This is the final Renew or Cancel Index for the 2008-9 Broadcast TV Season (September 08 - May 09). The Index will return again to predict the fate of your favorite broadcast scripted shows in September, 2009.
The results, as they say, are in. The end of the 2008-9 broadcast TV season has left its typical trail of canceled shows, but also some surprises in the shows that were renewed for next season. Along with the final numbers for the season, I'll propose some caveats that I'll apply to my predictions next season.
For the 2007-8 season, the Renew/Cancel Index line fell quite dramatically at 0.92. The future of a show was nearly directly related to its adults 18-49 average viewers divided by its networks 18-49 average viewers. 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.
For this season (2008-9) the results were far less clear. Many shows that were renewed fell far below an Index of 0.92, The New Adventures of Old Christine (a Wednesday show) was renewed with an Index of 0.67. Dollhouse (on Friday) was renewed with an Index of 0.56. Likewise, some shows with Indexes well above last year's line were canceled: My Name is Earl (1.05), Reaper (1.14), Worst Week (1.00). The strategy of culling your low performing shows to try and raise your ratings average results took a back seat to other factors this season.
Reasons shows were renewed when they fell far below the "Renew/Cancel Index" line:
1. Friday time slot: Less is expected from shows on Fridays.
Dollhouse (see also #4), Numb3rs, Ghost Whisperer.
2. Syndication economics: Either the producer is willing to accept a cheap deal to achieve enough episodes for syndication, or a production company/network corporate pair is willing to accept lower ratings/advertising revenues in exchange for future syndication profits. Seems to apply only to comedies?
'Til Death, Scrubs, Ugly Betty, New Adventures of Old Christine
3. Subsidy from a 3rd Party
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV), Flashpoint (CTV)
4. No systematic explanation
Gary Unmarried. Did CBS want to keep the same 2 comedies trying for the elusive second comedy block?
Better Off Ted. Did the 6 episodes already paid for factor into the cost factor for next season?
Dollhouse. It's not just Friday at work here. Rumor is that the budget is being cut to reality show levels.
Reasons shows were canceled when they fell far above the "Renew/Cancel Index" line:
1. Plum time slot, Average ratings:revenge? That will have to wait for another post
Worst Week, Eleventh Hour, Surviving Suburbia, Samantha Who?
2. The Jay Leno Show Time Grab (unlikely to be repeated)
My Name is Earl, Medium (although picked up by CBS), maybe Kath & Kim
3. Wrong Show On the Wrong Network (unlikely to be repeated)
4. Producer fatigue?
King Of The Hill. Producer fatigue is the conventional wisdom, and I admit, I've got nothing else.
With that, here is the final Renew/Cancel Index list for the 2008-9 broadcast TV season.
June, 2009 edits: Inspired by our relationship with Nielsen, we are removing older, archived, Nielsen data from the site. The tables below are the same as the one published in May, 2009, except the show and network season to date adults 18-49 ratings have been removed. However, the Renew/Cancel Index which was calculated using the removed numbers is the same as before. For reference, the season average 18-49 ratings were ABC: 2.64, CBS: 2.88, NBC: 2.25, CW: 0.78, and Fox: 2.67.
Canceled/Not Returning, Renewed, Both.
|Renew/ Cancel index|
|TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES||FOX||0.47|
|SIT DOWN SHUT UP||FOX||0.52|
|FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS||NBC||0.58|
|DO NOT DISTURB||FOX||0.60|
|IN THE MOTHERHOOD||ABC||0.61|
|ACCORDING TO JIM-TU 9:30P||ABC||0.64|
|EX LIST, THE||CBS||0.66|
|BETTER OFF TED||ABC||0.68|
|DIRTY SEXY MONEY||ABC||0.72|
|EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS||CW||0.76|
|LIFE ON MARS||ABC||0.83|
|MY OWN WORST ENEMY||NBC||0.89|
|KATH & KIM||NBC||0.93|
|WITHOUT A TRACE||CBS||0.94|
|SURVIVING SUBURBIA (limbo)||ABC||0.98|
|KING OF THE HILL||FOX||1.01|
|MY NAME IS EARL||NBC||1.07|
|PARKS AND RECREATION||NBC||1.07|
|BROTHERS & SISTERS||ABC||1.29|
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 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. For NBC, I removed the effects of the week entirely from its 18-49 season to date average. 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.
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 (which is an average 18-49of 2.1).
Life moved to Wednesday beginning November 5. The numbers above are 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.
UNSCRIPTED SHOWS FOR ALL NETWORKS
For unscripted shows, the results from last season were far less cut and dried. A similar relationship did seem to hold between 18-49 averages, but some unscripted shows survived with very low numbers. My conclusion was that some unscripted shows must be so cheap that they are expected to do little more than fill air time and produce little in the way of viewership. Since we, and you, don't care much about unscripted shows, and the Index isn't all that good in predicting their future, I don't worry about predictions, but here is the data for reference.
Here is the final list of unscripted show results from the 2008-9 broadcast season.
|Program||Net||Renew/ Cancel index|
|HOLE IN WALL-SUN 7P||FOX||0.37|
|IN HARM'S WAY||CW||0.38|
|HOLE IN WALL-SUN 7:30P||FOX||0.45|
|GAME SHOW IN MY HEAD 830P||CBS||0.45|
|SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER||FOX||0.49|
|GAME SHOW IN MY HEAD||CBS||0.49|
|AMERICA'S TOUGHEST JOBS||NBC||0.49|
|DEAL OR NO DEAL||NBC||0.53|
|HOWIE DO IT 8:30||NBC||0.53|
|HOWIE DO IT 8P||NBC||0.53|
|DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS||FOX||0.56|
|SAT NIGHT FTBL PRE-GAME||ABC||0.57|
|DEAL OR NO DEAL-FRI||NBC||0.58|
|HOLE IN WALL THU-8P||FOX||0.64|
|13 - FEAR IS REAL||CW||0.64|
|MILLION DOLLAR PASSWORD||CBS||0.66|
|AMW: AMERICA FIGHTS BACK||FOX||0.67|
|HOLE IN WALL THU-8:30P||FOX||0.75|
|AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS||ABC||0.83|
|FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 2||NBC||0.84|
|PRIMETIME:WHAT WOULD U DO||ABC||0.87|
|DEAL OR NO DEAL-WED||NBC||0.89|
|SUPERSTARS OF DANCE||NBC||0.98|
|FOX NASCAR SPRINT CUP PST||FOX||1.01|
|SAT NIGHT FOOTBALL||ABC||1.02|
|FOX NASCAR SPRINT CUP||FOX||1.38|
|FOOTBALL NT AMERICA PT 3||NBC||1.42|
|DANCING W/STARS RESULTS||ABC||1.44|
|SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK||NBC||1.87|
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.
All ratings are Live+SD.