Bubble Watch: Will The Olympics Have NBC Back In Bed With 'Community' and 'Whitney?'

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

May 5th, 2013

Whitney - Season 2

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.

Last Bubble Watch of the 2012-13 Season

If history holds, we'll know all renewals and cancellations from the 2012-13 season by the end of next Friday, May 10, so by next Sunday nothing will be on the bubble.

Not much new this week, but Family Tools debuted on the list with cancellation predicted.  So what of the 7 shows remaining on the bubble? Here's an early glimpse at some of my "Oddsmakers" picks for Tuesday's Renew/Cancel posts where Bill & I will give our "percentage of renewal" chances picks for all shows not already renewed or canceled (not just bubble shows). My percentages for the bubble shows could change (dramatically) between then and now.

Body of Proof:  I'm leaning towards renewal (55%).

How to Live With Your Parents: not a lot of ratings history to make a pick,  and it's ratings are in the "could go either way" band. A true toss-up! But, 50% in oddsmakers is cowardly, so leaning towards cancellation (45% chance of renewal).

Malibu Country:  If ABC sticks with a Friday comedy block, it definitely has a shot, but even then I'm leaning towards cancellation (40% chance of renewal).

Rules of Engagement: Unlike the others, this one isn't a true toss-up based on ratings. But its ratings have been good enough where wheeling and dealing (Sony is involved in the show's production) to keep the show around as schedule spackle didn't seem completely ridiculous. But I'm more than leaning towards cancellation (33% chance of renewal).

Community: Of all the NBC comedy bubble shows, I like Community's chances the least. I'm still leaning towards renewal (55%)

Whitney: More than leaning towards renewal. (75%).

Go On:  Even more more than leaning towards renewal than Whitney (85%)

Speaking of NBC's bubble comedies...

The text below comes from long-time reader Tom Shaw who has thought a lot about renewals, cancellations and scheduling needs. Tom was the person who coined the phrase "schedule spackle" in the comments way back when, so another piece this week involving, you guessed it, schedule spackle. Tom thinks about things much more from a scheduling perspective than I do. I haven't spent any time thinking about what NBC will stick on Fridays next season. Tom has!

Will The Winter Olympics Give Whitney Another Shot?

NBC has a major project for this upcoming season: Rebuilding their comedies. With The Office finished, NBC only has one comedy with the numbers to (barely) warrant renewal: Parks & Recreation. Add the new Michael J Fox show (with 22 episodes), and that still leaves probably two more new shows in Fall (and possibly two more in Spring as well).

Complicating matters is the 2014 Winter Olympics. Running from February 6th to February 23rd, it provides NBC with a platform to launch new comedies on February 27th, but also a problem: they have to come up with shows to cover until January 30th, itself the first day of the February 2014 sweeps.

Let's say NBC starts The Voice on September 9th (and why not, given how well it worked out this year). That means we'll probably see NBC's comedies premiere on September 19th. That gives NBC 20 weeks it has to cover until the Olympics. Even assuming NBC takes weeks off for Thanksgiving, Holiday specials, New Year's, etc., that's well over 13 weeks. I find it unlikely NBC keeps an Animal Practice-level flop on the air until the Olympics.

Or to summarize, NBC will be launching more Thursday comedies than ever before, will have every reason to delay starting new comedies until February, and will need extra episodes to cover until the Olympics. That's the perfect recipe for spackle in bulk. I expect NBC to again schedule an hour of comedy spackle on Fridays.

