The Renew/Cancel Index, Our Predictor Of Show Futures

Categories: Cancel/Renew Index

Written By

August 27th, 2008

See the latest week's Renew/Cancel Index here, including the latest predictions for which shows will be cancelled.

Last season I tried a variety of methods to predict which new shows were doing well and which were doing poorly. All of them suffered from a scaling problem. A massive hit for the pathetic CW could still be at the bottom of the list for another network. It was hard to analytically predict the likelihood of renewal or cancellation. But at the end of last season I decided to compare a show's 18-49 viewership to its own network's 18-49 average and the results were quite consistent in predicting renewal or cancellation (in this case after the fact).

For this upcoming season, I'll use this method to publish a Renew/Cancel Index that I'll be using to predict the future of shows across the broadcast networks.

To get these tables using last seasons results through early May I simply divided a show's season to date average adults 18-49 viewership by its network's STD adults 18-49 average viewership.* I've separated the scripted and unscripted shows into two lists. As it turns out, the predictive ability of the method for scripted shows is much better than it is for unscripted shows.

Scripted Shows 2007-8 Season

For scripted shows, the line was clear. Maintain an adults 18-49 viewership above of 92% of your network average and you're going to be renewed. Only 2 shows that did that (Bionic Woman, Big Shots) were cancelled.

Fail to exceed 92% of your network's average adults 18-49 average viewership and you're almost certainly cancelled. Only 6 shows below that line survived. Friday Night Lights only because it was saved by DirectTV. Two others (Ghost Whisper & Numb3rs) are also Friday night shows, a very weak 18-49 night. Eli Stone and Boston Legal were on the bubble till the last minute, and it's still a mystery to me why 'Til Death survived, rumor was it was so cheap that Fox decided to keep it around.

Even if that 92% threshold changes this season, we'll still be in a good position to see which shows will likely be renewed before others.

And since every post we do about renewal or cancellation ends up becoming a post about Moonlight, perhaps this method will allow those of you folks prone to extreme emotional upset over the cancellation of a television show enough advance warning to get out before it's too late and your hearts are broken ;)

June, 2009 edits: Inspired by our relationship with Nielsen, we are removing older, archived, Nielsen data from the site. The tables below are the same as the one published in August, 2008, except the show and network season to date averages have been removed (and they have been resorted). However, the Renew/Cancel Index which was calculated using the removed numbers is the same as before. For reference, the season average 18-49 viewerships were ABC: 3.71 million, CBS: 3.67 million, NBC: 3.50 million, CW: 1.27 million, and Fox: 4.10 million.

Programs Net Renew/ Cancel index
Fate
LIFE IS WILD CW 0.36 cancelled
CANTERBURY’S LAW FOX 0.43 cancelled
JUST FOR LAUGHS ABC 0.47 cancelled
AMNESIA NBC 0.53 cancelled
MEN IN TREES ABC 0.53 cancelled
K-VILLE FOX 0.60 cancelled
WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB ABC 0.64 cancelled
CARPOOLERS ABC 0.65 cancelled
OCTOBER ROAD ABC 0.66 cancelled
NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY ABC 0.66 cancelled
Dexter CBS 0.68 returned to cable
TIL DEATH FOX 0.69
UNHITCHED FOX 0.70 cancelled
BACK TO YOU FOX 0.70 cancelled
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS NBC 0.70 survived via DirectTV deal
MOONLIGHT CBS 0.71 cancelled
Law And Order: CRIMINAL INTENT NBC 0.72 returned to cable
CASHMERE MAFIA ABC 0.72 cancelled
ALIENS IN AMERICA CW 0.73 cancelled
JERICHO CBS 0.73 cancelled
CANE CBS 0.75 cancelled
NUMB3RS CBS 0.76
WELCOME TO THE CAPTAIN CBS 0.77 cancelled
GHOST WHISPERER CBS 0.79
SHARK CBS 0.80 cancelled
LAS VEGAS NBC 0.80 cancelled
NEW AMSTERDAM FOX 0.81 cancelled
BOSTON LEGAL ABC 0.82
CAVEMEN ABC 0.83 cancelled
ELI STONE ABC 0.86
DIRTY SEXY MONEY ABC 0.92
JOURNEYMAN NBC 0.92 cancelled
LIPSTICK JUNGLE NBC 0.93
BONES FOX 0.93
GIRLFRIENDS CW 0.93
COLD CASE CBS 0.93
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS CW 0.94
UGLY BETTY ABC 0.98
PRISON BREAK FOX 1.00
LIFE NBC 1.00
UNIT, THE CBS 1.00
American Dad FOX 1.00
KING OF THE HILL FOX 1.00
NCIS CBS 1.00
BIG SHOTS ABC 1.03 cancelled
Supernatural CW 1.04
30 ROCK NBC 1.04
Gossip Girl CW 1.05
PUSHING DAISIES ABC 1.05
MY NAME IS EARL NBC 1.06
REAPER CW 1.06
Criminal Minds CBS 1.09
How I Met Your Mother CBS 1.09
Big Bang Theory, THE CBS 1.10
CSI: NY CBS 1.10
SCRUBS NBC 1.11
Law And Order NBC 1.11
GAME, THE CW 1.12
WITHOUT A TRACE CBS 1.16
CHUCK NBC 1.16
MEDIUM NBC 1.17
Simpsons FOX 1.19
Private Practice ABC 1.25
Family Guy FOX 1.25
E.R. NBC 1.25
OLD CHRISTINE CBS 1.27
TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES FOX 1.27
BIONIC WOMAN NBC 1.30 cancelled
SAMANTHA WHO? ABC 1.30
Rules of Engagement CBS 1.35
APPRENTICE 7 NBC 1.36
BROTHERS & SISTERS ABC 1.36
OFFICE NBC 1.37
CSI: MIAMI CBS 1.37
One Tree Hill CW 1.39
Law And Order:SVU NBC 1.42
Smallville CW 1.44
Friday Night Smackdown CW 1.45
Two and a Half Men CBS 1.60
CSI CBS 1.61
LOST ABC 1.72
HEROES NBC 1.99
GREY’S ANATOMY ABC 2.01
HOUSE FOX 2.05
Desperate Housewives ABC 2.29

