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


  • Feedback

    I don’t understand why NBC continues to try and compete with CBS’ Thursday comedy block. When it comes to sitcoms, ABC owns Wednesday and CBS owns Thursday.

    If I were NBC, I would have gone with:

    8- Chicago Fire
    9- Chicago P.D.
    10- Law and Order: SVU

    8- The Biggest Loser (Mid-Season: MJF / Growing Up Fisher)
    9- The Michael J. Fox Show / Welcome to the Family (Mid-Season: WTTF / Sean Saves the World)
    10- Parenthood
    ***If the comedies failed, WTTF would get replaced by Sean mid-Fall. If that failed too, the 2nd comedy hour would be scrapped in favor of American Dream Builders.

    8- The Voice (The Sing-Off during winter)
    10- The Blacklist (Dracula during winter)

    8- The Voice
    9- Revolution
    10- Crisis (Mid-Season: Believe)

    8- Dateline NBC
    9- Grimm
    10- Ironside (Mid-Season: Cross Bones)

    8- SNF (Mid-Season: Community / Undateable)
    9- SNF (Mid-Season: Parks and Rec / About a Boy)
    10- SNF (Mid-Season: Hannibal)

    The Night Shift would be kept as a replacement for whatever gets pulled off the air during mid-season.

  • Niallers24

    The CW can cut the BATB order from 22 to 13. There’s no stopping them.

  • rob60990

    Either both The Goldbergs & Trophy Wife need to be cancelled or just The Goldbergs. It’s clearly the weaker show already losing half its demo audience in a few weeks and has the better lead-in but knowing idiot Paul Lee, The Goldbergs will get additional episodes and Suburgatory will air at 9:30.

  • Joseph A

    Having nothing to do with if I like the shows or not ,,

    Betrayal , the lowest rated show of Sunday at .8 and audience 2.88 this is not coming back for a 3rd season.

    Revolution, with a 1.4 , and Wednesday audience of 5.42 it will be lucky to get a full season.

    The Good Wife , I think this could be the exception to the rule, even with a Sunday demo of 1.2 , its still getting an audience of 8.46, plus its an Emmy Winning Cash Cow. Due to its awards I think the show gets a chance at another season.

    The Michael J Fox Show , another exception due to what I think the network will see as potential. On any other network this might not come back, but thinking NBC will relaunch, and improve it.

  • Randy

    Betrayal is a freshman series, its in its first and probably only season. There is no way ABC would renew it for a second season. Shows like The River (Tuesdays) and GCB (Sundays) had higher ratings got canceled the other year. Even Red Widow last year on Sundays did better in that slot. I think 10pm on Sundays belongs to Revenge next year for a final season. A veteran show is a much better fare for the death slots than trying to launch a new series in them.

  • Midnight

    I would wait for another week of data before downgrading Elementary to the bubble. It is a procedural, so it can easily bounce back up.

    I think the HUGE DVR lifts show that Elementary is struggling mainly because it airs opposite the “must-watch” Scandal. While every slot has competition, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are probably the only other shows with that kind of force behind them.

    What will help Elementary the most is syndication. Even if Intelligence succeeds, Elementary will have a 31 episode lead over it. CBS needs syndication dollars and nothing else is really in the pipeline. The difference between Elementary and say the Good Wife is that two more renewals will bring four seasons of syndication for Elementary while two more renewals only would bring two more seasons of syndication for the Good Wife. At the margin, Elementary makes sense for renewal.

    Better predictions this week for the Bubble Watch. I might put Reign on the bubble until we see if it declines next week and also Brooklyn Ninety-Nine since it’s getting the post-post Super Bowl slot.

  • Brandy

    First CW has said Reign & the 100 are imited series,no full season.Also, CW has The 10,Star-Crossed,Masters of Ilusion ,Famous in 12 waiting.
    Second,CW couldn’t to pick up more shows than they did to replace BatB if it didn’t get a backorder and almost all returning fall shows (except ones past syndication going int a final season like Private Practice,Gossip Girl,Chuck,Fringe).
    Third, back when VM was canceled, 100 was needed for syndicatin,not the 88 needed today.It was also in a unique situation of a network merge and there was behind the scenes dissagreements over the direction of season had it been renewed.
    Fourth, A few shows have been syndicated with less than 88 episodes, but it’s very rare.CW can’t afford to walk away from potential syndicatin revenue with HoD( otherwise Nikita would’ve been cancelled at season two or three, but it wasn’t.)Plus,CW xsits to syndicate as many of its shows as possible.
    Finally, I doubt very much CW will premiere two new shows on one night(they’ve never done it before),especially on Mon facing The Voice ,The Following,Blacklist,HIMYM.

  • Reprise

    @Revenge next year for a final season.

    I think Revenge will get a short 12 episode 5th season personally to get it to 100 episodes, way beyond the 88 mark required. At the same time they can have another show to premiere in that 9pm slot after Revenge finishes.

    Call me crazy, but they could easily just air 12 episodes of Revenge back to back to finish the show off. And then put something new in that slot to test the waters so to speak and see how viable it is for launching something new.

    I would have it as this for 2015.

