Bubble Watch: Will 'Revolution,' 'Nashville,' 'Elementary' & 'The Mindy Project' Survive The Terrible Twos?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

October 20th, 2013


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 Terrible Twos!

For years, you have heard tvbythenumbers repeat that any show with three full seasons (roughly 66 episodes) is virtually guaranteed to get one more season for syndication.

The extension of this is that any show at two full seasons is essentially deciding on a 44 episode renewal.

The problem, especially this year, is that if those sophomore shows are doing poorly, that’s a huge – and lengthy – bet the network has to make.

How those questionable sophomores line up:


Pro: Not doing terribly for 10pm.

Con: “Not doing terribly” equates to just 80% of ABC’s scripted average. Soaps historically aren’t that profitable in syndication. Limited number of alternate timeslots – Revenge is begging to be moved to Sunday @10 next season, which only leaves Tuesday @10 and the good old ABC Death Slot (Thursday @ 8).


Pro: CBS looks like it will have room on Sundays next year; had been doing adequately this season for a 10pm show.

Con: This week’s drop may not have entirely been baseball related – it has dropped every week this season. What is its floor?

The Mindy Project

Pro: Fox is developing as if they will have at least two hours of comedy next season, and will need insurance. AdWeek’s annual estimates suggest the show still has value.

Con: Fox’s worst rated show of the season (just 73% of Fox’s scripted average), albeit only a tenth behind Dads’ cumulative 18-49 rating. If it is getting that worst rating even after airing behind New Girl, what happens when it moves elsewhere?


Pro: Started off in line with how it ended last season – but without the The Voice lead-in!

Con: And then dropped every week since the premiere. A steady stream of new shows started after The Voice means more and more competition for drama space in future years on NBC.

None of these situations are great; until their freshmen fail, I’m not particularly positive on any of the sophomores’ situations.


This week’s premieres and other notable data points:

While The Goldbergs’ lead-in is leveling off, The Goldbergs is not. This week it fell below all the Wednesday options, and I am moving it to cancellation.

(Note: I wouldn’t be surprised by – I even expect - a backorder for The Goldbergs! ABC only has two midseason comedies, Suburgatory and Mixology. Unless ABC kills the Tuesday comedy block – and with the hiatuses they have planned for their dramas, they don’t appear to have the backup inventory to do so – the most likely outcome is Suburgatory replaces Trophy Wife, Mixology takes over from Super Fun Night in March or April, and ABC has to ride out The Goldbergs until May.)

Back In The Game should consider making The Cancellation Bear their team’s mascot, as it is living up to the site’s adage by running faster than the rest of the freshmen comedies (after taking the Modern Family inflation into account). I am moving it to the bubble, as its survival now depends more on how many comedy hours ABC schedules next year – and who is doing the scheduling (more on that next week).

Super Fun Night has now fallen to the level where it likely implodes without the Modern Family lead-in. I am moving it to cancellation.

The Millers and The Crazy Ones have apparently leveled off above the CBS scripted average; no surprise, both were given backorders.

Mom, airing after a (admittedly worse rated than an original 2 Broke Girls) The Big Bang Theory repeat, dropped another tenth… and still was given a backorder. I don’t know if this is the power of the Chuck Lorre name, CBS’ lack of faith in its midseason comedies, or both. The backorder doesn’t sway my opinion on its chances – Mom is still CBS’ worst rated comedy at the moment. That CBS is ending How I Met Your Mother, is unlikely to use Mike & Molly for anything beyond spackle in the future, and is increasingly likely to put a fork in Two and a Half Men does begin to.

Hawaii Five-0 continues to hold up reasonably well, while Blue Bloods has dropped a bit, neither The Good Wife or The Mentalist has impressed without the late NFL game, and now even Elementary has sunk a bit. I wanted to wait until I saw numbers vs. regular competition, but after all of the above, I’ve moved Hawaii Five-0 to renewal – CBS has too many other problems to worry about that show.

Reign’s premiere tied the worst Tuesday -Thursday performer on the CW. With Star-Crossed waiting in the wings, I have to get my “Its reign will be short!” jokes in early as I don’t expect a backorder.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been doing the best of the three mediocrely rated Fox comedies; little surprise that Fox gave it a backorder and the second post-Super Bowl slot. I am still unconvinced which (if any!) of the three get renewed.

