The headline on the post by Ad Age's Brian Steinberg of "The Calculus of Canceling TV Shows" makes it out to be more rocket science than the basic math that it actually is. Multiplication and division are involved, but if you got out of elementary school, you should be able to keep up.
Gripes with the headlining aside, Steinberg does a pretty good job and the post is definitely worth reading. He explains things like why DVR viewers -- especially people prone to watching shows more than a week after they recorded them -- don't matter:
That's not a reason for a network to keep a show on the air. Yes, TV networks like to boast that the audiences for their programs expand the longer DVR users have to watch their video backlogs, but the simple fact is that advertisers don't want to pay for people who watch their commercials a week or more after they air. Marketers have movies to launch and sales to open. They are only willing to pay for people who watch ads as many as three days later -- and even the value of those audiences is in dispute.
Steinberg does give credence to theory of ultra-competitive time slots and lists all the competitive hurdles Lone Star had to jump through. Indeed, the aggregate 18-49 ratings for NBC, ABC and CBS the first couple of Mondays was very strong. But that theory never quite adds up for me.
Yes, premiere Monday at 9pm was stronger than last Tuesday at 8pm when No Ordinary Family launched. But not so much stronger that it accounts for why No Ordinary Family had a relatively successful launch while Lone Star's launch was a miserable failure.