    8pm Once – Season 5
    9pm Revenge Season 5 12 eps /New Drama 12 eps
    10pm New Drama/Veteran show

  • ludoredjohn

    Elementary seems the show with the most chances as it has that procedural element going for it and I suspect it has pretty strong international sales (as Holmes is a popular character in many countries).
    The Mindy Project’s chances steam mainly from the lack of competition as most Fox newish comedies have struggled (except for New Girl).
    Revolution seems pretty dead to me since it seems an expensive show to keep considering the dire ratings
    Nashville… No idea, it seems to me like the kind of niche show that should have been on cable

  • anna g

    What will help Elementary the most is syndication. Even if Intelligence succeeds, Elementary will have a 31 episode lead over it. CBS needs syndication dollars and nothing else is really in the pipeline. The difference between Elementary and say the Good Wife is that two more renewals will bring four seasons of syndication for Elementary while two more renewals only would bring two more seasons of syndication for the Good Wife. At the margin, Elementary makes sense for renewal.
    Yes, sure syndication would help Elementary. Question is who will buy Elementary for syndication when the show is sinking so fast? And it’s the beginning of season 2. The show is not in trouble yet, CBS has more problems with TM, TGW and of course Hostages but it must bounce back if CBS even dreams of syndication.

  • Nasir

    “Does Vampire Diaries have a syndication deal yet?”

    @JohnA ,

    I wonder the same thing.

  • r0ckmypants

    @anna g – “Question is who will buy Elementary for syndication when the show is sinking so fast?”

    People said the same thing about The Good Wife, and look at what happened to that: a double syndication deal with Amazon and Hallmark Channel. There are several smaller networks, especially new ones like WGN and Esquire, that are looking to build themselves up… who are we to say they wouldn’t want Elementary?

  • anna g

    @anna g – “Question is who will buy Elementary for syndication when the show is sinking so fast?”
    People said the same thing about The Good Wife, and look at what happened to that: a double syndication deal with Amazon and Hallmark Channel. There are several smaller networks, especially new ones like WGN and Esquire, that are looking to build themselves up… who are we to say they wouldn’t want Elementary?
    You are right about TGW, but as you know it’s a prestigous show, critically acclaimed with some Emmy award or nomination at least. Acting and writing is excellent there. Sorry but Elementary doesn’t even come close, especially this season. So I’m really curious myself if it get syndication deal?

  • Susan

    I do not want Revolution and Parenthood to be renewed !!! I even stopped watching Survivor to watch Revolution ! If I can’t watch these shows I will turn off the TV.

  • Tony

    Meghann Z.
    Posted October 20, 2013 at 12:21 PM
    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.
    Meghann you’re missing the point. Yes, dvr may not count for much but it proves that Elementary clearly has a big audience. It’s just that a lot of them are dvr’g it and watching Scandal live. CBS has got to move Elementary or move something or do something. The show is worth saving and I bet CBS sees this. Hope CBS sees it.

  • Susan

    In regards to post above, was suppose to say “I do not want Revolution or Parenthood to be canceled !!”

  • Ultima

    8- The Voice

    8- The Voice

    What does NBC gain by throwing The Voice head-to-head with American Idol? While I’m sure it would come out on top, it would probably lose a huge chunk of its audience in the process.

    8- Chicago Fire
    9- Chicago P.D.
    10- Law and Order: SVU

    So NBC would go from winning all three hours on Monday to losing all three?

    8- The Voice
    9- Revolution

    Because you don’t already have enough evidence that The Voice’s lead-in is wasted on Revolution?

    Your entire schedule seems to be based around ruining everything that actually works at NBC simply so they can avoid airing comedies against CBS’ comedy block.

  • Reprise


    Hate to be blunt but Meghann hasn’t missed any point. They are absolutely correct. Having a large DVR audience means nothing, plenty of shows have been cancelled with a large DVR following. I suggest not being so dismissive with opinions you don’t agree with.

  • Midnight

    @anna g

    As long as the ratings are decent, I’m sure it will sell in syndication. WGN America, for example, is hoping to break into the national market after being a Chicago superstation the way TBS did after being an Atlanta superstation. WGN just bought the rights to Person of Interest, and there isn’t much else that will be available to them besides Elementary and Chicago Fire, or CW shows. Maybe the Blacklist if it survives that long, which it very well might, but that’s still a season later. Like I said, there isn’t a whole lot down the pipeline for distributor CBS or purchasers of syndication.

    You are right of course that this ratings decline is troubling and that CBS has bigger problems to handle first. But since it is a procedural, I’m hoping the ratings recover. CBS will be willing to swallow some ratings decline to march the show to syndication, but certainly not a ratings collapse.

  • Ultima

    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…

    It’s less than that; you need to exclude self promotion as well as local commercials. I think 12 minutes of national commercials per hour is typical.

    But what if an ad is only 10 seconds or 15 or something..

    Then it costs less. A 15-second ad costs half of what a 30-second ad costs, while a 60-second ad costs twice as much as a 30-second ad.

    You give me an example for like say Castle.. I read the show gets $129,250 per 30 sec ad..

    Assuming only 11 minutes of commercials (because ABC shifts a minute from Castle to DWTS), that’s ~$2.8 million in advertising revenue per episode. Maybe it’s a little bit more. It’s certainly less than it costs to produce an episode of Castle though; they make their profit from repeat airings and syndication.

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