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 Philadelphia, Legit, 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).
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.
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 Office, Grimm, Parks 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.
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 television. The Following, Family 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.