Dollhouse's Future In The Balance

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March 3rd, 2009

dollhouse2The ratings for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse have not been good, but Fox's experiment with "Remote Free TV" during the show and its resulting reportedly higher C+3 commercial ratings (what I hear from credible sources, I have not seen the numbers) than would be indicated by its show ratings has its future still hanging in the balance. I'm certain that all 13 episodes of Dollhouse will air this season, so the results of the later shows, and their ratings trend, will matter a lot more than the shows that have already aired.

As for Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles there is no such doubt. It's going to be canceled at the end of the season. It moved to Friday to get a second chance and crashed. There was quite a stir this week when the DVR numbers for the week of the TSCC move to Friday were revealed. Yes, TSCC got a big boost, as Friday shows and 10pm shows often do. But even at its "boosted" levels it still did terribly in the important adults 18-49 demo. Here are the Live+7 18-49 demo ratings for the first week with a Friday airing of TSCC. TSCC numbers are on the order of the crime reality dreck on Saturday, and that was for the first episode, it's Live+SD ratings have fallen since then. 

Live+7, Adults 18-49 rating for the week of Feb 9-15
American Idol-WEDNESDAY 10.33
American Idol-TUESDAY 10.12
Fringe 5.01
Family Guy 4.37
24 4.14
Simpsons 3.49
American Dad 3.13
COPS 2 2.02
COPS 1.72
AMER DAD SP-2/15 7:30P(S)-02/15/2009 1.59
40TH NAACP IMAGE AWARDS(S)-02/12/2009 1.4

For those of you inhabiting a dreamland where you imagine I predicted TSCC would be canceled at the end of season one, and then again in January of this year, wake up for a moment while I set the record straight:

Last spring, I predicted that TSCC would come back for a second season. The words I used were "Guaranteed Return".

I never predicted that TSCC would be canceled by January. Last fall, my prediction was always that it would be canceled by May.

The most anyone can point to, and desperate fans have already done so, is that when TSCC was given its "back 9" order this season I commented that I was surprised it had gotten it so early in the process. I still am surprised it happened so early, but not surprised it happened at all.

If you choose, you may return to your dreamland now.

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

Our Renew / Cancel index predicts potential renewal for *next* season: Canceled/Not Returning, In Danger, or Renewal Likely for 2009-10.

PROGRAM Net STD 18-49 (LIVE+SD) (000) Network Avg. STD 18-49 Renew/ Cancel index Status
DO NOT DISTURB FOX 2,097 3,530 0.59 cancelled
DOLLHOUSE FOX 2,344 3,530 0.66
TIL DEATH FOX 2,364 3,530 0.67
PRISON BREAK FOX 2,988 3,530 0.85 final season
American Dad FOX 3,590 3,530 1.02
KING OF THE HILL FOX 3,810 3,530 1.08 final season
BONES FOX 4,035 3,530 1.14
Simpsons FOX 4,220 3,530 1.20
Family Guy FOX 4,537 3,530 1.29
Fringe FOX 4,586 3,530 1.30
24 FOX 5,228 3,530 1.48
Lie To Me FOX 6,008 3,530 1.70
HOUSE FOX 6,212 3,530 1.76


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. Note that the Fox average used above is its final Season to Date average prior to American Idol (see below).


Prison Break is in its final season.

'Til Death has done terribly, and has been off Fox’s schedule since October, Sony Pictures has reportedly made Fox such a sweet deal for future episodes that Fox has bought another entire season, proving that at a low enough price that even a ratings black hole is worth suffering through.

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles: The numbers above are for only its Friday airings that began on February 13, 2009. FYI, It's 13 episode 18-49 average on Monday this season was 2.726 million.

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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