Fall TV's Top 10 Must-Watch New Dramas

As Determined by the TVGuide.com Watchlist

By Published on .

Since August 2012, Ad Age has had an editorial partnership with TVGuide.com focused on its Watchlist, a customizable entertainment guide that lets users make a list of their favorite shows, actors, etc. We're fans of Watchlist because of its predictive powers: For several of the past TV seasons, 8 of the top 10 most Watchlisted new shows were picked up for full seasons.

Shortly after we published two charticles in May -- one about the most Watchlisted new dramas announced at the Upfronts, the other about the most Watchlisted comedies -- CBS Corp. bought out the half of TV Guide Digital (TVGuide.com and its mobile apps) it didn't already own, from Lionsgate. The good news, for those concerned about the integrity of the Watchlist rankings, is that TVGuide.com has kept full editorial independence -- and Watchlist rankings remain entirely user-driven. Tellingly, one of TVGuide.com's biggest advertisers recently was CBS competitor NBC, which bought a summer-long sponsorship.

So Watchlist remains for us a sort of massive focus group of informed TV viewers. The number of Watchlists created by TVGuide.com visitors and users of the TVGuide.com mobile apps now tops 1.5 million (up from just half a million when we started this partnership).

The chart shown here lists the 10 most-added new fall dramas -- and how their relative momentum has increased or decreased since May. To repeat a caveat we mentioned in May: Keep in mind that Watchlist users are, essentially, publicly expressing hope -- that these shows will live up to hype -- as well as an intent to watch.

What can you make of this chart? TVGuide.com Editor-in-Chief Mickey O'Connor offers a few insights:

• First, "Genre is the new Zeitgeist. The CW's 'Vampire Diaries' and 'Arrow' are bona fide hits, and it's clear that the audience is hungry for more superhuman, supernatural and superhero shows. The top 10 dramas -- across all networks – include Marvel's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' (ABC), 'Sleepy Hollow' (Fox), 'Wonderland' (ABC), 'Dracula' (NBC), 'The Originals' (CW), 'Almost Human' (Fox) and 'The Tomorrow People' (CW)."

• You'll notice that CBS has only one show in the top 10, vs. two each for ABC, Fox and the CW, and three for NBC. That sole CBS show is "Hostages," which we'll call out here because it's a bit of an outlier on our list, given that it doesn't fit into the predominant superhuman/supernatural/superhero Zeitgeist. (The plot: The family of a surgeon set to operate on the president of the United States is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent.) What it does have going for it, says O'Connor, is star-power: "CBS is marketing this intriguing, high-concept limited series with a campaign that focuses on the chemistry between leads Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott." Just in case you skimmed the introduction above a bit too quickly, O'Connor adds, "Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS."

• As for the top show on the chart, "If you saw and liked 'The Avengers,'" says O'Connor, "it's a pretty safe bet that you'll like Marvel's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' too, particularly now that ABC has shown the first episode to a handful of lucky Comic-Con attendees and critics, who pretty much universally raved. No wonder it's remained at No. 1 since May."

Stay tuned tomorrow for our chart showing the 10 most-added new fall comedies.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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