DVR Gains Raise Renewal Prospects For Sunday Newbies ‘Secrets & Lies’ & ‘Last Man On Earth’, Justify ‘Royals’ Pickup

UPDATED: TV network executives have long said that they don’t rely on Live+Same day ratings when making renewal decisions. And for good reason. Three new Sunday midseason series have performed so-so to OK in Live+Same Day but have posted solid ratings gains after 3 days of DVR viewing. That includes ABC mystery drama Secrets & Lies and Fox comedy Last Man on Earth, which look pretty hopeful for a second season pickup, and E! soapy dramedy The Royals, which had been picked up for a second season before the premiere.

Secrets & Lies, which, like Last Man on Earth, faces the biggest show on television, The Walking Dead, has been very consistent, which not always is the case with heavily serialized dramas. After matching its premiere L+SD delivery on Sunday, posting a 1.5, 1.4, 1.4, 1.5 in adults 18-49 for its first four airings, the crime drama logged a solid +47% in Live+3 for its last episode, rising to a new L+3 series high of 2.2 in Week 4 (2.1, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2). Secrets & Lies will resolve the current murder mystery this season, and ABC has said the plan would be for Juliette Lewis’ Detective Andrew Cornell to tackle a new case with a new cast of characters each season.

Fox’s Last Man on Earth‘s ratings trajectory has been more consistent with a serialized series. After a very strong launch, logging a 2.4 L+SD in 18-49 for the hourlong opener, the comedy starring Will Forte showed off its DVR muscle, rising to a 3.3 in L+3. It has slipped since, 3.0, 2.6 and 2.7/2.4 for last week’s back-to-back episodes. Those are still solid enough numbers, Last Man regularly builds onto its Family Guy lead-in, and I hear the network is happy with its creative direction. So, unless there is a major ratings collapse, Last Man would make it to Season 2.

OveThe Royalsr at E!, the network’s first scripted series, The Royals, showed a rare Week 2 growth. The second episode of the show drew 1.1 million adults 18-49 in L3, a solid +46% over its Live+same say delivery and +6% from the L3 number for its premiere. The Royals still holds on about half of its lead-in, Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2.1 million in L3 for its last episode, +57% from L+SD). But, just like the maiden original scripted series for sibling Bravo, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, The Royals was well received and is showing growth. That secured Guide a second season pickup. If The Royals stays on that path, that will more than justify E!’s decision to go ahead with a second season before the premiere.

The one midseason Sunday series whose future is pretty cloudy is CBS drama Battle Creek, which is doing poorly in Live+ Same Day and not getting much of a boost from DVR.  It started with a strong percentage rise for the premiere, which went from a 1.0 in 18-49 in L+SD to 1.6 (+60%), but it’s L3 delivery has been middling (1.6, 1.2, 1.3, 1.0). The most recent episode of the show was hurt by a late start, 10:35 PM, because of NCAA basketball, but it only grew by +25% in the first 3 days of DVR viewing (0.8 to 1)

Overall, it’s been a pretty solid midseason launch season compared to recent ones, led of course by Fox mega hit drama Empire, already picked up for next season, with ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat and CBS drama CSI: Cyber also in strong renewal contention. The jury is still out on American Crime, which has been logging solid percentage DVR increases but off a small base, most recently growing +50% from a 1.2 18-49 rating in L+SD to a 1.6 in L3.

NBC is the only network without a promising new midseason performer so far as drama Allegiance was short lived and comedy One Big Happy has been slow off the gate. But it still has new drama American Odyssey, which is getting a potentially strong launching pad with The Bible sequel A.D. as a lead-in on Sunday.

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