Bubble Watch: "The Following" Likely Renewed, 'Rake' Likely Canceled, 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' Upgraded + Thursday NFL On Broadcast?

Categories: Bubble Watch

Written By

January 25th, 2014

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This week’s premieres and other notable data points:

The Following, with the NFC Championship Game as a lead-in, hit a series high for its season premiere. While at times it seemed like half the show’s audience actively hated it in Season 1 and the show would promptly collapse in Season 2 (e.g. Smash), that kind of return for a known quantity makes me think it will have no problems surviving, especially compared to Fox’s average drama rating this season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine jumped up half a point this week. Looks like Fox finally found a strategy that will work – getting ABC and CBS to air repeats against their shows.

All snark aside, again, fluctuations like that are a good thing. It suggests that there is a larger possible audience for the show – just not against the currently scheduled competition. The show may improve in a different situation, compared to a veteran show like, say, Parenthood, which even against double repeats was essentially flat. Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s numbers at 9:30 will determine its fate, and with no data points at 9:30 to go off of, I’ve moved it to “On The Bubble”.

Rake started out with borderline numbers. If it drops from its premiere, like almost all shows do, the show is done for. I’ve started it in “Cancellation Predicted” as I doubt it will buck the trend. (Plus, Fox already picked up their next “It’s House as a fill-in-the-blank” series in Backstrom.)

Raising Hope and Enlisted swapped timeslots, and both shows grew from last week. Then again, CBS airing a repeat of Hawaii Five-0 opposite the hour was likely the bigger factor.

The NFL Drops the Hammer on Thursdays

The NFL’s Thursday Night Football games have been a mixed bag for the NFL. While they have led to growth in the NFL Network, the games themselves are largely duds, due to limited prep time and insistence on giving nearly every team a game in the schedule.

Sensing that growth for the NFL Network is limited (it is now carried by almost every major cable/satellite company) and that the games were underviewed (they averaged just 8 million viewers per game in 2013, vs. the over 20 million average viewers for Sunday Night Football), the NFL has offered up a package of Thursday Night Football games for next season.

The details are murky – it may be anywhere from 6 to 13 games, depending on the bid, the NFL wants to simulcast the games on the NFL Network, and the deal is only for one year initially, presumably so the NFL can cleanly back out if NFL Network revenue plummets. Regardless, every current NFL network (among others) has reportedly put in bids for the package. While it is thought that NBC, Fox, and CBS are interested in airing the games on their cable sports networks (NBC Sports, Fox Sports 1, and CBS Sports, respectively), the price tag involved in securing the deal (and the desire by the NFL to expand the audience of the games) could push the games to their broadcast networks.

How could the TNF package on broadcast affect each of the networks (I assume any broadcast network gets the full 13 game slate)?

ABC: ABC is thought to be one of the networks most bullish on purchasing the package, despite two out of their three biggest programs already airing on the night. There is a lot to recommend the idea, though: ABC could move Grey’s Anatomy to Sunday at 9, upgrading the timeslot and providing a good lead-in to a new drama at 10; they would massively upgrade either Tuesday or Wednesday at 10 with Scandal; they would finally air something the ABC Death Slot (Thursday at 8) can’t take down. Plus, that sort of move is the kind of thing of thing that buys executives another year…

Bubble Ramifications: Frankly, this would be a positive thing for shows like Nashville and Revenge. Knowing that ABC has to come up with three extra hours in January every year, plus the usual replacement shows to cover failed Fall premieres, means that shows sitting on the bench with syndication prospects ahead will look much more attractive than their current situation of eating questionable ratings from September through May.

CBS: To start with, I’d be shocked if CBS won the bid. I don’t believe modern reality has caught up with CBS enough for them to seriously consider such a nuclear option and bid accordingly. Still, on paper, it isn’t all bad: The Big Bang Theory could move back to Monday and hopefully breathe some life back into that comedy block and whatever new drama airs at 10pm, and Elementary can be slotted into another night at 10pm.

