2017-18 Week 3 Sitcom Scorecard -- Initial Predictions Are Made For Renewals

Written Grateful Phoenix Powers Solar Calculators by Bridger Cunningham

Image result for tina fey great newsAfter 2-4 showings of data, The Sitcom Scorecard has made its first predictions for sitcom renewal vs. cancellation, ranging from 20-100% renewal odds.  Criteria to evaluate the odds holds a delicate balance between Nielsen performance (the largest factor), In-House or Outsourced productions (large factor), scheduling needs, retention and episode counts to reach the syndication/streaming line (the smallest factor).  These calculations are subject to change, and most will change as the season progresses.

Sunday evening enjoyed generous helpings of FOX's favorite banquet, Football Inflation.  Bob's Burgers took the evening off due to tight scheduling, leaving the Simpsons to enjoy a healthy boost to a 2.2 demo, up 57% from last week's 1.4 entry.  This extreme boost also powered the show from an 11th Place tie in the Middle of the Pack to 5th Place the leading classification.  Ghosted matched last week's 1.4, retaining 63% of its rich lead-in (Son of Zorn retained 59% last year with a 1.6).  Family Guy ticked up a tenth to a 1.4, a disappointing gain considering the same showing last year garnered a 1.7.  And Last Man On Earth gained one tenth as well.  However, LMOE's rooting value is it is holding steady against an overall trend of network erosion.

CBS Mondays exhibited heavy losses on October 9 as The Big Bang Theory lost three tenths and landed at 2.9, down from last year's 3.5 registry for the 10th season's 3rd episode.  Shall we have a moment of silence?  Nahh....  The show is beyond healthy in its 11th season.  9JKL dropped two-tenths as well, landing at a dismal 1.4.  This is troubling, as the show is 36% lower than Kevin Can Wait's 2.2 in the same 8:30 timeslot on 10/10/2016.  9JKL retained 48% of TBBT's lead-in, whereas KCW heralded an impressive 63%.  Speaking of KCW, it delivered a disappointing 1.2, down one tenth from last week and down 14% from 2 Broke Girls' performance in the same 9:00 timeslot one year earlier.  Me, Myself & I dropped below the 1.0 line with a 0.9, matching The Odd Couple's same delivery in the 9:30 timeslot the year before.  Before declaring this show dead, please note MM&I's retention was 75% vs. TOC's 64%.

Tuesday October 10 delivered softer ratings for the six shows over ABC and FOX.  The Middle held strong with a 1.4, only shedding one tenth.  A pity this show is on its way out, as Fresh Off the Boat fell three tenths from last week's showing to a 1.1.  Blackish retained a modest portion of its debut rating with a 1.3, tying for 2nd place in its respective timeslot.  And The Mayor polled a 1.0, down 20% from its debut rating, though up 10% from last year's showing of The Real O'Neals' 0.9.  FOX remained screwed into 4th place for both of its showings as The Mick dropped a tenth to 0.8, and Brooklyn 99 made a mild bump a tenth with a 0.7.

ABC Wednesdays appear to be losing steam, with only American Housewife holding steady at 1.4 on October 10.  The Goldbergs (1.5) and Modern Family (1.8) each dropped a tenth, and Speechless' alarming freefall tied its series low 1.1 with a two-tenth drop.  A disappointment, as this is one of ABC's most lucrative timeslots.  Thursday, October 12 proved successful for NBC with slight losses.  Superstore ticked down to a 1.1, The Good Place posted a decent 1.2, Will and Grace retained 90% of their previous week's helpings with a 1.8 and Great News held steady at a 1.0.


Before breaking down the calculations, the first error of the season has occurred in the Sitcom Scorecard, as Bob's Burgers had a shiny green "RENEWED" label attached.  This has been stripped in place of a purple "TBD" label, as only one showing is available for data.  Also, Brooklyn 99's episode count was off by 2 episodes.  Noticeable changes from Week 2's scorecard is an accelerated need to amend the entry deltas in each classification.  Both Leading the Pack and The Middle of the Pack's entries were relaxed a tenth (1.45 for Leading, 1.20 for Middle) as averages dropped faster than anticipated.  Either way, TVRG is letting its cherry rip on a ripe sitcom season.


