Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles moves to 8pm Friday this week. Its results on Mondays last Fall were the 3rd worst for any Fox scripted show. With those results on a Monday it would certainly have been cancelled at the end of the season. How well does it have to do on Fridays to be renewed?
On Friday, expectations by the network may be different, owing to the perceptions of the difficulty in maintaining successful scripted shows that night. While the number of people watching television is only about 15% lower than it is on Thursday night, the broadcast networks have put themselves in somewhat of a chicken and egg situation. Except for CBS, which has seen some success, the other broadcast networks have either programmed cheap unscripted shows on the night, or made Friday the dumping ground for their scripted shows that were either failures elsewhere (Lipstick Jungle), cost subsidized (Friday Night Lights), or strategic leftovers (The Game, Everybody Hates Chris).
So the question is, what 18-49 demo rating does Terminator need on Friday to return next season? (Total viewership is meaningless to the future of the show, and every show) Unfortunately, there is little experience to draw on except at CBS. No other network renewed a Friday scripted show from last season to this season. Forget Friday Night Lights. It survives, and will only continue to survive, because of subsidies from DirecTV, so we can't compare it to any other show. With a subsidy, FNL has no future.
If we assume that Fox may follow CBS's lead and give Terminator a lower hurdle on Friday, what might it be? Last season, the CBS Friday shows Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs were renewed with 79% and 73% of the network's overall adults 18-49 demo audience. This season, prior to the American Idol premiere, the Fox season to date adults 18-49 viewership average was 3.53 million, or approximately a 2.7 adults 18-49 rating. So for Terminator to reach 73% of that level, it would need an 18-49 demo audience of 2.58 million and a 1.98 18-49 demo rating.
Those calculations match up fairly well with what my gut tells me. If Terminator can sustain more than a 2.0 demo rating, it has a reasonable chance of being renewed. Below that, and Terminator is going to be cancelled.
Sadly, and I'm a fan of the show, I don't think that's going to happen. I will predict a sustained 1.7 rating for the show on Friday.
If you want to take more of an above the benchmark "floor" approach to what Terminator needs (as commenter Nick C. suggested Fox might be), last Friday night the ultra-cheap Cops (half new, half repeat) averaged a 1.4 rating. A repeat of House two weeks ago also did a 1.4 rating. Obviously, Terminator would need to do better than that to be renewed, but how much better?
How well do you think it needs to do to be renewed and not cancelled? How well do you think Terminator will do on Friday's?
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