TV.com's Network Power Rankings, Early April 2013: Big Renewals Keep FX and CBS at the Top


Welcome back to the TV.com Network Power Rankings, everyone! The networks have been quite busy over the last couple weeks, which means there's a lot to discuss this time around.

And as always, in case you've forgotten how the rankings are formulated or if you're new to them altogether, here's how they work: Using a complicated methodology including ratings (Nielsen overnights, DVR numbers), business matters (pilot orders, scheduling, personnel decisions), buzz (social media, "viral" moments, other goodwill), and quality (good shows, episodes), I evaluate the performance of an ever-changing variety of networks based on the preceding weeks.

Last time, FX climbed to the top on the back of some really great episodes. But with lots of renewals, big debuts and returns, can the network stay on top?


1. FX (previous rank: 1)

Yes, FX can. What brought FX to the top—great shows—continued to air. Justified closed out its fourth season very, very strongly, Archer continues to right the ship after some stumbles early in the season, and The Americans is the best new show of 2013. Nothing changed there. 

But on top of those great shows, FX made all sorts of big moves last week that warrant another go at the top of the power rankings. The network's big upfront presentation resulted in firm details about the upcoming expansion (FXX will join FX and the slightly rebranded FXM); the official pickup of the Fargo miniseries from Noah Hawley, the news of four more limited series events from the likes of Shawn Ryan, Sam Mendes, and Alexander Payne; and comedies from Danny McBride and Charlie Kaufman. Oh, and the network renewed It's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaLegit, and The League, all of which will air on FXX, as well as Justified. And there's going to be an official network app.

If that wasn't the biggest, ballsiest upfront in the last five years, I don't know what was. FX is en fuego right now.


2. CBS (previous rank: 2)

Any time you can renew a staggering 18 shows, you're having a good couple of weeks. Unbelievable, but yet not. And though some of the second weekend games were a bit of a bore (thank you, Michigan's Trey Burke), airing the men's college basketball tournament brought the network solid ratings and lots of social media buzz (which isn't something CBS usually garners too easily).

Elsewhere, the network scores points for really impressive DVR numbers for The Big Bang TheoryElementary, and Person of Interest and the nice promotional build for Under the Dome.


3. HBO (previous rank: 7)

I really wanted to just type HODOR 100 times and leave things be, but there's a lot to talk about with HBO this time around. Obviously, Game of Thrones is back and more popular than ever. The show's Season 3 premiere scored record ratings, and HBO then almost immediately renewed the series for a fourth season (duh). Game of Thrones is also one of television's most buzziest—and well-marketed—series. Pre-premiere, it seemed like everyone on the internet was making their own house sigil and during the premiere, a larger number of people checked into the show on GetGlue.

But it's not just the war for the iron throne that has HBO back near the top. In the last week, the network announced a premiere date and released the first footage for the upcoming sixth season of True Blood, gave a six-episode series order to a comedy from the creators of Big Love and floated the idea that they might finally allow non-subscribes to access content through an untethered HBO GO. And Girls winning a prestigious Peabody award certainly doesn't hurt either.

Though, I'm still smarting over that Enlightened cancellation.


4. AMC (previous rank: 3)

A bit of a dip for AMC, despite yet another round of record-breaking Walking Dead ratings. 12.4 million viewers overall, with and 6.4 million of them in the 18-49 demographic is staggering, even for a show that continuously pulls in a staggering amount of viewers. I think it's fair to say that fans and critics were split on the quality of the second half of the season, but it doesn't really matter. The Walking Dead is a juggernaut. 

Elsewhere, Mad Men is coming! Our long national nightmare is over. We can stop talking about Jon Hamm's penis and start talking about how much we miss Fat Betty. Also: The Killing has a return date, which means that The Killing's continued existence is actually, legitimately real. The network also has a new brand campaign, complete with a fancy new logo and a slogan ("Something More"). Apparently they realized that "Best Original Stories" or "Story Matters Here" don't quite track for a lineup that also includes reality shows about taxidermists.

 

5. TBS (previous rank: N/A)

TBS makes a return to the rankings thanks to its coverage of the NCAA tournament, but also a number of relatively big news items. First, a couple of major renewals: Conan will be around until 2015 (and hopefully the new contract requires Conan himself to try something new every once in a while) and Cougar Town will continue for at least one more 13-episode season. And the promotional push for America's Greatest Sitcom Men at Work is in full-swing! Can't wait for more hijinks from those guys who would totally be friends in real life.


