Note from the editors: Robert is hanging up his Bubble Watch shoes this season. Long-time reader Tom Shaw is taking the reins. One benefit of new blood is this is the first time the first Bubble Watch of the season came before the First Renew/Cancel Index posts of the season. Fear not! Bill is not hanging up his spikes and the first Renew/Cancel Index posts of the season will be published on Tuesday, September 24.
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** (2014-15). 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.
The leaves change, the temperature drops, and The Cancellation Bear wakes from his summer-long slumber to the smell of his prey: mostly defenseless newborns and graying veterans.
The Cancellation Bear (@thecancelbear) may still have been hibernating though when he tweeted "the bear cannot recall a broadcast primetime show pulled off the air in mid season that wasn't a rookie".
@CathyCadenf the bear cannot recall a broadcast primetime show pulled off the air in mid season that wasn't a rookie
— Cancellation Bear (@TheCancelBear) September 12, 2013
In reality, the situation is less clear-cut for returning shows. Last year alone:
- Smash spent most of its episodes as a Saturday burn off.
- Don't Trust the B... was yanked from the schedule. Eight episodes never aired in the US; they were briefly available on Hulu.
- Up All Night was shut down for a reboot; in the end, the show never returned to production, with two episodes from the original order cut.
All of the above is a long way of saying that struggling returning shows like The Mindy Project and The Neighbors are by no means safe from The Cancellation Bear's clutches until May.
Whether ABC or Fox will want to tinker with either show remains to be seen; both networks have multiple new comedies that will have to settle before they can make any moves.
As for this week's starts:
Sleepy Hollow ruined the curve for Fox, starting off at 114% of Fox's scripted average. We will see how it holds up against regular competition next week, but it adds an interesting wrinkle for Fox - the show is not on their Spring schedule.
The Mindy Project and Dads started off on the low end, at 61% and 71% of Fox's scripted average, respectively. How Fox's entire Tuesday night settles against heavy hitters is one of the most interesting aspects of the Fall schedule (along with the Thursday comedy showdown).
Last Man Standing returned on par with how it ended last season, albeit against all repeats; The Neighbors only started at 80% of that. I can't imagine either program improves against real competition.
As a reminder, my predictions are based on what I believe their odds will be at the end of the season. I will strive to stick my neck out as much as possible and list as few shows as 'On The Bubble' as possible. For example, there is only one 'On The Bubble' entry this week - Dads. I fully expect Dads' numbers to drop to mediocre, at best; on the other hand, Seth MacFarlane has quite a bit of pull at Fox. Just how bad the numbers can get - or if they are saved by some sub-demo, say, M18-34 - before Fox will harm that relationship is too early to tell.
That said, when Robert saw this write-up, his response was “I wouldn’t bet anything on Mindy Project getting renewed next season, but I’ll bet you $100 it isn’t yanked or banished to Saturdays during this season!" I have to admit that I am too much of a coward to take that bet without seeing one week of regular data!
Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.
|The Neighbors||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Mindy Project||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|Dads||Fox||On The Bubble|
|Last Man Standing||ABC||Renewal Predicted|
|Brooklyn Nine-Nine||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|New Girl||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|Sleepy Hollow||Fox||Renewal Predicted|