Currently, Fresh Off The Boat resides alone in this category as it will hold 82+ episodes by May 2018.  It has been bashed and abused around the ABC schedule since 2015 with 7 timeslot changes and proved its sturdy value last spring as it retained its viewers while nearly all sitcoms suffered devastating spring ratings.  And The Middle's final season announcement leaves a demand for a replacement on ABC's newly established comedy evening.  FOTB is outsourced, but would ABC really ax a show this durable when The Mayor ranks below and Speechless is exhibiting a Nielsen drop?  Not impossible as Channing Dugney runs the network, but foolish and unlikely.


Superstore and Family Guy hold stronger promise for renewal than the next classifications as they are the 2nd-strongest performers in their respective stables.  Superstore will have 55+ episodes amassed in 2018, and Family Guy hits 300 episodes this season.  Five more showings of competitive ratings will earn these stronger links upgrades to 100% if they continue above their network bar.


Kevin Can Wait, American Housewife, Black-ish, The Good Place and Last Man on Earth are a necessity to keep their respective networks' schedules intact.  KCW has experienced appalling drops from the 2.3 premiere, but has outranked every CBS show not adjacent to The Big Bang Theory.  Unless KCW drops to a 0.9 by December, the show is likely to return in some form next season.  American Housewife is down from last season's run on Tuesdays.  But it stands as ABC's strongest yet to be renewed player.  Black-ish is also down, but valued as it stands as ABC's strong tentpole in the Tuesday 9:00 hour.  It is taking 2nd in its timeslot against This is Us, something worthy of writing home about.

The Good Place has returned to a strong season on NBC, and is also gaining mild exposure as the Will and Grace lead-in.  Unless the network decides to scale back to two showings of sitcoms per week (an unlikely odd, as NBC is embarrassed about losing its stranglehold on the evening), The Good Place is needed to command a strong(er) performance.  And Last Man on Earth ranks toward the bottom of the pack with what many networks still brandish as embarrassing ratings.  However, they reside on Sundays at 9:30 and have housed stable performances in-line with the last season.  LMOE will have 67 episodes by 2018, so why not keep a stable performer in play?  If the show ends, it will likely be due to a Nielsen drop or the writers deciding to retire the serialized premise.

Five more weeks of performances are needed to change these shows' renewal predictions.  Otherwise, these shows are counted as a likely guest seated in the networks' 2018-19 banquet.


ABC's Speechless and FOX's Ghosted rank in the same position in Nielsen performance and mid-comedy-block-scheduling thus far.  Both are capable of doing better, yet blend into their timeslot landscape.  Ghosted has mildly improved its predecessor Son of Zorn's performance as it narrowly retains more from its surrounding performers.  Yet a runaway hit would have pulled a 1.6 or higher out of the Simpsons' football-inflated 2.2.  Speechless has hit a creative lull in its 2nd season, down considerably from the 1.8-2.0 sensational ratings it enjoyed early in its run.  While surrounding supports Goldbergs and Modern Family are both down this season, Speechless is down further.  This week's stark drops are alarming, and continued losses or patterns below 1.2 may warrant a downgrade.  Ghosted and Speechless have yet to give warrant for cancellation.  Rather, a warrant seems to be in order for being moved to a less desired timeslot in 2018.


Great News and The Mick both debuted mid-season in 2017.  The Mick is delivering under performance with 0.9 entries out of 1.1 and 1.2 lead-ins and taking 4th Place regularly.  Great News experienced an inauspicious late-season debut and was given a surprise renewal.  It currently retains half of the rich Will and Grace lead-in, leaving it an obvious underperformer.  ABC Freshman The Mayor debuted with two strikes against it, as it not only received the network's worst timeslot (Tuesday 9:30), but also mixed reviews from critics. However, these shows have pros and cons to evaluate:

PROS -- FOX Tuesdays have not delivered strong ratings for some time, and The Mick is improving the 9:00 hour from the season before.  It is generously overperforming Brooklyn 99 at 9:30.  B99 is likelier to get axed first and New Girl is finished in 2018, so would FOX can The Mick too?  Their schedule is still tenuous with Friday being problematic.  Over at NBC, they are desperate to revive sitcoms on Thursdays and have laid the perfect foundation.  NBC seems jettisoned on keeping all sitcoms on this evening and also fancies giving shows 13 episode runs.  W&G only airs 16 episodes this season, and Trial & Error needs a home.  Great News has earned a home through 2018 at the least, as NBC would scramble to locate a fit for its least-desired sitcom timeslot.  The Mayor is running a hair higher than The Real O'Neal's and has yet to plunge fractional.  Also, Speechless is tanking early in its Sophomore year and has become a fire spot for the network.  A 1.1 on Wednesday makes it weaker than any show pulling a 1.0 on Tuesday.

