Bubble Watch: Agents of the B.U.B.B.L.E? + ‘How I Met Your Dad’ & CBS Comedies; Message to ‘Bones’ Fans: Relax!


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.

Bubble Watch: Anchors Away for the CBS Comedies?

CBS had a problem rarely seen in modern television with their comedies over the last few years – they had too much success! So many comedies were renewed every year that CBS had little new blood coming in.

Unfortunately for CBS, their gambit to fix the issue – expanding to four comedy hours and keeping Mike & Molly in reserve, to have room for multiple newbies – happened to coincide with the modern reality of the TV industry catching up to even CBS. The result is CBS now has:

Two comedies capable of getting above a 3 (despite airing in the timeslots with the lowest overall viewing).

Their lead-outs, which are settling in the mid 2s.

The 9pm hour, filled with four shows that struggle to top (or in some cases, hit) low 2s.

… oh, and one of the two legitimate hits is ending this season.

So with eight comedy slots, and only one show (The Big Bang Theory) capable of putting up even large numbers (or “anchoring” an hour), what could we expect next year?

1) How I Met Your Dad to take over Mondays @ 8. The spinoff, which recently had a pilot ordered, is probably CBS’ best bet to lead off Mondays. If it can get even 80% of what the original did this week, it would top what every CBS comedy in the 9pm hours did this week.

2) 2 Broke Girls to move back to 9pm. No, the show didn’t do well at 9pm, but it at least tied what Mike & Molly has already dropped to, and did better than what both of the Thursday @9pm shows settled to. As disappointing as it sounds, unless some pilot knocks everyone’s socks off, 2 Broke Girls is CBS’ best shot Mondays @9pm next season.

3) CBS to drop the Thursday @9pm comedy hour. While this would be a major move – one I am not going to assume, least of all because CBS usually gives experiments two years before pulling the plug – I still have to consider it as a possibility. It would help CBS in two ways: it wouldn’t spread what little comedy success CBS has as thinly, and it would help in drama development.

Yes, drama development. If CBS’ major goal next year is to develop new dramas, it is worth pointing out that the only current timeslots CBS has to work with are at 10pm and on Sundays. Neither is particularly fertile ground in the modern era. While CBS could slide NCIS:LA to 10pm (especially if it picks up NCIS:NO) to open up a 9pm slot (admittedly opposite The Voice) , the only other real option is to risk sliding Criminal Minds to 10pm to open up Wednesday @9pm… unless it downsizes the Thursday comedies. It is worth pointing out that Thursday @ 9pm offers the weakest competition the timeslot has had in probably a decade (and yet the current CBS comedies are doing nothing with it).

(It would also help with promotion – I doubt CBS wants to promote up to four new comedies along with three new dramas next Fall.)

Obviously, if there were only six comedy slots in play, then things get much dicier for the likes of The Crazy Ones, Mom, etc.

This week’s other notable data points and news bits:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dropped another three tenths this week. Even if you toss out the premiere, here is Agents’ week-to-week performance since the second episode: dropped four tenths, dropped a tenth, dropped a tenth, dropped two tenths, dropped three tenths. Even with starting in the mid 3s, that sort of trajectory isn’t healthy. I’ve moved it to “On The Bubble” until we see its floor, if any.

CW gave full backorders to The Originals, Reign, and The Tomorrow People. While this was no surprise for The Originals, it was a minor surprise for the other two – CW already has two more scripted shows (The 100 and Star-Crossed) and a pile of unscripted shows waiting in the wings for this season.

Whether this is The CW still holding out hope that something can do better against The Voice than their current Monday shows do, or a simple lack of faith in their midseason scripted shows, remains to be seen. We’ll see which way The CW is leaning once they release their Spring schedule. I’ve moved Reign (up a tick this week) to “On The Bubble” at least until we see The CW’s plans, as both Reign and The Tomorrow People’s chances hinge on their scheduling for Spring.

Bones dropped 40% from its Monday showing in its Friday premiere. While that drop is alarming, the Friday showing was still at 80% of Fox’s scripted average for the week! (Out of all the Friday shows on all the broadcast networks, only Grimm is doing above 80% of its network average.) While it is possible that Fox could have enough new dramas survive this year to allow them to part with Bones (we’ll know more next week when we see the Almost Human numbers), I don’t think it is likely, so I am keeping it as “Renewal Predicted”.

Raising Hope did not fare so well, doing just 46% of Fox’s scripted average for the week. Before the season I thought Fox might order another 13 episodes next season as spackle; this week’s numbers ended that. Whether that leaves an opening for one of Fox’s other mediocrely rated comedies (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project) as spackle duty on Fridays next season is an interesting question.

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
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
Raising Hope 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
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC On The Bubble
The Crazy Ones CBS On The Bubble
Two and a Half Men CBS On The Bubble
Reign CW On The Bubble
The Tomorrow People CW On The Bubble
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

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