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Law & Order Looking Good For A 20th Season

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February 3rd, 2009

This is a breakdown of NBC 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:

Even though the recent increase in Law & Order's 18-49 adult demo numbers has come during weeks facing less than full competition, I am now a believer (disclaimer: and a big fan) that it will be back for its 20th season in 2009-10.

After airing the Super Bowl, NBC's 18-49 season to date average was significantly increased in a way that has no bearing on the rest of its shows or season, so I will be subtracting the one week increase of 370,000 adults 18-49 from NBC's average for the remainder of the season. Of course that ignores all the other changes in NBC's average from the past week, but I can't do better with the limited data I have.

Our Renew / Cancel index predicts potential renewal for *next* 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
CRUSOE NBC  1,167  3,480 0.34 finished
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS* (2) NBC  1,909  3,480 0.55  
LIPSTICK JUNGLE NBC  1,969  3,480 0.57 cancelled
KNIGHT RIDER NBC  2,537  3,480 0.73  
LIFE - WED (1) NBC  2,553  3,480 0.73  
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC  2,636  3,480 0.76 cancelled
KATH & KIM NBC  2,927  3,480 0.84  
Law And Order NBC  3,094  3,480 0.89  
MY NAME IS EARL NBC  3,328  3,480 0.96  
CHUCK NBC  3,348  3,480 0.96  
E.R. NBC  4,201  3,480 1.21 final season
30 ROCK NBC  4,267  3,480 1.23  
Law And Order:SVU NBC  4,482  3,480 1.29  
HEROES NBC  5,343  3,480 1.54  
OFFICE NBC  5,431  3,480 1.56  

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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. 

*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. I honestly have no idea what criteria the CW will use in keeping or not keeping Everybody Hates Chris and The Game. Because of that, and the recent renewals at other networks of poor rated comedies, I'm indicating renewal for them.

(1) 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.

(2) Friday Night Lights. Even for Friday night, those numbers are turn out the lights awful. But last season, DirecTV pulled out its checkbook and the show continued for another season. If DirecTV (or someone else) is inclined to do it again, the numbers may not matter at all. If they're not inclined to write the check again, the show's certain to be cancelled at the end of this season.

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: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved. All viewership numbers are Live+SD.

 
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