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Ugly Betty's Future Hangs On Performance of ABC's Spring Shows

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January 30th, 2009

This is a breakdown of ABC scripted shows and their renewal and cancellation prospects. For the main post containing unscripted shows click here.  For the Renew/Cancel Indexes for the other networks click these links:


With the announcement recently that Ugly Betty was being removed from the schedule amid the introduction of many new shows to the ABC spring line up, its fanbase was caught up in a wave of dispair. Could it be getting cancelled? Not necessarily.

While commenters often moan that all I bring in these posts are a tide of woe for their favorite shows, Ugly Betty's fate seems far from decided. So far this season it has been right on "the bubble" in terms of being renewed or cancelled for next season, and I think it still is. Its future hinges on the performance of the new shows about to be introduced this spring by ABC. If enough of the new shows do well, it's bye, bye Betty. But if they do poorly, Betty will be welcomed back with open arms.

So, the message to Ugly Betty fans out there is Hope All the New ABC Shows Tank!

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
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9:30P ABC  2,183  3,560 0.61 final season
ELI STONE ABC  2,264  3,560 0.64 cancelled
PUSHING DAISIES ABC  2,365  3,560 0.66 cancelled
ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9PM ABC  2,460  3,560 0.69 final season
DIRTY SEXY MONEY ABC  2,549  3,560 0.72 cancelled
BOSTON LEGAL ABC  2,856  3,560 0.80 finished
UGLY BETTY ABC  3,251  3,560 0.91  
SCRUBS-TU 9PM ABC  3,445  3,560 0.97  final season
SCRUBS-TU 9:30PM ABC  3,530  3,560 0.99  final season
SAMANTHA WHO? ABC  3,589  3,560 1.01  
LIFE ON MARS ABC  3,626  3,560 1.02  
Private Practice ABC  3,741  3,560 1.05  
BROTHERS & SISTERS ABC  4,680  3,560 1.31  
LOST ABC  6,626  3,560 1.86  
GREY'S ANATOMY ABC  7,170  3,560 2.01  
Desperate Housewives ABC  7,620  3,560 2.14  

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(1) After 8 seasons, and recent horrible ratings, but presumably great sydication profits, ABC's According to Jim looks like its prime-time run is coming to an end this season as one of the stars says the stage has been bulldozed. That seems pretty final to me.

(2) Eight seasons is the end for Scrubs as well.

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.

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.

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

 
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