When it comes to bubble status, like the Renew/Cancel Index we're focusing on the likelihood that a show will be renewed for next season (2011-12). Certain shows are toss-ups where based on the ratings, the renewal decisions could go either way and not be surprising.
Not much has changed in the numeric landscape over the last few weeks, but V premiered this week and I’ve had several requests for a discussion about Cougar Town. We are now up to 18 shows that are either already canceled, certain to be canceled or likely to be canceled. Here's the recap:
|The Whole Truth||ABC||Already Canceled|
|My Generation||ABC||Already Canceled|
|Detroit 1-8-7||ABC||Certain to be Canceled|
|No Ordinary Family||ABC||Likely to be Canceled|
|V||ABC||Likely to be Canceled|
|The Defenders||CBS||Likely to be Canceled|
|Life Unexpected||CW||Certain to be Canceled|
|The Event||NBC||Likely to be Canceled|
|Chase||NBC||Certain to be Canceled|
|Fringe||FOX||Likely to be Canceled|
|The Good Guys||FOX||Already Canceled|
|Human Target||FOX||Likely to be Canceled|
|Lie to Me||FOX||Likely to be Canceled|
|Lone Star||FOX||Already Canceled|
|Running Wilde||FOX||Already Canceled|
Any designation I'd give V is bound to generate more than its fair share of chatter. Some of that is deserved because based on the numbers at the end of season one, it should’ve been canceled after last season. It wasn’t, and that wasn’t the DVR numbers or the international licensing or potential DVD revenue (V is produced by Warner Bros so ABC wouldn’t benefit by any of that). Your best bet is that it was renewed for the sake of appearances. By renewing it ABC could at least try to spin that not every one hour scripted drama it launched in the 2009-10 season was a failure.
That mentality could bode well for fans of the upcoming Off the Map and Body of Proof, but ABC changed chiefs after last season, so if those shows are low-rated, he can simply wipe the slate clean and blame the old regime.
Here is the index for just the most recent 7 days of scripted originals on ABC*:
|Better With You||0.89|
|Brothers & Sisters||0.86|
|No Ordinary Family||0.68|
*these are calendar week #s for the last 7 days rather than the Nielsen week (which runs from Monday to Sunday) used by the Renew/Cancel Index. I wrote this on Sunday morning and didn’t have Sunday night’s numbers yet! But Desperate Housewives could go up or down .3 of a ratings point with adults 18-49 and it won't change the relative landscape.
After only one week of data, V is not on the bubble, it’s likely to be canceled. There’s a case to be made that it’s just below the threshold where it could at least be considered “on the bubble.” But it is below that threshold, plus it seems way more likely to trend down then up. If it trends up and everything else trends down, its status will change. But there’s no way to paint a pretty picture with the current numbers. If you want to use Olympic scoring and throw out the high and low scores (Modern Family and Detroit 187) they effectively cancel each other out and the overall average remains nearly identical.
Should Cougar Town be on the Bubble?
I’ve received a few comments that Cougar Town should be designated “on the bubble.” People who obsess on retention regularly have their claws out for Cougar Town. The reason we don’t care about retention is because it isn’t predictive of renewal and cancellation fates. Sure, we make fun of “retentionistas” but that’s usually just us giving into our juvenile natures when we see crazy fans celebrating a 2.2 adults 18-49 rating with 90% retention while at the same time mocking a show with a 3.0 adults 18-49 rating and 70% retention.
But that’s not the same as saying we think ABC doesn't care about retention. Of course ABC would like to have a show with great retention out of Modern Family. Cougar Town's retention is pretty lousy (last week it was below 60%), but what it does have is average ratings for ABC. Networks aren’t prone to cancelling shows with average ratings. If Cougar Town’s ratings drop another 15% and the rest of the field stays the same (or goes up), it’s a different story.
ABC will be trying Mr. Sunshine in Cougar Town’s 9:30pm slot. If Mr. Sunshine does a lot better than Cougar Town, it will be interesting to see what ABC does with Cougar Town. But if Mr. Sunshine does about the same as Cougar Town, the edge is Cougar Town’s (it’s produced by ABC while Mr. Sunshine is a Sony production). If Mr. Sunshine fares no better, that won’t stop ABC from trying something else out of Modern Family next season, but I wouldn't expect that to yield a Cougar Town cancellation after this season.
Though I’m not designating Cougar Town as being on the bubble, there is a case to be made from a consistency standpoint for the Renew/Cancel Index. Bill has been designating American Dad as a toss up (on the bubble) because Fox is trying out Bob’s Burgers. Meanwhile, ABC is trying out Mr. Sunshine, but with similarly average ratings Cougar Town remains “all smiles” in the Renew/Cancel reports.
That's likely an issue of having some past history, much in the same way that $#*! My Dad Says is on the bubble because CBS has a history of canceling its lowest rated sitcom even if it has average ratings. There is some similar history with Fox getting rid of its lowest-rated animation when it brings in a new one that performs well. While the CBS situation is clear to me, for me, the Fox situation is murkier so I haven’t listed American Dad as on the bubble. But the situation at ABC is still different because Fox is pretty much locked-in to animations being on Sunday where there are only four slots. ABC doesn't have the same limitations with sitcoms.
|Better With You||ABC|
|$#*! My Dad Says||CBS|
|The Good Wife||CBS|
|Law & Order: LA||NBC|