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TV Zombie 'According To Jim' Lives On Despite Dreadful Ratings

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December 16th, 2008

Yahoo Answers Visitors, Chuck has been renewed. Read all the announcements about the Broadcast TV Fall 2009 Schedules Here.

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ABC's According to Jim has returned to dreadful ratings, but like a zombie it refuses to die. Such are the massive profits to be found in off network syndication, that a ratings black hole in prime time is worth the back end money. ATJ debuts on our Renew/Cancel list with the worst index of any currently surviving scripted show. It started off with two airings in a row, perhaps ABC is just trying to get the episodes aired as quickly as possible and move on. Let me add that while I've marked it as "Not Likely To Be Renewed", I really have no idea what will happen. It survives without ratings now, who knows how long it will live!

The holiday rerun season has begun, and with some specials mixed in will continue until late January/early February, so don't expect much meaningful action in the list before then. What you should expect is that CBS's averages, which depend heavily on scripted procedurals which rerun well, will likely maintain themselves better during reruns than some other networks, ABC in particular, which depends on two big serial dramas, Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, which rerun poorly.

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 1,230 0.23 cancelled
VALENTINE (1) CW 345 1,230 0.28 cancelled
CRUSOE NBC 1,428 3,670 0.39 on Sat
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (2) NBC 1,996 3,670 0.54 cancelled
DO NOT DISTURB FOX 2,097 3,670 0.57 cancelled
EX LIST, THE (2) CBS 2,443 4,050 0.60 cancelled
ELI STONE ABC 2,378 3,910 0.61 cancelled
PUSHING DAISIES ABC 2,389 3,910 0.61 cancelled
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9PM ABC 2,480 3,910 0.63
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9:30P ABC 2,484 3,910 0.64
TIL DEATH FOX 2,364 3,670 0.64 off sched
DIRTY SEXY MONEY ABC 2,584 3,910 0.66 cancelled
NEW ADVS OF OLD CHRISTINE (3) CBS 2,850 4,050 0.70
LIFE - WED (4) NBC 2,596 3,670 0.71
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (2) CW 884 1,230 0.72
BOSTON LEGAL ABC 2,852 3,910 0.73 finished
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC 2,689 3,670 0.73 cancelled
NUMB3RS (2) CBS 2,969 4,050 0.73
KNIGHT RIDER NBC 2,696 3,670 0.73
TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES FOX 2,743 3,670 0.75
GARY UNMARRIED CBS 3,067 4,050 0.76
GAME, THE (2) CW 987 1,230 0.80
Law And Order NBC 2,964 3,670 0.81
PRISON BREAK FOX 3,032 3,670 0.83
UNIT, THE CBS 3,352 4,050 0.83
WITHOUT A TRACE CBS 3,426 4,050 0.85
GHOST WHISPERER (2) CBS 3,449 4,050 0.85
UGLY BETTY ABC 3,406 3,910 0.87
KATH & KIM NBC 3,202 3,670 0.87
PRIVILEGED CW 1,095 1,230 0.89
COLD CASE CBS 3,648 4,050 0.90
CHUCK NBC 3,326 3,670 0.91
Private Practice ABC 3,566 3,910 0.91
Last season shows below this line were typically renewed
SAMANTHA WHO? ABC 3,589 3,910 0.92
LIFE ON MARS ABC 3,626 3,910 0.93
MY NAME IS EARL NBC 3,513 3,670 0.96
WORST WEEK CBS 4,025 4,050 0.99
ELEVENTH HOUR CBS 4,074 4,050 1.01
American Dad FOX 3,995 3,670 1.09
BONES FOX 4,200 3,670 1.14
Big Bang Theory, THE CBS 4,638 4,050 1.15
Mentalist, THE CBS 4,694 4,050 1.16
KING OF THE HILL FOX 4,258 3,670 1.16 not renewed
NCIS CBS 4,700 4,050 1.16
CSI: NY CBS 4,793 4,050 1.18
E.R. NBC 4,548 3,670 1.24 final season
BROTHERS & SISTERS ABC 4,852 3,910 1.24
How I Met Your Mother CBS 5,135 4,050 1.27
CSI: MIAMI CBS 5,172 4,050 1.28
Criminal Minds CBS 5,193 4,050 1.28
Law And Order:SVU NBC 4,786 3,670 1.30
Fringe FOX 4,865 3,670 1.33
30 ROCK NBC 4,922 3,670 1.34
Supernatural CW 1,705 1,230 1.39
Simpsons FOX 5,241 3,670 1.43
Family Guy FOX 5,271 3,670 1.44
HEROES NBC 5,370 3,670 1.46
90210 CW 1,939 1,230 1.58
Two and a Half Men CBS 6,458 4,050 1.59
OFFICE NBC 5,970 3,670 1.63
Smallville CW 2,047 1,230 1.66
Gossip Girl CW 2,050 1,230 1.67
One Tree Hill CW 2,136 1,230 1.74
CSI CBS 7,102 4,050 1.75
HOUSE FOX 6,837 3,670 1.86
GREY'S ANATOMY ABC 7,608 3,910 1.95
Desperate Housewives ABC 7,913 3,910 2.02

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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.

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 Privilegedcurrently 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.

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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 1,230 0.29 cancelled
AMERICA'S TOUGHEST JOBS NBC 1,453 3,670 0.40
DEAL OR NO DEAL-FRI NBC 1,700 3,670 0.46
WIFE SWAP ABC 1,875 3,910 0.48
SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER FOX 1,798 3,670 0.49
SAT NIGHT FTBL PRE-GAME ABC 2,029 3,910 0.52
48 Hours Mystery CBS 2,160 4,050 0.53
Supernanny ABC 2,088 3,910 0.53
DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS FOX 1,996 3,670 0.54
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS ABC 2,175 3,910 0.56 cancelled
Dateline FRI NBC 2,110 3,670 0.57
HOLE IN WALL THU-8P FOX 2,184 3,670 0.60
COPS FOX 2,188 3,670 0.60
20/20-FRI ABC 2,564 3,910 0.66
AMW: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK FOX 2,439 3,670 0.66
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2 NBC 2,532 3,670 0.69
COPS 2 FOX 2,550 3,670 0.69
DEAL OR NO DEAL-WED NBC 2,607 3,670 0.71
AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS ABC 2,892 3,910 0.74
Extreme Makeover:HM ED-7P ABC 2,952 3,910 0.75
Kitchen Nightmares FOX 2,854 3,670 0.78
STYLISTA CW 1,018 1,230 0.83
SAT NIGHT FOOTBALL ABC 3,572 3,910 0.91
Amazing Race 13 CBS 4,180 4,050 1.03
60 Minutes CBS 4,505 4,050 1.11
Biggest Loser 6 NBC 4,179 3,670 1.14
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3 NBC 4,330 3,670 1.18
Extreme Makeover:HM ED-8P ABC 4,855 3,910 1.24
SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 5,543 4,050 1.37
DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 5,369 3,910 1.37
Dancing with the Stars ABC 5,789 3,910 1.48
SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 5,638 3,670 1.54
OT, THE FOX 6,306 3,670 1.72
AMERICA'S Top Model CW 2,564 1,230 2.08
NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 8,588 3,670 2.34

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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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