Bubble Watch: Misinterpreted Mayan Writings Don't Kill TV Shows, Business Models Do

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

December 16th, 2012

Image credit: "HodariNundu" you can see a larger version here.

This will be the last Bubble Watch until after the holidays, or for the doomsday crowd, the last bubble watch ever! It's as easy to predict that Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 will live on past December 21 as it is to predict many people will disagree with some of the designations below - which, by the way, have not changed since last week. Yep, I'm mailing it in this week, blame a weakness for spiked egg nog...

Bears don't kill TV shows either though  the image of a bear chasing a TV show around is certainly more entertaining  (at least to me!) than a table with a list of shows and how things are shaping up.

Generally speaking, horrible ratings *do* kill shows, but because it's the relative ratings for a network that matter, it's more precise to go with "business models." CBS cancels shows with ratings that are bad for CBS that would be fantastic for other networks. Among the reasons that other networks simply don't pick up shows in CBS's scrap heap is those networks fully realize the shows wouldn't perform nearly as well in the ratings on their networks as they performed on CBS.

I had a healthy respect for business models even before we launched TV by the Numbers, but I have an even healthier respect now. When we launched the site I figured we'd be focusing much more on how the networks' existing business models were getting crushed by changes (DVR, On Demand, Netflix, etc.). There's certainly some interest in that, but it is teeny tiny compared to interest in whether shows will be cancelled or renewed.

There's lots of stuff we don't do that some people would certainly be very interested in. Some of those things we're even very interested in ourselves, but sadly, there's not enough interest in them to justify the cost of production. Even here at TV by the Numbers where the financial stakes are much lower, we have our versions of "666 Park Avenue" and "Last Resort"  that we scrap or never get around to doing to begin with. Those decisions don't always please us or all of our readers, but they make sense for our business model.

Either way, long after December 21, 2012 TV shows -- fan favorites among them -- will be canceled.

Happy holidays!

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** (2013-14).  Certain shows are toss-ups where based on the ratings, the renewal decisions could go either way and not be surprising.

Here, “canceled” is used interchangeably with “won’t be renewed for next season” and is not meant to imply a show will be yanked off the schedule in the current season though obviously the two outcomes are not mutually exclusive. The semantics police and lawyers should feel free to break out the handcuffs and plead their cases in the comments. 

This Isn't The Renew/Cancel Index

Though the basic methodology is the same (intra-network relative ranking of shows by adults 18-49 ),unlike the Renew/Cancel Index which predicts what would happen if the season ended now, Bubble Watch prognosticates about what will happen by May. The two are still usually closely aligned, and almost certainly very closely aligned towards the end of the season.

Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.


Show Network Status
666 Park Avenue ABC Canceled
Last Resort ABC Canceled
Made in Jersey CBS Canceled
Partners CBS Canceled
Emily Owens, M.D. CW Canceled
The Mob Doctor Fox Canceled
Animal Practice NBC Canceled
Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 ABC Certain Cancellation
Ben and Kate Fox Certain Cancellation
Vegas CBS Likely Cancellation
Guys with Kids NBC Likely Cancellation
Up All Night NBC Likely Cancellation
Whitney NBC Likely Cancellation
Happy Endings ABC On The Bubble
Last Man Standing ABC On The Bubble
Malibu Country ABC On The Bubble
Nashville ABC On The Bubble
Cleveland Show, The Fox On The Bubble
CSI: NY CBS On The Bubble
The Good Wife CBS On The Bubble
The Mentalist CBS On The Bubble
90210 CW On The Bubble
Hart of Dixie CW On The Bubble
Nikita CW On The Bubble
Beauty and the Beast CW On The Bubble
The Mindy Project Fox On The Bubble
Castle ABC Likely Renewal
Neighbors, The ABC Likely Renewal
Scandal ABC Likely Renewal
Suburgatory ABC Likely Renewal
The Middle ABC Likely Renewal
Elementary CBS Likely Renewal
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Likely Renewal
How I Met Your Mother CBS Likely Renewal
Two and a Half Men CBS Likely Renewal
Bones Fox Likely Renewal
Chicago Fire NBC Likely Renewal
Law & Order: SVU NBC Likely Renewal
Parks & Recreation NBC Likely Renewal
The New Normal NBC Likely Renewal
Grey's Anatomy ABC Certain Renewal
Modern Family ABC Certain Renewal
Once Upon a Time ABC Certain Renewal
Revenge ABC Certain Renewal
2 Broke Girls CBS Certain Renewal
Blue Bloods CBS Certain Renewal
Criminal Minds CBS Certain Renewal
CSI CBS Certain Renewal
Mike & Molly CBS Certain Renewal
NCIS CBS Certain Renewal
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS Certain Renewal
Person of Interest CBS Certain Renewal
Arrow CW Certain Renewal
Supernatural CW Certain Renewal
The Vampire Diaries CW Certain Renewal
Glee Fox Certain Renewal
New Girl Fox Certain Renewal
Raising Hope Fox Certain Renewal
Go On NBC Certain Renewal
Grimm NBC Certain Renewal
Parenthood NBC Certain Renewal
Revolution NBC Certain Renewal
The Big Bang Theory CBS Renewed
American Dad Fox Renewed
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Family Guy Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Private Practice ABC Canceled/Final Season
Gossip Girl CW Final Season
Fringe Fox Final Season
30 Rock NBC Final Season
The Office NBC Final Season
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  • Joseph

    I thought that the Cancellation Bear was the one who cancels TV shows, not misinterpreted Mayan writings or business decisions!