Now, which shows? That's the difficult question. I expect at least three shows to get spackle orders. In order of likelihood, by my estimation:

  • Go On - Produced by Universal, NBC may want to give it another shot.
  • Whitney - Produced by Universal, held up okay in various time slots.
  • New Normal - Not produced by Universal, and the numbers have dropped to "ugly even for NBC". However, NBC may want to give it another chance, may see some value in keeping Ryan Murphy happy, and may want to demonstrate to showrunners that NBC will give their shows every chance. (If there are any "political" considerations, they are positive.)
  • Community - Yes, it could use 4 more episodes for domestic syndication. However, it already has a cable deal, there are no showrunners NBC wants to keep happy, and numbers have dropped down to nothing special. (I also still wonder if Sony/Comedy Central won't go the Futurama route and give it a made-for-DVD wrap up movie they can chop up into 4 episodes.)
  • 1600 Penn / Guys With Kids - Admittedly only given one chance, but the numbers are bad and there no showrunners NBC will want to keep happy (Fallon should already be covered with The Tonight Show).

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
Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 ABC Canceled
Last Resort ABC Canceled
Private Practice ABC Final Season Finished
Zero Hour ABC Canceled
Made in Jersey CBS Canceled
Partners CBS Canceled
90210 CW Canceled/Final Season
Cult CW Canceled
Emily Owens, M.D. CW Canceled
Gossip Girl CW Final Season Finished
Ben and Kate Fox Canceled
Fringe Fox Final Season Finished
The Mob Doctor Fox Canceled
30 Rock NBC Final Season Finished
Animal Practice NBC Canceled
Do No Harm NBC Canceled
Office, The NBC Final Season
Smash NBC Canceled
Family Tools ABC Cancellation Predicted
Happy Endings ABC Cancellation Predicted
Red Widow ABC Cancellation Predicted
CSI: NY CBS Cancellation Predicted
Golden Boy CBS Cancellation Predicted
Vegas CBS Cancellation Predicted
Carrie Diaries, The CW Cancellation Predicted
Cleveland Show, The Fox Cancellation Predicted
Touch Fox Cancellation Predicted
1600 Penn NBC Cancellation Predicted
Deception NBC Cancellation Predicted
Guys with Kids NBC Cancellation Predicted
Hannibal NBC Cancellation Predicted
Up All Night NBC Cancellation Predicted
The New Normal NBC Cancellation Predicted
Body of Proof ABC On The Bubble
How to Live with Your Parents... ABC On The Bubble
Malibu Country ABC On The Bubble
Rules of Engagement CBS On The Bubble
Community NBC On The Bubble
Go On NBC On The Bubble
Whitney NBC On The Bubble
Castle ABC Renewal Predicted
Revenge ABC Renewal Predicted
Suburgatory ABC Renewal Predicted
Grey's Anatomy ABC Renewal Predicted
Last Man Standing ABC Renewal Predicted
Middle, The ABC Renewal Predicted
Modern Family ABC Renewal Predicted
Nashville ABC Renewal Predicted
Neighbors, The ABC Renewal Predicted
Once Upon a Time ABC Renewal Predicted
Scandal ABC Renewal Predicted
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
Nikita CW Renewal Predicted
Parks & Recreation NBC Renewal Predicted
2 Broke Girls CBS Renewed
Big Bang Theory, The CBS Renewed
Blue Bloods CBS Renewed
CSI CBS Renewed
Elementary CBS Renewed
Good Wife, The CBS Renewed
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewed
How I Met Your Mother CBS Renewed
Mentalist, The CBS Renewed
Mike & Molly CBS Renewed
NCIS CBS Renewed
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS Renewed
Person of Interest CBS Renewed
Two and a Half Men CBS Renewed
Arrow CW Renewed
Beauty and the Beast CW Renewed
Hart of Dixie CW Renewed
Supernatural CW Renewed
Vampire Diaries, The CW Renewed
American Dad Fox Renewed
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Bones Fox Renewed
Family Guy Fox Renewed
Following, The Fox Renewed
Glee Fox Renewed
Mindy Project, The Fox Renewed
New Girl Fox Renewed
Raising Hope Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Chicago Fire NBC Renewed
Grimm NBC Renewed
Law & Order: SVU NBC Renewed
Parenthood NBC Renewed
Revolution NBC Renewed


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  • David

    @Dan S

    NBC better pick up Assisstance! It stars the woman of the unfortunates Don’t Trust the B. if they don’t pick it up because of Whitney Cummings I will be seriously mad! She a,ready has 2 Broke Girls…

  • Oliver

    @Mr Mumble

    Agreed. If they do renew The New Normal then I’d bet on it being pulled within a month due to low ratings. NBC isn’t in a position where they can prop low-rated shows up.