Bubble Ramifications: Unless CBS is going to flip The Big Bang Theory between Mondays and Thursdays after the NFL every year, whatever airs on Thursdays in Spring wouldn’t rate nearly as well as it does now, and CBS isn’t in dire enough straits yet to willingly risk having to remake Thursday every January. I just don’t see CBS winning the bid. But for completion’s sake, I don’t believe CBS would think many of their newbie comedies on Thursdays would survive without The Big Bang Theory starting off the night, and while The Millers would get a try on Mondays, Mom and The Crazy Ones would end. Veterans like Mike & Molly and Two and a Half Men would likely get 13 episode orders to either cover failures on Monday or start Thursdays at 8 in January. The Sunday dramas (The Good Wife, The Mentalist) would likely get 13 episode orders (again, greater need for spackle every January) with only a minor fight on price beforehand.

Fox:  The more I think about it, the better the option seems for Fox. Fox could air football in Fall and American Idol in Spring and not have to deal with the sudden hole in the schedule the rest of the networks would have. Their new network development process means that they can easily push some of their projects into next year, as most have no cast signed – just a showrunner and maybe a couple staff writers. (Plus, their array of projects slowly cooking mean they would be the best suited to recover if the NFL (literally) takes their ball away and only airs TNF on NFL Network next year.) Furthermore, the noticeable jump in the ratings averages from TNF would cover any bumps in the road the new developmental process might create. Two downsides though: 1) The games would go deep into the affiliates’ 10 and even 11pm hours. 2) There are likely to be one or two conflicts with MLB Playoff games every year.

Bubble Ramifications: Unlike the rest of the networks, this would essentially be a one-for-one swap of (one night of) The X-Factor for TNF, with little ramifications otherwise. About the only real issue is if Glee stays on Tuesdays, which would squeeze the bubble comedies.

NBC:  To be frank, NBC has little to lose on Thursdays currently. Two days of The Voice and two days of NFL in Fall would put out impressive numbers… in Fall. Having to come up with 7 additional hours of programming every January would sting, and I would expect NBC would have to air more reality shows in winter (closer to the Sundays they had prior to this season). This also gives NBC a graceful out in moving their comedies to another night (not that, say, Tuesdays at 9 is necessarily any easier competition).

Bubble Ramifications: See ABC - 13 episodes of Parenthood for Spring, when they would have seven more hours to cover, could be a useful backup. The situation is not as comfy for the comedies, though – two comedies with a The Voice lead-in, only on Tuesdays, would mean that comedy spackle isn’t needed in bulk, which is a bad situation for the Communitys of the network.

Tom’s Soapbox

The Fallon/Leno newsbits remind me of the ‘outrage’ that erupted over NBC’s plan to swap out part of their schedule for The Jay Leno Show, while the prospect of TNF moving to the networks doesn’t even register a peep. Was it half a decade of the modern business realities catching up to the rest of the networks now, or just the networks seeing a chance to hit a wounded opponent and/or distributors whose business is selling shows seeing their market shrink then? You make the call.

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
Nikita CW Final Season Finished
American Dad Fox Moving to TBS
Ironside NBC Canceled
Welcome To The Family NBC Canceled
Betrayal ABC Cancellation Predicted
Killer Women ABC Cancellation Predicted
Nashville ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Neighbors ABC Cancellation Predicted
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland ABC Cancellation Predicted
Suburgatory ABC Cancellation Predicted
Super Fun Night ABC Cancellation Predicted
Trophy Wife ABC Cancellation Predicted
The Good Wife CBS Cancellation Predicted
Hostages CBS Cancellation Predicted
Intellignce CBS Cancellation Predicted
The Mentalist CBS Cancellation Predicted
Beauty & The Beast CW Cancellation Predicted
The Carrie Diaries CW Cancellation Predicted
The Tomorrow People CW Cancellation Predicted
Almost Human Fox Cancellation Predicted
Dads Fox Cancellation Predicted
Enlisted Fox Cancellation Predicted
The Mindy Project Fox Cancellation Predicted
Raising Hope Fox Cancellation Predicted
Rake Fox Cancellation Predicted
Community NBC 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
Mom CBS On The Bubble
Two and a Half Men CBS On The Bubble
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox On The Bubble
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC Renewal Predicted
Castle ABC Renewal Predicted
The Goldbergs 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
Reign CW Renewal Predicted
Supernatural CW Renewal Predicted
The Vampire Diaries CW Renewal Predicted
Bones Fox Renewal Predicted
Family Guy Fox Renewal Predicted
The Following Fox Renewal Predicted
The New Girl Fox Renewal Predicted
Chicago Fire NBC Renewal Predicted
Chicago PD 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
The Blacklist NBC Renewed


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  • Rishi

    I know for the purposes of the article you (Tom Shaw) stated that you’re assuming 13 weeks of Thursday Night Football; however, let’s say it is only 6 weeks.

