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Fans of Terminator, Life, Knight Rider, Gary Unmarried Should Look On The Bright Side

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December 23rd, 2008

The Renew or Cancel Index is updated on a weekly basis, if you're reading this after December 30, 2008 click here to see the latest list.

While it may seem to many that our Renew /Cancel Index is just a continuing story of anxiety and woe, for the holiday season I think fans of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Life, Knight Rider and Gary Unmarried should look on the bright side. Instead of lamenting the fact that they're very unlikely to be renewed for the 2009-10 season, consider that they all could easily have been cancelled early this season instead of surviving until May. At least you have another half season's worth of shows to watch! Although I know many folks out there disagree, I'm a big believer in "better to have watched and lost, then never to have watched at all!"

Update to respond to commenter Martha: I'd bet anything that CBS does not renew at *least* one of Christine, Gary Unmarried or Worst Week. I'd bet a lunch with Robert they don't renew two of them. I think they just renew one. The tricky thing is figuring out which one(s) go. Christine has done the worst, but it's a veteran and at 8pm. Gary Unmarried's done better than Christine, still it would be top of my "which one" list. Worst Week has done much better than either the other two, but it follows what are absolutely dominant complementary comedies, has it done well enough?

Of course, Monty Python fans Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

What shows are you thankful survived, even if just for another half season?

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 1,190 0.24 cancelled
VALENTINE (1) CW 345 1,190 0.29 cancelled
CRUSOE NBC 1,333 3,650 0.37 on Sat
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (2) NBC 1,998 3,650 0.55 cancelled
DO NOT DISTURB FOX 2,097 3,600 0.58 cancelled
EX LIST, THE (2) CBS 2,443 4,010 0.61 cancelled
ELI STONE ABC 2,348 3,770 0.62 cancelled
PUSHING DAISIES ABC 2,358 3,770 0.63 cancelled
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9:30P ABC 2,398 3,770 0.64
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9PM ABC 2,456 3,770 0.65
TIL DEATH FOX 2,364 3,600 0.66 cancelled
DIRTY SEXY MONEY ABC 2,543 3,770 0.67 cancelled
LIFE -WED (4) NBC 2,550 3,650 0.70
NEW ADVS OF OLD CHRISTINE (3) CBS 2,830 4,010 0.71
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC 2,633 3,650 0.72 cancelled
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (2) CW 860 1,190 0.72
NUMB3RS (2) CBS 2,953 4,010 0.74
KNIGHT RIDER NBC 2,696 3,650 0.74
TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES FOX 2,723 3,600 0.76
BOSTON LEGAL ABC 2,854 3,770 0.76 finished
GARY UNMARRIED CBS 3,060 4,010 0.76
Law And Order NBC 2,912 3,650 0.80
GAME, THE (2) CW 953 1,190 0.80
UNIT, THE CBS 3,268 4,010 0.81
PRISON BREAK FOX 3,019 3,600 0.84
KATH & KIM NBC 3,107 3,650 0.85
GHOST WHISPERER (2) CBS 3,444 4,010 0.86
UGLY BETTY ABC 3,264 3,770 0.87
WITHOUT A TRACE CBS 3,493 4,010 0.87
PRIVILEGED CW 1,053 1,190 0.88
COLD CASE CBS 3,588 4,010 0.89
CHUCK NBC 3,339 3,650 0.91
Last season shows below this line were typically renewed        
Private Practice ABC 3,516 3,770 0.93
MY NAME IS EARL NBC 3,430 3,650 0.94
SAMANTHA WHO? ABC 3,589 3,770 0.95
LIFE ON MARS ABC 3,626 3,770 0.96
ELEVENTH HOUR CBS 3,977 4,010 0.99
WORST WEEK CBS 4,082 4,010 1.02
American Dad FOX 3,860 3,600 1.07
KING OF THE HILL FOX 4,096 3,600 1.14 not renewed
BONES FOX 4,200 3,600 1.17
Big Bang Theory, THE CBS 4,701 4,010 1.17
NCIS CBS 4,748 4,010 1.18
Mentalist, THE CBS 4,773 4,010 1.19
CSI: NY CBS 4,790 4,010 1.19
E.R. NBC 4,551 3,650 1.25 final season
30 ROCK NBC 4,600 3,650 1.26
BROTHERS & SISTERS ABC 4,852 3,770 1.29
CSI: MIAMI CBS 5,169 4,010 1.29
Criminal Minds CBS 5,195 4,010 1.30
How I Met Your Mother CBS 5,204 4,010 1.30
Fringe FOX 4,699 3,600 1.31
Law And Order:SVU NBC 4,789 3,650 1.31
Supernatural CW 1,656 1,190 1.39
Simpsons FOX 5,074 3,600 1.41
Family Guy FOX 5,077 3,600 1.41
HEROES NBC 5,333 3,650 1.46
90210 CW 1,855 1,190 1.56
OFFICE NBC 5,728 3,650 1.57
Two and a Half Men CBS 6,527 4,010 1.63
Smallville CW 1,968 1,190 1.65
Gossip Girl CW 1,976 1,190 1.66
CSI CBS 6,776 4,010 1.69
One Tree Hill CW 2,020 1,190 1.70
HOUSE FOX 6,561 3,600 1.82
GREY'S ANATOMY ABC 7,176 3,770 1.90
Desperate Housewives ABC 7,913 3,770 2.10

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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 1,190 0.30 cancelled
AMERICA'S TOUGHEST JOBS NBC 1,453 3,650 0.40 off sched
DEAL OR NO DEAL-FRI NBC 1,700 3,650 0.47  
WIFE SWAP ABC 1,825 3,770 0.48  
SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER FOX 1,791 3,600 0.50  
48 Hours Mystery CBS 2,130 4,010 0.53  
Supernanny ABC 2,018 3,770 0.54  
SAT NIGHT FTBL PRE-GAME ABC 2,029 3,770 0.54  
DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS FOX 1,983 3,600 0.55  
Dateline FRI NBC 2,062 3,650 0.56  
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS ABC 2,175 3,770 0.58 cancelled
MILLION DOLLAR PASSWORD CBS 2,316 4,010 0.58  
COPS FOX 2,174 3,600 0.60  
HOLE IN WALL THU-8P FOX 2,184 3,600 0.61  
20/20-FRI ABC 2,525 3,770 0.67  
AMW: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK FOX 2,423 3,600 0.67  
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2 NBC 2,521 3,650 0.69  
COPS 2 FOX 2,526 3,600 0.70  
DEAL OR NO DEAL-WED NBC 2,607 3,650 0.71  
AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS ABC 2,870 3,770 0.76  
Kitchen Nightmares FOX 2,854 3,600 0.79  
STYLISTA CW 988 1,190 0.83  
SAT NIGHT FOOTBALL ABC 3,572 3,770 0.95  
Amazing Race 13 CBS 4,180 4,010 1.04  
60 Minutes CBS 4,378 4,010 1.09  
FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3 NBC 4,321 3,650 1.18  
Biggest Loser 6 NBC 4,329 3,650 1.19  
Extreme Makeover:HM ED-8P ABC 4,656 3,770 1.24  
SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 5,543 4,010 1.38  
DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 5,369 3,770 1.42  
Dancing with the Stars ABC 5,789 3,770 1.54  
SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 5,627 3,650 1.54  
OT, THE FOX 6,043 3,600 1.68  
AMERICA'S Top Model CW 2,564 1,190 2.15  
NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 8,613 3,650 2.36  

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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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