Friday Night Lights Fans Hope The Check Is In The Mail

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February 10th, 2009

Since Friday Night Lights was saved from being cancelled last season by a big check from DirecTV, I bet DirecTV has been put on the call list for every dying shows desperate fans. The switchboard at DTV must be getting pretty busy these days. Friday Night Lights fans better hope they're writing another check for their show's next season, because otherwise it's cancelled for sure.

This is a breakdown of NBC scripted shows and their renewal and cancellation prospects.  Here are the others:

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  3,440 0.34  finished
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS NBC  1,901  3,440 0.55  
LIPSTICK JUNGLE NBC  1,969  3,440 0.57  cancelled
KNIGHT RIDER NBC  2,487  3,440 0.72  
LIFE (WED) NBC  2,519  3,440 0.73  
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC  2,636  3,440 0.77  cancelled
KATH & KIM NBC  2,915  3,440 0.85  
LAW AND ORDER NBC  3,098  3,440 0.90  
MY NAME IS EARL NBC  3,328  3,440 0.97  
CHUCK NBC  3,403  3,440 0.99  
MEDIUM NBC  3,863  3,440 1.12  
E.R. NBC  4,152  3,440 1.21  final season
30 ROCK NBC  4,249  3,440 1.24  
LAW AND ORDER:SVU NBC  4,507  3,440 1.31  
HEROES NBC  5,337  3,440 1.55  
OFFICE NBC  5,451  3,440 1.58  


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. I have adjusted the NBC adults 18-49 season to date average to remove the increase (of 370,000) it received during the Super Bowl week because that increase had nothing to do with the normal viewership of the network or any of its other shows.


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.

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.

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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