Ironside was canceled, with Chicago PD taking over the slot in January. No one was surprised.

Welcome to the Family rose a tenth this week (maybe Eva Longoria helped?); still doing under a 1, no one was surprised when it was cancelled and the 8pm hour turns into Community followed by Parks & Recreation in 2014.

The Michael J. Fox Show fell half a point last week. Turns out it wasn’t due to Glee, as it was flat this week. I am moving it to cancellation. I expect The Michael J. Fox Show to remain NBC’s #1 freshman comedy this year; I no longer see the ratings staying at the point where NBC has anything to lose by not going for another reboot.

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

Show Network Status
Lucky 7 ABC Canceled
How I Met Your Mother CBS Final Season
We Are Men CBS Canceled
American Dad Fox Moving to TBS
Ironside NBC Canceled
Welcome To The Family NBC Canceled
Betrayal ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Goldbergs ABC Cancellation Predicted
Nashville ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Neighbors ABC Cancellation Predicted
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ABC Cancellation Predicted
Super Fun Night ABC Cancellation Predicted
Trophy Wife ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Good Wife CBS Cancellation Predicted
Hostages CBS Cancellation Predicted
The Mentalist CBS Cancellation Predicted
Mom CBS Cancellation Predicted
Beauty & The Beast CW Cancellation Predicted
Reign CW Cancellation Predicted
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Michael J. Fox Show NBC Cancellation Predicted
Parenthood NBC Cancellation Predicted
Revolution NBC Cancellation Predicted
Sean Saves The World NBC Cancellation Predicted
Back In The Game ABC On The Bubble
Two and a Half Men CBS On The Bubble
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC Renewal Predicted
Castle ABC Renewal Predicted
Grey's Anatomy ABC Renewal Predicted
Last Man Standing ABC Renewal Predicted
The Middle ABC Renewal Predicted
Modern Family ABC Renewal Predicted
Once Upon a Time ABC Renewal Predicted
Revenge ABC Renewal Predicted
Scandal ABC Renewal Predicted
The Big Bang Theory CBS Renewal Predicted
Blue Bloods CBS Renewal Predicted
The Crazy Ones CBS Renewal Predicted
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
CSI CBS Renewal Predicted
Elementary CBS Renewal Predicted
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewal Predicted
The Millers CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS CBS Renewal Predicted
NCIS: LA CBS Renewal Predicted
Person of Interest CBS Renewal Predicted
2 Broke Girls CBS Renewal Predicted
Arrow CW Renewal Predicted
Hart of Dixie CW Renewal Predicted
The Originals CW Renewal Predicted
Supernatural CW Renewal Predicted
The Tomorrow People CW Renewal Predicted
The Vampire Diaries CW Renewal Predicted
Bones Fox Renewal Predicted
Family Guy Fox Renewal Predicted
The New Girl Fox Renewal Predicted
The Blacklist NBC Renewal Predicted
Chicago Fire NBC Renewal Predicted
Law & Order: SVU NBC Renewal Predicted
Parks & Recreation NBC Renewal Predicted
Bob's Burgers Fox Renewed
Glee Fox Renewed
The Simpsons Fox Renewed
Sleepy Hollow Fox Renewed


  • Brianna

    @Lena you ask the same question every week about Nikita.

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

    Nikita has not aired any episodes yet!

  • Matt

    Possible ABC Schedule for 2014-2015, shall one of ABC’s Midseason dramas and one of the Tuesday comedies flop.

    8:00- Once Upon A Time
    9:00- Greys Anatomy
    10:00- Revenge

    8:00- DWTS
    10:00- Castle

    8:00- SHIELD
    9:00- Super Fun Night
    9:30- Mixology/Suburgatory
    10:00- Mind Games/New drama

    8:00- The Middle
    8:30- The Goldbergs/new comedy
    9:00- Modern Family
    9:30- Trophy Wife/new comedy
    10:00- New drama

    8:00- New drama
    9:00- Scandal
    10:00- Nashville

    8:00- Last Man Standing
    8:30- Back In The Game
    9:00- Shark Tank
    10:00- 20/20

    This schedule may also work for Midseason (excluding the new drama/new comedy notes).