6. NBC (previous rank: 9)

There's always something to talk about with the punching bag of network TV, NBC. The Voice and Revolution came back last week and immediately improved the network's ratings and social media buzz, though Revolution took a substantial dip in Monday's second episode. The good news is that The Voice is doing well despite integrating two new judges on the fly (I for one don't miss X-Tina at all and though Usher isn't as entertaining as Cee-Lo, he provides more substantive critique).

Jay Leno has kept up his passive-aggressive jabs at NBC, a practice that will almost certainly continue now that he's definitely leaving The Tonight Show in the spring. Clearly time will tell whether Jimmy Fallon is a successful replacement for Jay, or if the audience accepts him at 11:30pm, but this is a good call. Fallon has evolved into the best version of a late night that we have. He will certainly bring more positive buzz to the network. Plus, all the late-night chatter has people talking about things other than how crappy NBC's ratings are... right?

And despite those crappy ratings, NBC is doing okay once DVR ratings are factored in. The OfficeGrimmParks and Recreation, and The Biggest Loser are all making big gains in that department. Of course, it's easy to make big gains when you're starting from such a weak place, but we tend to look at the bright-side here at the network power rankings.


7. ABC (previous rank: 5)

The big news here is that the Once Upon a Time spin-off is a go. I'm not particularly jazzed about this project (I've had my fare share of Alice in Wonderland riffs), but ABC is making a really smart decision to air the series in between the original Once's seasonal break. More networks need to do this. The cast is mostly full of unknowns, which tells me that ABC might be trying to do this on the cheap, but we'll see. 

We've all made jokes about Splash, but people are watching it. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, too few people watched Happy Endings when it returned last Friday. But hey, it's so great to have the show back, crappy timeslot aside. 


8. History (previous rank: 4)

History falls, mostly because other networks have had bigger and better things going on since the last power rankings were compiled. Though I can't imagine History executives will complain about The Bible wrapping up with nearly 12 million viewers and a 3.0 in the 18-49 demographic, just in the first airing. And though the buzz hasn't really picked up, Vikings continues to turn in quality episodes that garner solid ratings for the network.

And as always, things like Swamp PeopleBig Rig Bounty Hunters, and Pawn Stars continue to exist and exist successfully. 

 

9. BBC America (previous rank: N/A)

New blood! I'm happy to welcome BBC America to the power rankings. The network has arrived here thans to the premieres of Doctor Who and Orphan Black. After what was an emotional but completely uneven first half of the Doctor's seventh season, it's nice to see that the show has cleared its slate a little for this next incarnation. Jenna-Louise Coleman is as charming as we thought she was.

"The Bells of Saint John" earned BBC America its second-highest ratings ever (the first being the fall premiere of Doctor Who), with just over 2 million in live plus same day viewership, and also helped the network welcome the very promising Orphan Black to the network (it scored over a million viewers in live plus same day ratings). Both Doctor Who and Orphan Black did well in social media buzz on Saturday night as well.

BBC America also gets a little love for the return of The Nerdist, a new premiere date for Copper's second season and although it's not directly their doing, the news that David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special. Not a bad little run.


10. Fox  (previous rank: 6)

Nothing too exciting to report from Fox's camp. American Idol keeps chugging along and, despite a lack of interest online, the show is still one of the highest-rated shows on broadcast televisionThe FollowingFamily Guy, and Bones give the network some solid ratings and social media performers, and both New Girl and The Mindy Project continue to make strides late the season (and both shows will get a chance to grab some new viewers after Idol this week). 

But I want to give some love to Raising Hope, which finished its third season with two very entertaining episodes last week. The cast is one of the more underrated ensembles on television, and it's pretty cool that the show will be sticking around for a fourth season. 

In the buzz department, it was announced that Demi Lovato will return to the third season of The X Factor. That might mean something to you. I certainly like Lovato more than I like The X Factor, but she's a solid presence on what is otherwise a mess of a show. 


