Bubble Watch: Partial Back Orders The Kiss Of Death For 'Super Fun Night' & 'Sean Saves The World'? ; Ratings Blood Sucked Out of 'Dracula'

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

November 9th, 2013

Super Fun Night

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.

Partial Backorders – The Kiss of Death?

We are getting to that time of year where the networks have to finalize their schedules for January/ February, and are handing out no, partial, or full backorders as a result.

Not all backorders are equal, however, and partial backorders are the most misleading of them all. Rather than suggest that the show is still alive, they should suggest that the network is simply filling time until they can try something else in the slot. Freshmen shows producing* less than 22 episodes AND ending before May (so they don’t drag down the network’s May sweeps average) are almost universally cancelled**.

*Note that I said produced, not aired. For example, in the 06/07 season, ABC’s Men in Trees produced 22 episodes but only aired 17, ending in February – yet was still renewed.

**Note that there’s little correlation between either half of that statement and cancellation. Many shows have produced 22 episodes and still were cancelled; occasionally (mostly due to scheduling reasons), a freshman show will produce less than 22 episodes, end in May, and still be renewed, such as Revolution last season. The combination of less than 22 episodes and ending in April or earlier, however, is highly suggestive.

Out of the last ten regular seasons (tossing out the 07/08 Writers’ Strike Year), here’s how those “partial backorders ending before May” freshmen shows fared:


12/13: Ben and Kate, Guys With Kids, Malibu Country

11/12: Pan Am, A Gifted Man

10/11: No Ordinary Family, Detroit 1-8-7, The Defenders, S#*! My Dad Says

09/10: Accidentally on Purpose, Trauma, The Forgotten, Melrose Place

08/09: Worst Week, Privileged, Knight Rider, Life on Mars, Eleventh Hour, Kath & Kim

06/07: The Class, Standoff

05/06: Surface, Freddie, Related, Twins

04/05: Complete Savages, Medical Investigation

03/04: 10-8:Officers on Duty, Threat Matrix, The Handler, All About the Andersons

02/03: In-Laws, Hidden Hills, Do Over, Family Affair, John Doe


06/07: 30 Rock aired 21 episodes and ended the last week of April. While it barely missed those criteria by one week and one episode, an exception is an exception, so I am listing it here.

03/04: Tru Calling aired 20 episodes and ended the last week of April.

02/03: Boomtown aired 18 episodes and ended the last week of April.

Or to summarize, if a Fall freshman doesn’t get 22 episodes and doesn’t air until at least late April, it is almost certainly doomed.

So how do this year’s candidates line up?

Super Fun Night, as covered last week, received four extra episodes. If those episodes air in April/May, there’s a slim historical precedent for it being renewed, so until we know for sure I have to place it in merely “Cancellation Predicted”. Note: I don’t expect them to be scheduled for April/May.

Sean Saves The World was given five extra episodes. While it was up this week, it won’t have a Voice lead-in every week. This still smells like timeslot filling until, say, Undateable can take over. Where those extra episodes of Sean are scheduled is an interesting question – NBC has little to lose by not trying something else on Thursdays.

The Tomorrow People was flat, even without airing against baseball playoffs. If The CW decides to give the timeslot to The 100, is there even any point in ordering more episodes of The Tomorrow People to get thrown under The Voice bus?

Reign was flat, even up against a first-run Glee! On the other hand, that’s a flat that’s tied for worst among the Tuesday – Thursday shows, even with the biggest lead-in The CW has. While I’ve heard chatter that Reign is a limited series, that is simply not true – CW ordered three more scripts a month ago.


This week’s other notable data points:

Mike & Molly returned to a rating slightly up from how it did in March / April. I’m putting it as “Renewal Predicted”, both because I see it filling the Rules of Engagement spackle role for at least another season, and because when the two worst rated CBS comedies are both Chuck Lorre shows, I can’t see CBS getting rid of three of his shows.

Mom, speaking of which, used a fellow Chuck Lorre lead-in to… tie its series low. Again, with so many other CBS shows in trouble, Mom may be renewed – but it won’t be because of its ratings.

The Millers jumped up half a point back with a The Big Bang Theory lead-in, even against The Voice. I don’t think it makes it to syndication, but it will make it to next year.

The Crazy Ones, on the other hand, only went up two tenths vs. normal competition. It was only one tenth above the Chuck Lorre problem children this week. Without any confidence in how CBS is scheduling comedies next year (more on that next week), I am moving this to “On the Bubble”.

Dracula, after falling five tenths last week, fell three more tenths this week. Even for NBC, even for Friday, that isn’t good news.  I am moving it to “Cancellation Predicted”.

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


Show Network Status
Back In The Game ABC Canceled
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
The Carrie Diaries CW Cancellation Predicted
Reign CW Cancellation Predicted
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dracula NBC 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
The Crazy Ones CBS On The Bubble
Two and a Half Men CBS On The Bubble
The Tomorrow People CW 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
Criminal Minds CBS Renewal Predicted
CSI CBS Renewal Predicted
Elementary CBS Renewal Predicted
Hawaii Five-0 CBS Renewal Predicted
Mike & Molly 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 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
Grimm 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


  • Bradley

    I still think you are wrong about Parenthood. It will get a 13 episode final season order next year in order to make it profitable in syndication. A show like that will flounder in syndication if it doesn’t have a definite end where the storylines have actual closings.

    Everything else seems reasonable though.

  • Eric Robinson

    Just curious. What would have to happen for Revolution to be moved to renewal predicted? It has been immensely stable at a 1.4 while most shows have been dropping around it. Law and Order currently is at a 1.5, meaning if that were to go down a bit, could that help improve its chances?