  • Maximillian

    Nashville could be huge. They need to put it on a better night. The songs do pretty well on iTunes, I wonder if they will take that into account during renewal time (over a million sold singles already and growing, and one of the songs has charted on the country charts and climbing).

  • Tessa

    @Casey: Nothing is changed in the model because it won’t make anyone more money if they changed it, not because it won’t change the face of the ratings. Nielsen, accurate or not, gives the industry people the data they need. It’s true that the whole landscape of ratings would change if they came up with a new system that counted the DVR viewings, the online viewings and the illegal downloads. But why do it? And who would benefit from it? The only thing the ad sponsors care about are those who watch their ads during the live broadcast when they can’t skip them, and the current system provides that data well enough.

  • chezmoi

    I would not be surprised if one day a network asks you to pursue some of those teeny tiny things confidentially on their behalf – private consultancy.
    Thank you for the above and an explanation of what this is all about. There is nothing like this for free in the UK?

  • reidjr

    If you over do it with The Voice you might turn people away as they get sick of it they have to keep going after sitcoms at some point they will find a winner.

  • Nick

    @Austin Lauran

    There’s nothing wrong with anchoring a network on an unscripted or sports show. However, with The Voice and SNF, the problem is that they’re not on for the full season. NBC needs a scripted show to support the network during the time in Jan-Mar when neither The Voice or SNF are on. It looks like they have one for next year, though, with the new Michael J Fox family comedy.

  • Matt

    Earlier this week you changed csi ny to likely cancelation, did you change your mind or just forget to change it?

  • sara

    About the business models, I have been interested in how networks work in demographic specifics such as disposable income, if they do. Ford advertising its most expensive cars to a large audience made up of people in the under $29,000 income group makes no sense no matter how many of them there are. Looking at my own experience, the regular, watching shows as they air on network television audience is made up of lower educated, lower income people. The college graduates I know, especially those under 35, get almost all, if not all, of their entertainment on their computers through Hulu, Itunes, etc. The key demographic for certain products are simply not watching network television. Will advertisements for these high end products simple disappear from networks, will they turn to product placement in select shows or will there be more advertising openings on computer access sites?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Matt: I am not Bill and this isn’t the renew cancel index. Bill has had CSI:NY as likely cancellation since the CBS mid season schedule came out, but that info didn’t lead me to changing the statuses of CBS’s bubble shows here.

  • Petar Ivanov

    NBC find a hit show and that is Revolution. Its their highest grossing scripted show tie with other hit dramas like CBS-NCIS and ABC Once upon a time.(even at 10) Go On will be stalbe for them and without The Voice. Now NBC must find one more drama and one more comedy next season on that level. If Smash is ok on tuesday, and Chicafo fire stay stable and Hannible do well, they can try beat fox for second place. NBC still have Dracula and pirates drama and full season comedy. I expect them to try take #1 spot with super bowl 2015.

    By the way for KS and all our fans in England and all GB(know that GB is may be second fanbase after US fans for tv by the numbers)

    U.K.’s Sky1 Acquires ‘Revolution’

    Now all people in GB can watch ‘legally’ RVN.

  • Nick

    My prediction is: The Cancellation Bear will join the cockroaches as the only ones to survive the apocalypse! ;)

  • Petar Ivanov


    The good wife is already a ‘disaster’ for CBS. Its 1.5 in demo below the 9 pm pack. If they give it final season will be like Blue bloods or csi ny not for ratings but for syndicatiom purpose.

    Now i agree that CBS problem with Sunday at 9 is big. May be Elementary is their best shot for that slot. Just not see what other option they have. Only other possible CBS option is completly new show…….wich i think will collapse so fast that will be nightmare. And that is why CBS won’t do that. If Elementary (at least) can stay at 2.0 level think CBS will say that this is good enough for them.



  • Petar Ivanov

    @On Sunday, it would face The Walking Dead, Dexter and Revenge so it’ll die and The Mentalist too.

    Well actually revenge was moved from 10 pm in wednesday and perform well. If was on wednesday now think will be worse. But if Elementary can’t beat Scandal will lose and from revenge too.

  • Petar Ivanov

    Jennifer lawrence to host SNL yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss

    simon cowell next x factor savior is Rihanna.(how many of these he will try)

    And a litle news from Europe – TM big hit in France. Arrow in UK.

  • Austin Lauran


    The NBC & ABC execs should totally get rid of all their scripted shows that aren’t cop shows or laugh track sitcoms (Excluding Modern Family). Viewers aren’t burned out by how many cop shows & laugh track sitcoms are on CBS.

  • Melissa

    @Austin Lauran

    If Grey’s Anatomy & Modern Family weren’t airing on ABC, how low would ABC’s scripted average be? Would it be lower or higher than NBC’s?

    ABC’s current scripted average is a 2.2. Without Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family, ABC’s scripted average would only fall two tenths to a 2.0, which is still ahead of NBC’s current scripted average of a 1.8.

    These are the current scripted averages for all the networks:

    1. CBS – 2.7
    2. ABC – 2.2
    3. FOX – 2.0
    4. NBC – 1.8
    5. CW – 0.7

  • reidjr

    There has been some rumors that Hannible could have a summer run.

  • Nick


    Do you think NBC and ABC should air cop dramas and laugh track sitcoms to catch up with CBS?

    No!! ABC has their own specific brand. Family comedies (Modern Family, The Middle), female-skewing scifi/thriller (Once Upon a Time, Revenge), and comedy procedurals (Castle, Body of Proof). The only problems they’ve had is wen they go outside their brand (Last Resort, Work It, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, The River, Pan Am).
    NBC and Fox have to develop their own brands to succeed.

  • omabin



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