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What Do NBC Programmers Cancel: Life, Knight Rider, Law & Order, Kath & Kim, Chuck?

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December 9th, 2008

The Renew or Cancel Index is updated on a weekly basis, if you're reading this after December 16, 2008 click here to see the latest list.

With the news that NBC will give 5 hours of weekday primetime to Jay Leno coupled with the fact they air 4 hours of NFL Football on Sundays and 3 hours of reruns on Saturday, they'll only have 10 hours of airtime to program with other shows next fall. That will make the Renew / Cancel decisions for 2009-10 quite unique and now you can play along!

NBC has 11 hours of surviving shows from Fall 2008 (minus ER which is in its final season). Let's assume they want to try 2 hours of new shows (wild guess, I know, our mileage may vary). That means as an NBC programmer you've got to cut 3 hours of their existing shows. Have at it!

[poll id=15]

Note: You can choose up to five shows, but you'll have to make them add up to 3 hours yourself.

As I wrote earlier, I’m going to begin taking into account the 18-49 ratings trends for the shows near last season’s Renew / Cancel line of 0.92 in projecting their fate at the end of this season. For example, while Cold Case and Without a Trace have Indexes below 0.92, their trends are positive and I think, on that basis, renewal is likely for both. If you see shows now indicating green that have Indexes below 0.92, it’s because their 18-49 trend has been positive. And even though Privileged currently seems to be "safe" the fact that it's being taken out of the schedule in March with no word on its future puts it in doubt.

While the Renew / Cancel index is most geared toward predicting potential renewal for *next* season, my color coding of the shows are guesses on what might happen this season: Cancelled/Not Returning, Not Likely To Be Renewed, or Renewal Likely for 2009-10.


PROGRAM Net STD 18-49 (LIVE+SD) (000) Network Avg. STD 18-49 Renew/ Cancel index Status
EASY MONEY (1) CW 288 1,260 0.23 cancelled
VALENTINE (1) CW 345 1,260 0.27 cancelled
CRUSOE NBC 1,428 3,620 0.39 now Sat
DO NOT DISTURB FOX 2,097 3,740 0.56 cancelled
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (2) NBC 2,051 3,620 0.57 cancelled
PUSHING DAISIES ABC 2,419 4,040 0.60 cancelled
THE EX-LIST (2) CBS 2,443 4,020 0.61 cancelled
ELI STONE ABC 2,462 4,040 0.61 cancelled
TIL DEATH FOX 2,364 3,740 0.63 cancelled
DIRTY SEXY MONEY ABC 2,610 4,040 0.65 cancelled
BOSTON LEGAL ABC 2,805 4,040 0.69 finished
THE NEW ADVS OF OLD CHRISTINE (3) CBS 2,838 4,020 0.71
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (2) CW 890 1,260 0.71
LIFE - WED (4) NBC 2,627 3,620 0.73
TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES FOX 2,765 3,740 0.74
KNIGHT RIDER NBC 2,696 3,620 0.74
NUMB3RS (2) CBS 3,012 4,020 0.75
GARY UNMARRIED CBS 3,060 4,020 0.76
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC 2,780 3,620 0.77 cancelled
THE GAME (2) CW 987 1,260 0.78
PRISON BREAK FOX 3,050 3,740 0.82
Law And Order NBC 2,982 3,620 0.82
THE UNIT CBS 3,352 4,020 0.83
GHOST WHISPERER (2) CBS 3,449 4,020 0.86
WITHOUT A TRACE CBS 3,532 4,020 0.88
UGLY BETTY ABC 3,563 4,040 0.88
KATH & KIM NBC 3,203 3,620 0.88
SAMANTHA WHO? ABC 3,583 4,040 0.89
Private Practice ABC 3,610 4,040 0.89
LIFE ON MARS ABC 3,626 4,040 0.90
PRIVILEGED CW 1,138 1,260 0.90
COLD CASE CBS 3,648 4,020 0.91
Shows below this line were typically renewed last season
CHUCK NBC 3,333 3,620 0.92
MY NAME IS EARL NBC 3,510 3,620 0.97
ELEVENTH HOUR CBS 3,961 4,020 0.99
WORST WEEK CBS 3,973 4,020 0.99
American Dad FOX 4,118 3,740 1.10
BONES FOX 4,200 3,740 1.12
The Big Bang Theory CBS 4,612 4,020 1.15
CSI: NY CBS 4,804 4,020 1.20
THE Mentalist CBS 4,808 4,020 1.20
KING OF THE HILL FOX 4,475 3,740 1.20 not renewed
NCIS CBS 4,819 4,020 1.20
BROTHERS & SISTERS ABC 4,851 4,040 1.20
E.R. NBC 4,547 3,620 1.26 final season
How I Met Your Mother CBS 5,097 4,020 1.27
CSI: MIAMI CBS 5,149 4,020 1.28
Criminal Minds CBS 5,199 4,020 1.29
Law And Order:SVU NBC 4,774 3,620 1.32
Fringe FOX 4,975 3,740 1.33
30 ROCK NBC 4,908 3,620 1.36
Supernatural CW 1,768 1,260 1.40
Family Guy FOX 5,487 3,740 1.47
Simpsons FOX 5,537 3,740 1.48
HEROES NBC 5,427 3,620 1.50
Two and a Half Men CBS 6,422 4,020 1.60
90210 CW 2,025 1,260 1.61
Gossip Girl CW 2,057 1,260 1.63
OFFICE NBC 5,941 3,620 1.64
Smallville CW 2,128 1,260 1.69
One Tree Hill CW 2,136 1,260 1.70
CSI CBS 7,032 4,020 1.75
HOUSE FOX 6,780 3,740 1.81
Desperate Housewives ABC 7,912 4,040 1.96
GREY'S ANATOMY ABC 8,099 4,040 2.00

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The Renew/Cancel Index is a show's Season To Date adults 18-49 viewership divided by its networks Season to Date average 18-49 viewership.

