Fans Will Stay Nervous While CBS Is On Cruise Control Until May

No news out of CBS this week, no new shows, not much movement in the Index (neither is there likely to be). With only the limited run Harper’s Island yet to premiere, there’s not likely much happening with the numbers until CBS makes its announcements on or before its upfront presentation on May 20.

With CBS on cruise control it leaves a basket of shows in danger  (The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, The Unit, Cold Case, Without A Trace, Worst Week), but several of them aren’t doing that badly. But those shows have a lot of fans that have a lot of nervous days between now and May 20.

The Friday shows (Flashpoint, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs)  all have low Indexes, but lower expectations (or costs) as well, they look safe. As for Eleventh Hour, the Index says its coming back and I’m sticking with it. Those hoping I dine on crow may have their best chance with it.

Here’s some past quotes to think about; CBS Chief Les Moonves says “CBS Only Has Room For 3 or 4 New Shows Next Season”, and Entertainment President Nina Tassler says about the Wednesday comedy block “We’ve improved the time period, so it’s something we’d like to stick with.” as well as CBS doing a bit of public negotiating to knock down the prices on Cold Case and Without A Trace.

This is a breakdown of CBS 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, Renewal Announced.

PROGRAM Net  STD 18-49 (LIVE+SD) (000)  Network Avg. STD 18-49 Renew/ Cancel index Status
THE EX-LIST CBS  2,443  3,860 0.63  cancelled
FLASHPOINT CBS  2,629  3,860 0.68  
OLD CHRISTINE CBS  2,680  3,860 0.69  
GARY UNMARRIED CBS  2,883  3,860 0.75  
NUMB3RS CBS  2,911  3,860 0.75  
THE UNIT CBS  3,078  3,860 0.80  
GHOST WHISPERER CBS  3,351  3,860 0.87  
COLD CASE CBS  3,471  3,860 0.90  
WITHOUT A TRACE CBS  3,500  3,860 0.91  
ELEVENTH HOUR CBS  3,770  3,860 0.98  
WORST WEEK CBS  3,835  3,860 0.99  
CSI: NY CBS  4,331  3,860 1.12  
NCIS CBS  4,524  3,860 1.17  
MENTALIST, THE CBS  4,626  3,860 1.20  
BIG BANG THEORY, THE CBS  4,632  3,860 1.20  
CRIMINAL MINDS CBS  4,731  3,860 1.23  
CSI: MIAMI CBS  4,782  3,860 1.24  
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER CBS  4,905  3,860 1.27  
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT CBS  5,094  3,860 1.32  
TWO AND A HALF MEN CBS  6,214  3,860 1.61  
CSI CBS  6,407  3,860 1.66  


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.

The New Adventures of Old Christine:  CBS has tried to create a second “comedy block” this season on Wednesday by moving Christine from Monday and slotting freshman Gary Unmarried. Both have been among CBS’s worst scripted performers, but will Christine be given the benefit of the doubt?

Worst Week got the best slot in CBS’s lineup for a new comedy, but has performed just below average for the net. Reports are that CBS expected much more in that prime timeslot and that Worst Week will not be coming back next season.

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

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