CONS -- The Mick is already seeing fractional deliveries in its Autumn numbers.  If FOX locates a winning drama, they could scrap the troubled evening and load comedies on Sundays.  Great News is the weakest comedy NBC has to offer and may be dispensed if space is needed.  And it will not take much to impeach The Mayor if it begins seeing 0.8 ratings regularly.  The campaigns are stacked against this cursed timeslot.

These shows have a season of performance to defend their renewal, so stay tuned, as they still have promise.


Unlike the previous classification, this phylum holds less promise for higher performance.

CBS currently claims sole ownership of this losing category with freshman comedies 9JKL and Me, Myself & I.  9JKLosingMyNielsens has squandered its rich TBBT lead-in, only retaining 48% of its performance only 2 episodes in.  These figures performed under last season's failure The Great Indoors and descend downward toward The Millers' appalling Autumn 2014 performance of similar measures.  It is also down 37% from last season's 3rd showing of post-TBBT lucrative KCW (1.4 vs. 2.2).  Me, Myself & Ilene Cancellation is already dropping into sub-1 territory with a 0.9 three weeks into its run, in line with The Odd Couple's 3rd episode in the Monday 9:30 timeslot.  The promising factor for MM&I is it retained 75% of the 1.2 KCW rating, whereas TOC only retained 64% of 2 Broke Girls' 1.4 showing.

The big test for these struggling sitcoms will come on Monday, October 30 when KCW leads the evening at 8:00.  If MM&I matches or outperforms 9JKL, it will be spared.  If it deflates further, it could be the choice to get axed.  Superior Donuts and Man With a Plan did not hit the 0.9 measure until late into Spring, and CBS may be willing to compromise Superior Donuts giving that benchmark vs. one of the newbies.  Also, Man With a Plan needs an anchor and can suffice in either the 8:30 or 9:00 timeslot.  October's performance will shine greater light on which show is stronger, and November will have fates determined if the shows continue to deflate lead-ins.

Another burgeoning question is would CBS consider a mid-October swap of timeslots to test each show's weights?  Stranger things have happened in CBS scheduling.


Brooklyn 99 made the fast descent to this season's first endangered show, thanks to pitiful performances of fractional viewings in line with damaging Spring Doldrums numbers.  It is down 35% from last year's performance (0.67 vs. 1.03 for the season's first 3 episodes' data), and outlived its syndication goal.  And sadly, it has already matched last year's lowest sitcom, Making History's average.  Many may argue This Is Us's meta performance is harming the show, but competitors ABC and CBS manage to register showings above the 1.0 mark.  TVRG's Summer Project of profiling Historic Ratings sets a stark reminder that networks reserve the right to cancel shows in the Fall, even if they are a veteran.  CBS axed Rhoda in December 1978 midway through its 5th season, ABC fired Mr. Belvedere in December 1989 midway through its 6th season, and NBC tore down Veronica's closet in December 2000, 81 episodes into the 4th season.  Could the same fate befall B99?  If it dips to regular airings at 0.4 and 0.5, FOX may be prompted to give this show an early hook and showcase reruns or other ventures.


No shows have entered this last rites classification before slapped with the red CANCELLED label.  Keep an eye out though, as B99 is treading close if its average drops below 0.60.


This category traverses a greater bounty early in the season, as 7 shows have already had their fates determined vs. 2 in 2016.  RENEWED are ABC's The Goldbergs and Modern Family, CBS' The Big Bang Theory, FOX's unkillable Simpsons and NBC's Will and Grace revival.  And viewers shall bid ABC's The Middle and FOX's New Girl after 9 and 7 glorious years adieu after graceful runs as the 2017-18 is their FINAL SEASON.


Predictions for pre-March renewals leave NBC's Superstore and The Good Place as mid-season champions.

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