfortunately NBC doesn't have a big hit comedy that they can use to nurture Superstore. Could it see a sophomore surge like The Office did? Possibly. It has a chance to remain NBC's #1 comedy, which will be saying more in the 2016-17 season than in the 2015-16 one, but I don't expect to see a breakout hit. Not counting the post-Olympics episode, here's my prediction:

Prediction: -11% to a 1.31

Chicago Med
Chicago Med is moving to Thursday at 9pm, something I don't think many of us average people expected. It could see a boost from people watching Grey's Anatomy who then decide to turn on this Chicago series that was largely inspired by Grey's and E.R., or it could get crushed by two-hour specials of Grey's. Last season it was sandwiched between the high-rated Voice and the compatible Chicago Fire; this season it will be going against OK-rated CBS comedies, an unpredictable Pitch, and eventually an OK-rated Scandal. It'll take a bigger drop than the other Dick Wolf shows, but should do well enough for a renewal and to be considered a decent occupant of the time slot.

Prediction: -20% to a 1.37

The Blacklist
In my stressful drop as a fantasy scheduler, I had briefly considered moving The Blacklist to 10pm on a night where Little Big Shots would lead into a comedy block consisting of Superstore and a new comedy. But then that Blacklist spin-off was in the works and Shades of Blue looked more and more plausible to make the fall schedule, and I backed away from that idea. When I saw the schedule of Chicago Med at 9pm followed by The Blacklist at 10pm, I was confused, considering I'm by and large an advocate of moving as few veteran shows as possible. Why not just plug Med in at 10pm and let The Blacklist be? Simply put it seems that NBC trusts Chicago Med to be able to anchor a night and see it more of a long-term player for the network than The Blacklist, which was down 40% this season. Though The Blacklist should see a stronger lead-in now, the move to 10pm may cancel that out. I think it could possibly win the 10pm time slot, and be down a little less than Chicago Med, but nothing to write home about.

Prediction: -17% to a 1.18

Grimm, NBC's lowest-rated returning scripted series, made the fall schedule for what's likely to be its final season. The hype for this show seems to be gone, and it won't get the benefit of airing after a higher-rated show considering its lead-in is Caught on Camera, which averaged a 0.7 this season. Even if they market this as a final season, I don't see people coming back, especially considering that people don't seem to feel the need to catch up by watching it in syndication.

Prediction: -21% to a 0.70

Shades of Blue
Shades of Blue truly impressed on a few levels; it grew from its lead-in on most occasions, improved the time slot from past occupants, and had steady ratings. The asterisk here is that the steady ratings weren't exactly steady as in good, but more like steady as in mediocre. Of its 13 episodes, the last 9 had either a 1.0 or a 1.1 rating. Think Forever on ABC, though Shades of Blue actually got renewed. But perhaps the most impressive statistic was that it would often double its ratings when DVR numbers were accounted for. It will air its second season in the heavily-DVRd Sunday at 10pm time slot, though on the bright side it will be sharing a night with Little Big Shots and Chicago Justice. I think it'll be a successful time slot switch.

Prediction: -6% to a 1.10. Which yes, wins the time slot.

Little Big Shots
What started out as a huge hit ended up as just a regular hit, settling around a 1.7 A18-49 rating. Steve Harvey really is a ratings magnet nowadays, but this is the kind of show where the novelty could wear off fast. A plus factor is that it has no reality competition in the time period. It's smart of them not to overexpose it. This prediction will look terribly pessimistic, though remember that it only aired 9 episodes and has a front-loaded average of a 2.09 (first two episodes averaged a 2.9).

Prediction: -27% to a 1.50

Caught on Camera
Nobody expected this one to make the fall schedule, and many speculate that negotiations fell through on a potential third season of The Mysteries of Laura, so they just plugged this one in to show there wasn't much of a Plan B. It's basically their lowest-rated reality show, as well as their lowest-rated renewal in general. There's not much room for it to go down, and considering it keeps the same time slot I don't think the year-to-year trajectory will look overly bad. The ratings will, though.

Prediction: -7% to a 0.66

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