    Then again, Robert Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke are known to be personal friends with Ryan Murphy and that might influence their decision. I hope they’d be fired if it happens.

  • Glenwithme

    Wow every network has done early renewals epect ABC does anyone know if they’ll do then this week ?

  • brad

    IF NBC renews Whitney, it will be for a full 22 episodes (and by default picking it up for a 4th Season). So IF they do, it’ll premier in the Fall. No way would they order 13 episodes.

  • Glenwithme

    Robert please answer my question ^^

  • Josh

    I’m not convinced Whitney has a better shot at renewal than Community. Their ratings over Spring have been pretty much on par, with Community being in a far tougher time slot. Plus I’d think Sony would push to get to a 100-episode syndication, whereas Whitney would need at least 2 full seasons to get close to an 88-episode deal.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Cyrax: other than the predictions for shows still listed as on the bubble, the Neighbors pick is practically the only renewal/cancellation I’m nervous about too!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Glen: I don’t know if there will be a press release announcing renewal next week (they could save all that pomp for the upfronts), but traditionally with some rare exceptions renewals/cancellations for the current seasons’ shows will be *known* press release or no, by the end of Friday 5/10.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    I vote for NBC ordering a bunch of 13ep comedies, starting some the 1st week & once one fails pull it from the schedule & start a new comedy, but plan on using the remaining episodes for spring filler, when they run out of shows to air for the scheduled time slots.

    Also, I’d rather they import some 6 episode comedies from the UK to use for Nov Sweeps to winter Break to replace the failed comedies. Even if they do a solid 13ep run but not worth 22ep, they should opt to double up those British Comedies for 3 weeks of Jan to old them over.

    The comedies they have shouldn’t be renewed, as it will only lower the network average & they won’t make it to syndication to recoup costs. Even P&R is very low & already hit syndication numbers. However, since a complete clean sweep isn’t advisable, esp b/c P&R I doubt will have a proper series finale this year, it can stay. I’d also suggest keeping Community b/c it holds up well against TBBT & P&R does well against TAAHM. However, Whitney is too far away from syndication & even though it seems to be good spackle, the Olympics are spackle enough. Mathew Perry knows now that getting a show to get ratings is “hard luck” & so cancelling Go On isn’t NBC dissing him.

    Rules should only be renewed if they want to go with a new hour of comedy, either on Thursday or Friday & then still only as spackle for whatever slot needs it 2nd (1st is the 4th NEW comedy).

    Body of Proof is decently close to syndication, at the very least stripped. Considering it’s a “procedural” & ABC only has Castle besides them & b/c as spackle it’s ratings do decently well, I say renew it.

    How To Live should be cancelled. I’m on the fence with MC. Though, if they go with 2 full hours on Friday & continue with an hour on Tuesday, they should renew it. Personally, I feel ABC should order more procedurals & cancel a bunch of comedies. Also, they should keep whatever comedies that work well behind The Middle & Modern Family, this year it was Neighbors/Suburgatory, for at least 2 if not 3 years & stop letting them free to be devoured by the bear against FOX/NBC Tues & Friday of Death. I do suggest that they think about for Spring 2014 aka once Fall 2013 Thursday 8pm fails, to try 2 comedies. Yes CBS owns that slot & NBC will have it’s 2 there plus AI will still air there but a spring commitment isn’t that big of a deal as a test. I also think a female procedural for both that slot & the recent Tuesday slot would help out.

  • r0ckmypants

    @CBSViewer – Chuck Lorre’s “Mom” is all but guaranteed a spot in the lineup. And even if they do expand a comedy block, I think Rules will be canceled (which would have CBS debuting 3 new comedies and 2 new dramas).