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Unscripted Shows 2007-8 Season

The existing Renew/Cancel Index was much less clear in indicating the future of unscripted shows. It can give only a general indication, there was no bright line you could point to and say "if it only gets there, it'll be renewed". My guess is that it may be due to the fact that some of these shows are just so cheap to produce that almost any result is "good enough" and that they exist to just fill up programming time as cheaply as possible.

Programs Net Renew/ Cancel index
Fate
CW NOW CW 0.29 cancelled
DUEL ABC 0.36 cancelled
NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND FOX 0.37 cancelled
SAT NIGHT FTBL PRE-GAME ABC 0.45
CBS MOVIE SATURDAY CBS 0.47
CRIMETIME SATURDAY CBS 0.50
ABC SAT MOVIE OF THE WEEK ABC 0.52
48 Hours Mystery CBS 0.59
COPS FOX 0.61
AMW: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK FOX 0.67
20/20-FRI ABC 0.67
COPS 2 FOX 0.71
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2 NBC 0.71
SAT NIGHT FOOTBALL ABC 0.72
PRICE IS RIGHT PRIMETIME CBS 0.74
MY DAD IS BETR THN YR DAD NBC 0.75 cancelled
Dateline FRI NBC 0.75
1 VS 100 NBC 0.76 cancelled
Big Brother 9-WED CBS 0.76
CROWNED CW 0.77 cancelled
BEAUTY AND THE GEEK-3 CW 0.78 cancelled
WIFE SWAP ABC 0.79
KID NATION CBS 0.80 cancelled
DEAL OR NO DEAL-FRI NBC 0.81
SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER FOX 0.81
Big Brother 9-TUE CBS 0.82
Big Brother 9-SUN CBS 0.83
PHENOMENON NBC 0.85 cancelled
AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS ABC 0.85
PUSSYCAT DOLLS:GIRLICIOUS CW 0.86 cancelled
Kitchen Nightmares FOX 0.87
DON’T FORGET THE LYRICS FOX 0.90
DANCE WAR:BRUNO/CARRIEANN ABC 0.92
BACHELOR: LONDON CALLING ABC 0.93
60 Minutes CBS 0.93
Supernanny ABC 0.94
DEAL OR NO DEAL-WED NBC 0.98
HERE COME THE NEWLYWEDS ABC 1.14
BACHELOR, THE ABC 1.22
Biggest Loser 4 NBC 1.22
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3 NBC 1.24
Amazing Race 12 CBS 1.26
DEAL OR NO DEAL-MON NBC 1.28
Biggest Loser 5 NBC 1.29
OPRAH’S BIG GIVE ABC 1.31 Oprah bailed
OT, THE FOX 1.40
DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 1.41
BEAUTY AND THE GEEK-2 CW 1.47
SURVIVOR: MICRONESIA CBS 1.50
AMERICAN GLADIATORS NBC 1.52
Extreme Makeover:HOME ED. ABC 1.59
SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 1.59
HELL’S KITCHEN FOX 1.65
SURVIVOR: CHINA CBS 1.66
DANCING W/STARS RESULT-TU ABC 1.67
Dancing with the Stars ABC 1.68
DANCING W/THE STARS-MON ABC 1.87
AMERICA’S Top Model-4 CW 1.90
MOMENT OF TRUTH FOX 1.90
NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 2.37
AMERICA’S Top Model-3 CW 2.39
American Idol-WEDNESDAY FOX 3.26
American Idol-TUESDAY FOX 3.44

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*Except for Fox. Because American Idol skews their season 18-49 averages so dramatically, yet has no effect on those averages for the fall I used their 18-49 STD average as of Jan 13, the week before Idol began. For the ongoing index for this season, I will use Fox's ongoing STD average until Idol begins in January.

Of course, all of these numbers suffer from the fact that there was a writer's strike last season, but I can only use the numbers that are available.

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

 
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