  • Doug

    Moving GA to Sunday would effectively kill the show. If ABC announced next season as the last, then I could see it happening. Old network wisdom: you never move an old show and expect it to survive. It’s ratings now are borderline good – but if it were to fall even half a ratings point, they wouldn’t be so good anymore. If anything gets moved, it’s Scandal, or I could se a GA-Scandal flip.

  • steve

    I’d say Revolution’s second season has been marginally better so far than the first season. The setup of the overall storyline seems much better as well, so it could get drastically better from here. But it’s probably too late; hard to see them gaining back lost ground in viewership.

  • r0ckmypants

    This is called the “Bubble Watch.”


  • Randy

    Out of all the midseason shows, I really want Resurrection to succeed, as it looks to have so much potential. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening as Sundays at 10pm don’t work, and post-Revenge isn’t good right now with its struggling ratings. I wish ABC would schedule it in a better slot to give it a chance.

    Here’s how ABC needs to schedule next year to maximize ratings.

    8:00 – Dancing with the Stars
    10:00 – Nashville / New Drama (if Nashville doesn’t get renewed)

    8:00 – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    9:00 – New Drama
    10:00 – Castle

    8:00 – The Middle
    8:30 – New Comedy / Suburgatory (midseason)
    9:00 – Modern Family
    9:30 – The Goldbergs / New Comedy (if Goldbergs is canceled)
    10:00 –

    8:00 – Shark Tank / Wipeout
    9:00 – Grey’s Anatomy (final season)
    10:00 – Scandal

    8:00 – Last Man Standing
    8:30 – Back in the Game / New Comedy (if Back in the Game is canceled)
    9:00 – Shark Tank
    10:00 – 20/20

    8:00 – Once Upon a Time
    9:00 – Resurrection (if successful) / New Drama
    10:00 – Revenge (final season)

  • Randy

    *New Drama for Wednesdays at 10, sorry I forgot to add it in, I was moving things around

  • Dan S

    I’m perplexed as to why there are only 2 shows on the bubble. As much as I love P&R it really is now a bubble show. I’m hoping of course its ratings improve when Community returns & moves back to 8:30pm. LMS is also a bubble show as is Elementary as I said earlier. It’s far too early to predict renewals & cancellations for several shows.

  • CBSviewer

    CBS next Season (if they get rid of their 2-Hour comedy block on Thursday)

    8:00 – 2 Broke Girls
    8:30 – The Millers
    9:00 – The Crazy Ones
    9:30 – NEW COMEDY
    10:00 – NEW DRAMA

    8:00 – NCIS
    9:00 – NCIS: New Orleans
    10:00 – NEW DRAMA

    8:00 – Survivor
    9:00 – Criminal Minds
    10:00 – CSI

    8:00 – The Big Bang Theory
    8:30 – NEW COMEDY
    9:00 – NCIS: Los Angeles
    10:00 – Elementary

    8:00 – Undercover Boss
    9:00 – Hawaii Five-0
    10:00 – Blue Bloods

    8:00 – The Amazing Race
    9:00 – NEW DRAMA
    10:00 – Person of Interest

    Thoughts ?


    5-0 and Blue Bloods are great together on Friday nights and I hope they remain there for years to come !!

  • eelna

    Reign got a 0.8 of TVD’s 1.3.
    TTP got a 0.9 of Arrow’s 0.9.

    But if TVD had 2.5 Million Viewers and had a 1.2 rating, Arrow with the same numbers would only have a 0.9 rating.

    So ratings not always matter, because TVD is a rating hit.

    Look at this different:
    TTP had 2.3 Million Viewers of Arrow’s 2.75 Million Viewers
    Reign had 2 Million Viewers of TVD’ 2.9 Million Viewers in a tougher time slot.

  • jake

    Do you think Last Man Standing is a lock for renewal? I’m a little nervous about the numbers so far this year???