  • Joe

    I don’t see why Whitney has better odds than Community. They get basically the same ratings, and there’s more advantages to a Community renewal (syndication, better 18-34 ratings)

  • Joe

    Also, if The New Normal is renewed (which sadly I agree isn’t totally out of the question) it would be the dumbest renewal in recent history. It fell to a freaking 0.7!!!

  • Potato

    I hesitated to say Whitney would get picked up before hearing the olympics argument– after all, with 42 episodes, doing another season is basically doing a commitment to the Hail Mary of 88 syndication and being so low rated I didn’t think it likely. However, even if it does get renewed, what does that leave them? Let’s say they want to wait to premiere some shows for olympics, like you said. That leaves them with AT LEAST 4 slots to fill on thursday and probably 2 on tuesday, maybe even 2 on wednesday, if they keep their current block! By that logic, I can see Whitney, Go On, AND community all getting slots, 2 in the fall and 1 as a just-in-case midseason replacement. If they market Community as a final season, they can probably expect fair-to-decent-or-at-least-not-dropping-any-further ratings, since that’s what happened with 30 rock, whitney can live out it’s life on wedesdays, starting off a fairly low rated for them night not too embarassingly as it has been doing, and Go On “inherits” the Big Bang Theory slaughterhouse spot without anyone questioning or hurt that it only got 13 episodes, because it’s a REPLACEMENT. Finally, New Normal is dead. It got a 0.7 and is actually kind of really offensive, and I say that as a liberal who supports gay marriage. They treat it as revolutionary and groundbreaking that a *Gasp* gay man can *gasp* LIKE SPORTS AND NOT BROADWAY?!?!? What is this insanity?!? Yeah, I’m not one of those people who says shows are cancelled/renewed based on quality, but it got horrible ratings and anyone who’s actually seen it can’t possibly think it’s politically correct. If anything, it sets back gay people at least 20 years. “I can’t wait to hear all her goo-goos and Lady Gaga’s.” SERIOUSLY.

  • Cyrax86

    Body of Proof is TWO FULL seasons away from syndication, unfortunately that’s not a help in its renewal chances.

  • Jayson

    I would think MC had a slimmer chance of renewal until HE did worse in terms of viewership and demos. HE kind of dragged down ST while both LMS and MC helped ST obtain higher ratings.

    I could see ABC keeping Friday the same next season with two comedies from 7 to 8, then ST and finally 20/20. Only way I could see ABC expanding comedies on Friday to two hours is if they have two additional family friendly comedies that have awesome pilots. ABC seems to be getting the families on Friday night and CBS is getting the over 50 crowd.. with NBC getting the horror/procedural fans with Grimm (the week that the Munsters played along with Grimm gave NBC pretty strong ratings.. why instead of the reality show at 8/7 central, why not put a fantasy type show to pair with Grimm next season?).

  • TV Addict

    Community NEEDS to be renewed for 2 more seasons. It NEEDS to. So by that logic, it already IS renewed.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA muhahahahahaha darkest timeline, Pierce Hawthorn, Inspector Spacetime…

  • Justin121

    All bubble shows get renewed, except Rules of Engagment and Go On.

  • Survivor Fan

    @ Justin

    You may be onto something. This could be like last year, where virtually every bubble show is renewed. With that said, I think that Go On is pretty much safe.

  • Potato

    @TV Addict– honestly, a better way to make fun of us community fans at this point is probably something like: “Before Dan Harmon got fired this was the greatest show ever and now it’s worse and more dumb and less funny than Teletubbies and anyone who disagrees with me is just in so much denial. It should get cancelled immediately and retroactively so it was never even made.” Yeah, it’s pretty annoying :p

  • Oli

    I would have both Neighbours and Hannibal on the bubble.

    I think NBC’s front runners for comedy after Parks & Recs are Go On and then Community and then Whitney. All the others are dead.

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