Every network that has a ratings flagship that it uses to launch new shows. CBS has The Big Bang Theory, which has been used this year to launch both Kevin Can Wait on Mondays for the first five weeks of the season and The Great Indoors on Thursdays after football — both of which were picked up for a full season.
And NBC has The Voice, which this year has been tasked with launching Timeless on Mondays and This Is Us on Tuesdays — once again proving how such a platform can be a mixed back of results.
On Mondays, Timeless is averaging 5.5 million L+SD viewers while that night’s edition of The Voice is averaging 10.71 million L+SD viewers — a 51% retention rate.
But on Tuesdays, This is Us is averaging 9.55 million L+SD viewers while that night’s edition of The Voice is averaging 10.58 million L+SD viewers — a 90% retention rate. Additionally, This is Us is actually out-drawing The Voice by 6% in L+7 viewership.
So is it a Monday thing or a Tuesday thing? Well, Blindspot managed an 81% retention rate on Monday nights last season (10.78 million out of 13.33 million in L+7 viewership). But Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris only managed a 44% retention rate on Tuesday nights last season (5.56 million out of 12.62 million in L+7 viewership). At the same time, Chicago Med (9.83 million) was on par with its Monday night counterpart with a 78% retention rate after Best Time was cancelled.
Perhaps it’s a competition thing. Last season on Monday nights, Blindspot faced a declined Castle on ABC (which was eventually cancelled) and NCIS: Los Angeles (which has since been moved to Sundays at 8pm). Last season on Tuesday nights, Best Time Ever faced the also-cancelled Limitless on CBS and the quickly-cancelled Wicked City on ABC. Chicago Med faced the low-rated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC as well as the low-rated Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Grinder on FOX.
Keep in mind that Best Time Ever aired at 10pm and Chicago Med aired at 9pm after The Voice was reduced from two hours to one. Also keep in mind that neither the CW nor FOX program the 10pm hour. So perhaps it’s a programming and scheduling thing on the part of Timeless and Best Time — which are either the wrong shows in the right time slots or the right shows in the wrong time slots.
But for further context, let’s take a look at The Voice lead-outs from earlier seasons (new shows only):
During the 2014-2015 season, the Monday edition averaged 13.8 million viewers. Its new lead-out was the cancelled State of Affairs (7.83 million viewers) with a retention rate of 57%. The Tuesday edition averaged 13.45 million viewers. Its lead-out was the cancelled Marry Me (4.39 million viewers) with a retention rate of 33%.
During the 2013-2014 season, the Monday edition averaged 14.57 million viewers. Its lead-out was the The Blacklist — which actually over-delivered on its lead-in by 3% (and was the only Voice lead-out to do so until This Is Us). The Tuesday edition averaged 13.9 million viewers. Its lead-out was the now-cancelled About a Boy (8.12 million viewers) with a retention rate of 58%.
During the 2012-2013 season, the Monday edition averaged 14.17 million viewers. Its lead-out was the now-cancelled Revolution (10.5 million viewers) with a retention rate of 74%. The Tuesday edition averaged 13.24 million viewers. Its lead-out was the cancelled Go On (5.72 million viewers) with a retention rate of 43%.
And in the middle of the 2011-2012 season, the Monday edition averaged 15.77 million viewers. Its lead-out was the now-cancelled Smash (8.94 million viewers) and in the first use of The Voice to launch a new show, retention was 57%.
So while the use of The Voice as a platform has generated a couple of hits in The Blacklist (currently in its fourth season, but now airing on Thursday nights at 10pm), Chicago Med (currently in its second season, but now airing on Thursday nights at 9pm) and This Is Us (currently tracking for a Top 10 finish in L+7 viewership), four of its new series lead-outs didn’t make it past a first season (Best Time Ever, State of Affairs, Marry Me and Go On) and three didn’t make it past a second season (About a Boy at a different time, Revolution on a different night at a different time and Smash on a different night).
As for Timeless, a second season doesn’t seem likely while This Is Us has not only been renewed for the full season, but a second season is almost guaranteed at this point. If NBC is wise (which it generally isn’t), then that second season will air in the same time slot as opposed to being shifted to help shore up a trouble time slot on another night.