11. The CW (previous rank: N/A)

The C-Dub returns to the power rankings for the first time since the original list, mostly on the power of some solid television. The Vampire Diaries has been stellar since its return a few weeks ago, with anticipation rising for the backdoor pilot The Originals now that Elijah is finally back in the picture. If only Katherine could be featured in that series as well. Can't we clone Nina Dobrev?

Arrow and Supernatural continue to make for a solid Wednesday night full of hunky men and generally good storytelling. Nikita keeps doing its thing on Fridays, and it seems like Cult is interested in going the "completely nuts" route, so it could become must-watch television very quickly. And even though we haven't talked about it much here at TV.com, The Carrie Diaries is about to conclude a pretty good (and well-received) first season. The question is whether or not the show will actually return for Season 2, as the ratings aren't promising.

CW shows are also doing well socially, with a lot of check-ins on GetGlue. That matters, if even a little.



Comments (48)
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Castle is my # 1; close is NCIS; and The Voice - after that it is the seasonal ones like Royal Pains (Oh yeah!) and White Collar (double yeah!) that have really good multiple characters and great locations. Not sure what happened to Franklin & Bash but that was really good and funny - refreshing for a legal based show. Love the Good Wife but getting hard to follow the relationships which was its strength. Hey and check out The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network - like a series about that family and fun even if you are not into the food she makes - cant wait for new ones.
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CBS has that big blindspot and no depth perception, should be an easy knockdown.

Glug glug, it's the sound of FX's kool aid being drunk (Jim Jones actually used Flavor Aid brand, but shut up history nerds!). IMO, FX has to lose a step for breaking itself into 3 different channels and not clearly delineating how some sitcoms will stay while others will go. Also "FXX" sounds stupid and its logo is an awful ripoff of the Exxon logo. Ballsy? Yes. Risky when there's plenty of space in their regular schedule to try this out? Yes. And yet the rest of this list shows that not much contends with it, so goddamnit it's my vote too.

CBS had a lot of reruns, in my book their star fell a bit. Also I don't give a crap about March Madness, spending so much primetime credit on college basketball is isolating to a lot of viewers who either don't like basketball or find it disgusting how exploited collegiate sports is treated as a cash cow. I won't bore you again on the idea of "impressive DVR numbers" being dumb except to say it's like counting all the riders on the subway as paying customers when you're also counting the turnstile jumpers who ride for free.

Yay BBC America! Sad that The Nerdist returned to an even more formulaic and network-pitching blob, and that The Bells of St John kinda sucked, but yeah, Billy Piper and David Tennant returning to Doctor Who is great news.
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I can't say enough good things about Law & Order SVU. I'm pretty sure it would have much better ratings if it were on any network other than NBC . The CW should get some points for announcing the premiere date for their version of Whose Line is it Anyway.
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SVU has been on a really long time, it's hard to find new stories that aren't just ridiculous "ripped from the headlines" material. I think it's doing fine but I'm not surprised that after all these years it is not doing better in the ratings. I also don't think anybody else could air it, it's too sexy for CBS, too gritty for ABC, and not rapey enough for Fox. I kid, I kid, but seriously, Fox is disgusting.
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Sorry, but with its 100th episode USA and Psych should have made the list before CW did.
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Damn, I knew there was a reason I wanted USA to be on this list. Psych's 100th and the news that they might pick up Happy Endings certainly deserves to be on this over The CW.
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I dont understand how HBO and AMC aren't sharing the #1 spot. Spin it any way you want, Game of Thrones > everything else, and TWD's ratings were mind-boggling.
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Great article Cory! On top of that, they provide some kind of summary for "what happened in the network department this week", which is appreciated.
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IMO FX totally deserves to be first.For example watch Justified and The Americans
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My vote to AMC as a parting gift to The Walking Dead. Since I watch nothing else on the network, I guess I'll see you in the fall, AMC. (In other news, my brother was joking that there should be a Walking Dead: England. I wonder if zombies groan with an accent?)

I don't want anything on HBO... I think I'm the only one.

I am digging the voice so much right now, the new coaches are fabulous. So, NBC is pretty high on my list. But I think ABC wins just because Castle is amazing, and again, it gets no mention here! C'mon! It just hit 100 episodes, Cory!! That should be a huge factor for rankings, since you're looking at successes! And that's a huge success! Eh, Oh well. Castle is awesome.
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The day when we can clone Nina Dobrev is also the day my penis explodes.
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I would probably add A&E to that list with Bates Motel really working for them in the scripted department, and probably Comedy Central for providng some new funny entertainment like The Jeselnik Offensive, Ben Show, and Nathan for You, which, while not garnering that much "buzz" have really been a step forward for the network, as it has experienced a dry spell the past few years of new original programming.
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Wait... FX is number one based partly on renewing shows that wil air on a different channel?

