Monday, July 13, 2015

TV: The Thursday bloodbath

It's a bloodbath.

We knew that would be the case.

Back in May, we offered "TV: Oh, no, they didn't" and, oh, yes, they did.

And refused to budge.


We're talking about the broadcast networks decision to turn Thursday night into the night of the week when all five nets and netlettes (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW) offered new programming.

Some of the usual know-nothings from The Water Cooler Set have taken to offering 'analysis' and picking the winners and losers.

They should have just stuck to picking their noses -- something they could have succeeded at.

Take Rick Kissel, senior editor of the industry bible Variety, whose analysis only demonstrates why The Hollywood Reporter's thrived for so many decades.

Kissel's a pig rolling in his own slop, snorting away about how, for example, Beauty and the Beast isn't doing well.

Beauty and the Beast is actually one of the few Thursday night hits.

Kissel can't tell you that because all he can offer is, "This came in at number one for the night, this came in at number two . . ."

Repeating Nielsen rankings is not "analysis."

Hell, it doesn't even strike us as actual reporting.

Analysis, is noting that The CW is using Beauty and the Beast to up its summer presence.

And it's succeeded.

The ratings on Thursday night this summer season match what the series garnered  spring 2013.

It's held its audience.

We'd argue it would have built its audience if one of two things had happened.

If it had been airing on another night, say Tuesday, it would have done better.

Instead, it's on bloodbath Thursday.

The second thing that would have helped it get even better ratings would have been pairing it with an hour long, scripted series similar in tone.

But there's no mistaking the fact that Beauty and the Beast has held its own and is drawing viewers, nearly a million an episode.

These viewers do not hang around for Dates -- as the ratings demonstrate.

But nearly a million people are tuning into The CW to watch Beauty and the Beast -- and that's about the number that tuned in for Jane The Virgin -- The CW's most heavily promoted show.

Beauty and the Beast will be back for a fourth season.

That's not a prediction by us.

The CW made the decision to turn the series into a summer show and, when they announced that, they also announced it was renewed for season three and season four.

The CW is thrilled with the performance of Beauty and the Beast.

And should be.

On a heavily contested night, the series has held its own and retained the same numbers it had during the non-summer season.

That's a win.

Bloodbath Thursday.

We'd love to pretend we coined the term but it was first used the last week of June by a friend who's an ABC exec.

ABC can take comfort in the fact that Rookie Blue retains its audience.

That's a real Thursday night success.

Not to hear Variety Rick tell it.

To hear him pontificate, it's nothing but net for ABC or whatever sports metaphor the boys who never played on a team like to use.

Rick thinks 3 and a half million viewers for Mistresses is a good thing.

He can only compare it to the ratings for other shows on that night.

But when Alyssa Milano was in the cast of Mistresses, that show debuted in season one and season two to over four million viewers.

Not one of season three's five episodes aired so far have managed to reach four million viewers.

Mistresses is not a hit.  It's a show struggling in the ratings.

It's a show being outperformed by its lead in, Astronaut Wives Club.  In fact, that new show had nearly a million more viewers on Thursday night than Mistresses.

Astronaut Wives Club kicked off ABC's prime time schedule with over four million viewers and Rookie Blue ended ABC's prime time schedule with over four million viewers.  It was only the show sandwiched in between, Mistresses, that couldn't pull in four million.

See, if you're doing analysis, that means Mistress is a dog, a dingo dog with fleas.

People tune in for ABC's first hour and then go elsewhere during the second hour only to return for the third.

That's not a hit.

That's a show that's driving viewers away.

As we noted in "TV: Brian Williams joins the cast of Mistresses," the show can't survive without Alyssa Milano.

We were speaking of quality, not ratings, in the earlier piece.

And in terms of quality, let's note Wayward Pines which has become the most interesting of the summer shows.

Usually, when a show loses actors of the caliber of Juliette Lewis and Terrance Howard, it can't recover.  Both of those actors delivered inspired performances in the first episodes of the series only to be killed off.  And the show not only goes on, it continues to deliver the goods.

Melissa Leo is especially to be applauded for her work and the levels she has brought to her character but the reality is, if Matt Dillon couldn't carry the show, it would fall apart.

Matt Dillon's looks have too often meant breathless exclamations of "He can act!" -- as if he hadn't demonstrated that repeatedly in everything including My Bodyguard, Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, Tex, There's Something About Mary, Drugstore Cowboy, To Die For, Crash, Wild Things, Mr. Wonderful and much more.

He's aided by a slow reveal plot that hooked viewers in before they knew what they were in store for.

Wayward Pines is the summer surprise.

And it's also a ratings hit.

The same can't be said for Under The Dome on CBS.

Unless you're Variety Rick who's rushing to insist the show is a hit and frequently battles with Wayward Pines for the top spot of scripted drama on Thursday nights.

While it does, indeed, do that, it does that with six or five million viewers.

That would be good for Wayward Pines which is in its first season.

That's lousy for Under The Dome.

In its first summer season, it posted numbers like 12 million.

In season two, it was more likely to have 7 million viewers.

Now, this summer, it's fallen to six or five million.

Analysis, pay attention Variety Rick, is noting viewer erosion.

Now maybe if CBS hadn't been stupid and moved Under The Dome to Thursday nights, maybe then the viewers wouldn't have continued to flee?

Regardless, they moved it.

And the show's ratings plummeted in season two and have again plummeted in season three.

CBS is seriously considering whether or not a season four is needed.

NBC came to a decision.

Aquarius is a strong show.

It's also one the network got wobbly on.

That's why they dumped it on Hulu, for example, all the episodes at once.

But despite that, it's delivered strong (for NBC) ratings.

It's done better than they hoped, much better.

But they paired it with Hannibal.

And the latter tanked.

And NBC pulled the plug on the gore porn show they'd already aired for two (low rated) seasons.

As we noted back in May, the smart thing would have been for all five (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW) to spread their offerings out over the week.

Instead, they wanted Bloodbath Thursday.

And they got it.

In the process, Wayward Pines proved to be a ratings hit, The CW used Beauty and the Beast to post summer ratings comparable to their fall and spring ratings (expect more scripted from The CW next summer) and Rookie Blue remained a ratings hit for ABC while Astronaut Wives Club became a new hit for the network.

And there the good news ended.

Under The Dome continued to bleed viewers, Hannibal had none and Mistresses went from ABC's successful summer staple to a show adrift.  Worst of all, Aquarius is now seen as the show NBC should have had more faith in and various execs at the network wonder if the series might be posting even better numbers if they hadn't tried to burn it off online instead?

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