(1) CW MRC Sunday - The CW leased its entire Sunday night to Media Rights Capital (MRC). 11/20 Update: That experiment is now at an end, the MRC shows will air for the final time on 11/23/08 and the CW will begin airing repeats and movies starting on 11/30/08.

(2) Friday night - Friday is quickly becoming an 18-49 wasteland, so these shows may be allowed a lower threshold for success than shows on other nights.

(3) New Adventures of Old Christine: Perhaps CBS is willing to accept low numbers in its new timeslot indefinitely to build a new "comedy block". Perhaps CBS will return Christine to the warmth and safety of Monday night and cut Worst Week or Gary Unmarried loose. And perhaps not.

(4) Life moved to Wednesday beginning November 5. This is its Wednesday only STD 18-49 average as calculated by me. For past reference, the 4 Life episodes that aired on Fridays averaged 2.043 million adults 18-49.

How did we come up with our Index? We found that last season, the future of a show was nearly directly related to its adults 18-49 average viewers divided by its networks 18-49 average viewers. Many other factors may matter, but they all seemed to boil down to that one number. Because American Idol so skewed Fox's 18-49 average, and would make nearly all Fox shows fall into the "cancel" range, for Fox, I used the last STD 18-49 average *before* Idol. Last season, if a show had better than 92% of its network's average 18-49 viewership (0.92 in our index) it was pretty safe, below that level it was in danger.

Remember that plenty can change before the end of the season, particularly for the shows with indexes between 0.80 and last season’s renewal line of 0.92. The list is presented in a (and has to be, since I cannot predict future ratings) “what would happen if the season ended today” mode. Could the renewal line be 0.86 this season? Possibly. It might also be 0.95. Might it be 0.70? No chance.

And for folks thinking "No way would the networks cancel all of those shows", there were 25 scripted shows cancelled in the 2007-8 season. That is, shows that ran during 2007-8 that did not come back for 2008-9. These same networks cancelled at least 30 scripted shows that aired during 2006-7, although that's just from a quick look at that season to date list that could suffer from a number of possible errors on my part, but the magnitude of shows cancelled was similar.

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For unscripted shows, the results from last season were far less cut and dried. A similar relationship did seem to hold between 18-49 averages, but some unscripted shows survived with very low numbers. My conclusion was that some unscripted shows must be so cheap that they are expected to do little more than fill air time and produce little in the way of viewership. However The Closer a show is to the top of the list the more danger it's in of being cancelled or not returning when it's run is completed. Other shows can be judged by their relative position on our list ranked from most likely to be cancelled to least likely to be cancelled.


PROGRAM Net STD 18-49 (LIVE+SD) (000) Network Avg. STD 18-49 Renew/ Cancel index Status
IN HARM'S WAY CW 355 1,260 0.28 cancelled
AMERICA'S TOUGHEST JOBS NBC 1,453 3,620 0.40
Dateline FRI NBC 1,493 3,620 0.41
DEAL OR NO DEAL-FRI NBC 1,700 3,620 0.47
WIFE SWAP ABC 1,932 4,040 0.48
SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER FOX 1,804 3,740 0.48
SAT NIGHT FTBL PRE-GAME ABC 2,029 4,040 0.50
Supernanny ABC 2,163 4,040 0.54
DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS FOX 2,008 3,740 0.54
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS ABC 2,175 4,040 0.54 cancelled
48 Hours Mystery CBS 2,171 4,020 0.54
HOLE IN WALL THU-8P FOX 2,184 3,740 0.58
COPS FOX 2,193 3,740 0.59
20/20-FRI ABC 2,609 4,040 0.65
AMW: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK FOX 2,448 3,740 0.65
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2 NBC 2,441 3,620 0.67
COPS 2 FOX 2,564 3,740 0.69
DEAL OR NO DEAL-WED NBC 2,607 3,620 0.72
AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS ABC 2,920 4,040 0.72
Kitchen Nightmares FOX 2,854 3,740 0.76
STYLISTA CW 1,049 1,260 0.83
SAT NIGHT FOOTBALL ABC 3,572 4,040 0.88
Amazing Race 13 CBS 4,179 4,020 1.04
60 Minutes CBS 4,383 4,020 1.09
Biggest Loser 6 NBC 4,119 3,620 1.14
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3 NBC 4,273 3,620 1.18
Extreme Makeover:HM ED-8P ABC 4,855 4,040 1.20
DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 5,366 4,040 1.33
SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 5,563 4,020 1.38
Dancing with the Stars ABC 5,788 4,040 1.43
SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 5,520 3,620 1.52
THE OT FOX 6,306 3,740 1.69
AMERICA'S Top Model CW 2,564 1,260 2.03
NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 8,359 3,620 2.31

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Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved. All viewership numbers are Live+SD.

 
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