  • omabin

    CBS should not launch a new drama on Sundays! Not when they can’t even promote its starting hour, it would be very hard to catch on. If Undercover Boss wasn’t working on Fridays, I would actually suggest a TAR/Survivor/Undercover Boss reality block on Sundays. As it is, I would be satisfied with TAR/Survivor/Some syndication bound drama

  • Matheus

    I read someone around here say that it’s not such a smart move to move old struggling shows out of their timeslots and I agree.
    I see people making their schedules moving Castle around, but Castle struggled to become stable in its timeslot, I don’t think it would be smart to move it around, it would kill it.
    I think it’d be better to keep shows like that put and work around them to improve the schedules.
    But I’d be curious to know your reasoning behind it.

  • Randy

    @Matheus It’s a gamble moving old shows around, but sometimes moving an old show can be the best thing that happened to it. Other times it backfires. It really depends on its loyal audience. The reason I’d move Castle to Tuesdays is to launch a new drama between hit Agents of SHIELD and solid Castle. That’s a good network strategy to try to gain a new hit. Granted, its a risk and it could backfire as Castle could drop from a new timeslot. Its hard to workaround their current mess of a schedule, as the empty slots are the struggling slots. Typically, a hit that has a loyal following can still pull in decent numbers (maybe a little lower) in a tough slot. Sometimes that could backfire too (like Revenge started off strong in its new slot but ratings dropped off in the second half of the second season). Its a risk and sometimes networks need to take risks in order to move forward (because some risks can benefit, like renewing Scandal for a second season–look at how much of a hit it is now).

  • Meghann Z.

    Makes no sense for Elementary not to be on the bubble. It gets comparable numbers to Nashville and Revolution despite being in a better timeslot and those two are in the certain to be cancelled category.

    Unless there’s a sudden rally, I have a hard time wrapping my head around a scenario where keeping Elementary makes sense. If CBS were to renew it, they would have to move it to Friday or Sunday where its ratings will drop even further. Why try and keep an expensive show like that alive for two more years? Only a month into its second season and it’s already on par with the aging H50 and The Good Wife now without those shows’ past glory. What syndicator is going to pay big money for a show whose ratings peaked with its pilot? The syndication market is notoriously picky about hour long dramas already and that’s only going to get worse.

  • Mike

    Can someone help me understand how much these shows make per episode..

    I’m reading how much they get per 30 second ad and I know that 1 hour shows have about 16 minutes of commercials.. So that’s 32 30sec ads… But what if an ad is only 10 seconds or 15 or something..

    Can. You give me an example for like say Castle.. I read the show gets $129,250 per 30 sec ad.. And let’s say 1 minute of ads are for abc promoting their own shows.. So would I just multiply $129,250 by 30 30second ads which will total $3,877,500… Would that be right? But what if their 15 second ads do they just pay half of the 30 second ad price?

  • danny

    Once you take in the Live + 7 ratings Elementary is a hit. It gains 3 to 4 million viewers on average. Clearly it is the hour and day that it is on as to why it doesn’t garner enough Live views. Furthermore, they removed a proven hit in Person of Interest to a different night and a later hour only for it to suffer as well. So they have hurt 2 shows by doing a shuffle.CbS should simply put them back together.

  • Meghann Z.

    Once you take in the Live + 7 ratings Elementary is a hit. It gains 3 to 4 million viewers on average.

    Are you new? Overall viewers don’t matter and DVR ratings matter even less than that.

  • JJA

    The BIG mistake the CW made was ordering a full 22 episodes for BATB. They should have just ordered 13 episodes, with the option of a back 9.

    As for Reign, I think the cancelation prediction is premature. Firstly, Nikita, ANTM and TCD will not air in the spring, so the two new shows (Star-Crossed and The 100) will fill the two empty spots (with BATB and HOD being possibly moved to Friday). For this reason, Reign WILL likely get a full season. Also, a .8 puts Reign on par with The Tomorrow People, so we need to see how the shows play-out before a decision is made.

    Additionally, I’m not too sure HOD will automatically get a 4th season. The 88 episode rule was bent by the CW in the case of Nikita, and by NBC in the case of Friday Night Lights. So, HOD may just end after 3 seasons, just like Veronnica Mars did.

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