ABC is still disqualified for their treatment of Happy Endings.
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"Fallon has evolved into the best version of a late night that we have."

I actually take exception to this statement. Craig Ferguson is undoubtedly the best late night host on TV - by a mile. Why the hell isn't he given the recognition he so richly deserves?? I don't get it.
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Because Craig Ferguson is better than "late night talk show tv", he blows the doors off network content.
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Dear networks: See how few reality shows are in this article? There's a reason for that! Nyaaa!

BTW: Will TV.com *ever* review Archer?
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Perhaps I just don't really understand these "rankings", but how is Showtime nowhere to be found? They aren't pulling better ratings than NBC? They definitely offer a better set of original programming than HBO. Am I missing something or is there a bias against Showtime here?
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And one other thing. GoT the show is overrated. A Song of Ice and Fire is awesome, but the show does a fantastic job of butchering GRRM's set of books. Peter Dinklage is the only reason to watch that show.
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Excellent ratings Cory, your reasoning is spot on.
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i think HBO will get to the top because its their month of boobs , sex , dragons , and whatever they've in stored for us in GoT ..

and because of Louie C.K's Special in April 13th which i predict it will get the most highest viewed show in April .. i know i wont miss this one
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Boobs!
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I really do like boobs. Hard to argue with that logic.
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Aw, Cory, dude, it's *Hodor*, not "HORDOR". Watching too much of A&E's Hoarders?

- This comment is brought to you by the Spelling Nazi's. The Spelling Nazi's: We're basically just quibbling assholes.
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The Spelling Nazi's need a lesson from the Apostrophe Nazis. :)

Editors, can be quibbling assholes, too. Also, Jen who is writing this comment totally should've caught that.

HODOR HODOR HODOR
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The Spelling Nazi's don't recognize the Apostrophe Nazis as a legitimate group. But we do recognize the Comma Nazis. They're the worst!
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Damn Commanists.
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Dammit, and now there's an extra comma in there, after "editors." I quit.
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Haha! This is the most fun I've had all day! I am such a nerd.
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GOD, I'M A MORON. Fixed.
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No, really, you're not. One mistake in a large article is completely understandable. I'm just a dick.
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Another great article as always, Corey! It was nice seeing The CW on the list again. Even though it would be awesome to see Katherine in the spin-off, I don't think that's possible but I hope that we see more of her on TVD.
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I hope this can happen somehow!! God, that would be awesome. If not, Katherine needs to stay on vd full time. No more leaving us for months!
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I predicted FX being on top the moment I heard all the news during the upfronts. I say they did so great this time, they should be on top next time too, even if not as much is happening now.
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How is HBO not number 1 with Game of Thrones back? Cause FX has Archer?
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and Justified
and the Americans
and did its upfronts
and announced new channels
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and GoT is better than all those combined, I really like The Americans though
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See. Now I'm just imagining FX's shows Voltron-ing up to battle GoT's medieval kaiju.
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Umm.. SunJusWilAmeriuge. That's horrible. Eugh. I have no idea.
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oooh, what would it be called?
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GoT is only one show.
Which means 1 day a week they have the best show on TV. FX has several great shows over the course of a week and some exciting new shows coming up
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Game of Thrones is the best show on tv right now, can you say the same about any FX show? Id rather watch the best show on tv once a week then several mediocre ones
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thats because HBO usually puts all their money into one show per season
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And their upfront presentation/announcement of new miniseries and so on.
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I appreciate everyone explaining my rationale for me!
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THIS ALL YOUR FAULT CORY BARKER!!!!!!
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Well done leaving True Blood off that list.
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"LouisGreene 29 minutes ago
thats because HBO usually puts all their money into one show per season"
- Nope.
They put money into GoT, Boardwalk Empire, Girls, documentaries and stand up specials.
The only thing airing right now is GoT - now unless you are going to watch GoT every day of the week, then FX is a much more interesting channel
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