Critics may grumble about too many reboots and brand extensions in TV, but the numbers don’t lie: It’s still the quickest way to grab the attention of fickle audiences. And the latest Fall TV tracking report from research firm Ipsos Connect bears that out.
IndieWire has obtained a copy of Ipsos’ latest TV Dailies report, organized by lead product manager Thomas Kelley, and the news is especially good for CBS and NBC. (The official start to the 2017-2018 TV season is this coming Monday, Sept. 25, per Nielsen.)
According to the study, which polled around 6,000 TV viewers age 18-49 over the past three weeks, NBC’s return of “Will & Grace” has the highest awareness of any new show premiering over the next few weeks: 66.5 percent of respondents knew the show would air on NBC this fall, nearly double the stat for any other show.
That’s a bit of a cheat, of course, since “Will & Grace” isn’t exactly a freshman series: It originally aired for eight seasons between 1998 and 2006.
But the other new shows with the highest awareness also come with built-in brand recognition: “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” (44.7 percent) benefits from the “Law & Order” franchise, along with a lasting familiarity (for some, at least) with the Menendez brothers. CBS’ “S.W.A.T.” (36.9 percent), an update of the classic TV action series, and “Young Sheldon” (36.1 percent), a prequel of sorts to the smash sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” also scored high.
Kelley has devised a matrix combining all of his data, mapping out what could be this year’s hits and misses. The methodology includes looking at whether audiences are aware of a show’s title, and if they knew which network will air it; whether respondents say they “definitely will watch” or “definitely will not watch” a show; and whether potential audiences were creating “buzz” by talking about a show.
Here’s the chart:
Ipsos TV Dailies
Overall, “Will & Grace” has the highest awareness and network attribution (meaning respondents knew where to find a new show), while “Marvel’s Inhumans” has the highest interest and communication among all of the fall shows.
The upper right quadrant of that chart is where you want to be. That means viewers have heard of a show and plan to check it out. Besides “Will & Grace,” “Young Sheldon” and “Law & Order True Crime,” that could also mean good things for ABC’s “Marvel’s Inhumans” (which critics have panned) and “The Good Doctor.” Fox’s “The Orville” is also there, and launched earlier this month to strong ratings.
Network execs always take awareness reports with a grain of salt, particularly in this age of so much noise in the marketplace — specifically, with broadcast cable, streaming, social media and more all vying for audience eyeballs.
“The good news is, we’re now post-Labor Day and as we get closer to the new season, people will start focusing,” said CBS marketing president George Schweitzer. “I find that every year we have to get closer and closer to the new season before the focus comes to the consumer. People are making their TV decisions much closer to air. And once they start, they’re sampling longer.”
Kelley notes that although programs with high name recognition generally do well with awareness, “that does not necessarily translate into positive interest or communication about the program, which is evident when you take a look at where ‘Dynasty’ places.”
Most of the shows that perform poorly on this chart don’t premiere until October, so they likely haven’t received much promotional support yet. Shows on the bubble so far, besides “Dynasty,” also include The CW’s “Valor,” ABC’s “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” and CBS’ “9JKL” and “Me, Myself and I.”
Last year’s matrix fairly accurately predicted the fall’s hits: All of the shows in the upper right-hand quadrant last year managed to return for sophomore seasons, including “This Is Us,” “Bull,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “Designated Survivor” and “Timeless.” Most of the shows with low awareness, including “Pure Genius,” “Conviction” and “The Great Indoors,” didn’t return.
Read More: All of IndieWire’s Fall TV Coverage
As for pure awareness among adults 18-49 over the course of the last three weeks, here’s how this fall’s broadcast network shows stack up:
“Will & Grace” (NBC) 66.5%
“Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” (NBC) 44.7%
“S.W.A.T.” (CBS) 36.9%
“Young Sheldon” (CBS) 36.1%
“Marvel’s Inhumans” (ABC) 36.0%
“The Good Doctor” (ABC) 33.3%
“Dynasty” (The CW) 32.3%
“Me, Myself & I” (CBS) 29.3%
“The Gifted” (Fox) 28.0%
“SEAL Team” (CBS) 23.7%
“The Orville” (Fox) 20.8%
“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” (ABC) 19.6%
“Ghosted” (Fox) 18.5%
“The Mayor” (ABC) 18.0%
“The Brave” (NBC) 16.4%
“Valor” (The CW) 14.5%
“Wisdom of the Crowd” (CBS) 9.9%
“Ten Days in The Valley” (ABC) 9.6%
“9JKL” (CBS) 9.4%