  • Joe D

    While the 18-49 ratings may be the key factor in renewal I think the nets are also considering if they own the show and it’s syndie potential. The Neighbors may sustain low ratings but ABC owns it and comedies generally do better in syndication and cost less to produce. ABC has its own outlet with ABC Family as ttyey’ve done with The Middle. Dramas, especially serials, don”t do as well in syndication.. So these factors should also be taken into consideration for Bublble Watch.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    Impressive research by Tom. Far more than the cancellation bear is willing to do at this point.

    Helps to have fresh legs. ;)

  • zack

    Lol I love this web site. God bless the clueless bear

  • tommie

    @Joe D.: the trouble is that ABC would have to drag The Neighbors on for two low-rated season to reach it’s full syndication potential. It’s the same thing as it was with Happy Endings last season – even though they were in their third season, they still would’ve had to drag it on another one and a half-season. Would they really want to commit to that with a show that’s already hitting 1.0’s?

    The Neighbors will, at best, air out it’s season in the Friday 8:30 slot. Worst case it’ll be pulled or moved to Saturdays, but in all honesty, ABC has more problems on their schedule to care about The Neighbors bad ratings.

  • Joseph A

    Let’s keep this simple , there is not a chance in heck that The Good Wife ends this season

  • feinn

    Tommorow People doesn’t skew male? Supernatural goes against Voice, and is fine.

  • Doug

    CBS’s comedies are really a mess, aren’t they? I don’t see TCO getting a second season, if only because I assume that there are some big salaries attached to it. Robin Williams can’t come cheap. I would also expect an announcement soon on Two and a Half Men, given the exorbitant cost of the series at this point. With HIMYM gone this season, CBS better hope for lots of good comedy pilots or they’re in an even bigger mess next year.

    I’m curious to see where SHIELD ends up. It hasn’t stopped sliding yet, and a few more ticks down and it won’t be looking so hot for what I assume is an expensive show.

    The CW is having a surprisingly decent decent, perhaps only because they plumbed such low lows last season that anything looks better. Particularly on Mondays. Wasn’t 90210 doing 0.2s at some point?

    NBC is another mess. They really just can’t catch a break on Thursday to save their life. SVU is also surprisingly weak – with that 1.4 last week, I might even put it on the bubble considering the salaries involved there. NBC should move it back to 10pm where it has always done better.

  • skyfi

    So… where is all the crying about Reign that I hoped to see here?

  • alvar

    I disagree about Mike and Molly being used as spackle. With How I Met Your Mother ending this season and no big new comedy hits, CBS are really only left with 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molly and The Big Bang Theory to anchor comedy hours next season.

  • Swiftnissity

    I wonder how the CW shows are doing in online viewing. Supposedly TCD did well enough online last season to get it renewed, despite the poor TV numbers.

  • alvar

    I like CBS’ strategy for Mondays by having 3 hit shows in a row leading into a freshman. Its better than having mediocre rated freshman shows inbetween which drag down the overall lineup. They should employ this strategy for Thursdays. Move Two and a Half Men back to 8.30 – its gets a stronger rating out of The Big Bang Theory (at least a 3.5) than The Millers does and would give the 9pm hour a better lead in.

  • Mike

    @Joseph A

    I somewhat agree that good wife won’t be cancelled this season. I believe that CBS will only cancel 2 fall dramas this season unless one of the mid season dramas surprises and gets renewed..

    I believe than CBS will cancel Hostages, The Mentalist

    So that they can premier 2 new dramas in the fall instead of just 1 they did this season. Also sense they have and extra hour of comedy I truely Believe that CBS won’t cancel 3 fall dramas as usual.. If CBS wants to premier 3 new dramas in the fall then I believe that they’ll simply hold Undercover Boss till midseason as they’ve done before

  • abc

    Why do you have L&O:SVU as “renewal predicted” and Revolution as “cancellation predicted” when for weeks now they have almost the same ratings (considering that Revolution airs in the 8PM hour where ratings are generally a bit lower than at 9)?

    Or more generally: Except for the Voice and its Lead-Outs nothing on NBC is doing better than around a 1.2-1.5 so that would make all those shows at least bubble shows…

  • Joe D

    @tommie: The Neighbors will, at best, air out it’s season in the Friday 8:30 slot. Worst case it’ll be pulled or moved to Saturdays, but in all honesty, ABC has more problems on their schedule to care about The Neighbors bad ratings.

    I agree. They need to fix Tues & Wed first. They might try Back in the Game on Fri after LMS to see what happens but otherwise Friday will probably stay as is for the season.

    As for CBS unless they decide to give up on the second hour of comedy on Thurs I don’t see them canceling all three shows after TBBT.

  • Mike

    @Joe D

    back in the game was canceled..

  • Duarte

    I disagree with the cancellation of Reign

  • Stefan

    If ABC put Wonderland Sunday at 9 pm, I’m sure it would have been in the Renewal Predicted section now.

    As for Revenge, it is back on track BIG TIME, but it lost so many viewers in season 2, and now it’s up against so stiff competition so unfortunately I don’t see it rebounding. I just hope they can reach a 2.0 with the long-waited midseason finale.

  • Feedback

    I’m digging the Bubble Watch this year. Last year, Robert would have put everything on the bubble and only made one or two actual predictions. But you’re showing some initiative and predicting EVERYTHING except 3 shows.

    I think you should go ahead and predict a cancellation for Tomorrow People. I don’t see that show surviving. I do agree with Crazy Ones and TAAHM being on the Bubble though. TAAHM’s renewal chances are all dependent on contracts and network politics. And Crazy Ones’ renewal depends on if TAAHM gets renewed!

    If 2 and a Half Men is renewed, Crazy Ones is canceled.
    If it’s canceled, Crazy Ones is renewed.

    No way they both get renewed. CBS is desperate but not THAT desperate.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures