Outrunning The Cancellation Bear: Why Relative Ratings Matter For Your Favorite TV Shows

Categories: 2-Featured,Cancel/Renew Index,RC2

Written By

September 24th, 2012

When the new broadcast television season begins on September 24, so will the fan laments over their favorite shows.

"Oh no! It needs to get a 2.0 rating to survive!"

"That's too much of a drop, it'll never make it!"

"Look at how well Big Bang Theory did, my show's a goner!"

Fortunately for fans of individual TV shows, their renewal and cancellation decisions are a lot like the old joke about two guys being chased by a bear.

You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy!

In the broadcast TV world, for scripted shows "the other guy" is the other scripted shows on the same network. And you don't have to outrun them all, even being a little below average in the adults 18-49 ratings (~10%) for the show's network still means pretty certain renewal.

Fans wanting to see where their favorite broadcast scripted shows stack up on a relative basis vs. the other shows on their network should read our Renew / Cancel Index posts beginning tomorrow with posts for NBC and Fox. next Tuesday October 2. After that, I will have new posts for each broadcast network every Tuesday with the newest ratings results and updated renewal and cancellation projections once they have premiered new shows.

You can always reach our latest Renew / Cancel Index posts by clicking on the Renew / Cancel link in the white navigation bar above.

This season you can follow the Cancellation Bear on Twitter via @TheCancelBear. The Cancellation Bear will retweet all the Renew/Cancel Index post titles and URLs as well as engage in a little more back and forth banter than we do on our standard @TVbytheNumbers Twitter feed.

Note: Of course, it's the absolute ratings that matter to each network's bottom line. So when all the shows on a particular network have ratings drops, it's not bad news for any one of the shows in particular, but it is bad news for the network.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Posting the Index tomorrow for Fox and NBC may still not catch Mob Doctor in time, assuming it goes live at 2pm or later as in seasons past.”

    The 2pm Eastern time was a limitation based on workload prior to Sara and Amanda joining us. Now that they are here, the bear will be ready to go much earlier each Tuesday!

  • SpenB

    @Richard Steven Hack

    Fringe was sold into non-exclusive syndication on the Science Channel, and exclusive streaming rights were sold to Amazon (which was reportedly in a bidding war with Netflix and Hulu).

  • Dan

    I dont think The Mob Doctor will be cancelled tomorrow. FOX might wait until wednesday even if the final ratings are in. Once they piece together what will air in place of The Mob Doctor than they could put together a schedule. They dont need to rush with new programming because they only have October 1 and 8 until Baseball interferes. My guess is Mob Doctor could be replaced with Bones repeats on those dates.

  • Big Toe

    When’s the bubble watch coming back?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Big Toe: see my comment here.

  • chris

    @ Bill – Will Up All Night’s paltry 1.3 premier have some spotlight in NBC’s R/C index tomorrow?

  • Ally

    This article did not answer the question in its title, it only restated the premise.

  • eridapo


    Does the cancellation bear use Olympic scoring for its index(throw out one High and one Low score to create the average index).

  • Barbie

    Dan, you’re certainly pessimistic about CSI:NY. I think they’ll go for a full 10th season before cancelling it. It gets a consistent 8.9/8.something on a Friday night for CBS. They could have canceled it, and kept Miami, but they balanced out the pros and cons. I’d bet my money on two seasons left of CSI:NY.

  • Jess C

    I think Hawaii Five 0 should be cancelled after this season. Ratings are bad and the show has gone downhill fast season 2 and 3.

  • J-Boy

    LOL! Tell that to Secret Circle fans! The Secret Circle outran many other shows on CW and was still cancelled!

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