    In that case eg. CBS wouldn’t have to remake it’s Thursday Night Lineup. It would just air football for the 6 weeks and it’s comedy slate the rest of the fall. Less repeats during the fall and winter.

  • Bev

    More musicals for NBC.
    That brings in viewers and proved very successful for them.

  • Isobel

    @Ronak agree I just don’t think Rake on a network show works, the lighting’s too bright, Greg Kinnear’s character is much less of a loser and the criminal trials are boring compared to the darkly funny versions the Australian show did. Agree the original version is vastly superior.
    On someone else putting AOS on the bubble, I think it’s a certain renewal due to the Disney connection but probably with a reboot to push more the superhero characters they’re recently been adding.

  • 69RoadRunner

    Go B99! Go Community!

    Almost Human not even on the Bubble? Or Revolution?

  • Uncancel Body of Proof

    Hope The Carrie Diaries gets renewed for another 13 episode season.

    Friday next fall:
    8:00pm: The Carrie Diaries (13 episodes), mid season The 100 (this will likely survive)
    9:00pm: America’s Next Top Model, then Hart of Dixie (13 episodes)

    ABC has clearly made mistakes this year, The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife both had the potential to be the new Middle & Modern Family, but not anymore due to ABC’s bad scheduling. Super Fun Night is good, i can see abc cancelling The Neighbors and renewing Super Fun Night and putting it on Fridays. Nashville should not be back. I’m sorry but the show just keeps sinking, it’s rating is 1.4, If ABC canceled Body Of Proof will over 8 million viewers and a 1.4 season averaged, they will not renew Nashville with scored a 1.4 rating and 5 million on it’s last episode. ABC’s viewership has completely fallen because they are focusing to heavily on the 18-49 rating which does matter, but is irrelevant when the viewership is below 6 million.

    Mindy & Brooklyn will be back, Dads and Raising Hope will be canceled, Enlisted may survive, if it can stay above the 1.0 rating on Fridays.

    Sean Saves The World needs to be saved by NBC. It still beat michael j fox show when they swapped time-slots.

    CBS will renew Mom, The Millers and cancel The Crazy Ones, Two and a Half Men will get renewed for a final season.

  • Chris J

    I’m hoping Fox or NBC get’s the Thursday night Football deal.

    As you said for Fox it would be the perfect fit because they already have American Idol filling up the Spring schedule.

    For NBC they can air Football in the fall on Sunday and Thursday, and then in the Spring they will have “The Bible” series launching new shows on Sundays, and a Super-Bowl-boosted “Space Race” reality series anchoring an all new Thursday night.

    It would be the ideal situation for NBC while they are still rebuilding and recovering.

    CBS and ABC simply don’t need TNF. TBBT and Grey’s/Scandal are going to rate just fine against football anyway. Fox and NBC on the other hand wouldn’t be able to recover on the night if either CBS or ABC got the package. So here’s hoping Fox and NBC are putting aggressive deals forward in order to save their respective networks.

  • danny94

    Community, The good wife, Suburgatory, parenthood and Revolution should all be on the bubble,

  • Charmed

    I can see The Crazy Ones surviving, but with major retooling. I like the show the way it is but it isn’t working out ratings wise

  • Dan S

    I can’t figure out the reasoning for putting Suburgatory on cancellation predicted list. Right now it should be on the bubble as should Rake. IMO the latter could move up in the ratings, the pilot was actually good. It should’ve premiered as the post SB show. The real dark horse could be Enlisted. If it keeps creeping up in the ratings it just may snag a renewal. I decided to get caught up on demand & hope for the best.

  • DC

    Asking good/popular NFL teams to play on short rest multiple times a year would be extremely unfair, which is why every team gets featured in the Thursday package.

    For similar reasons, its also not reasonable to flex in better games to that slot later in the season.

  • Simon

    Still believe that Revolution should be placed ‘On The Bubble’. What other NBC Drama or Comedy that have been put on Wednesday nights at 8 have been this steady?

    At least the SMASH ratings comparisons have come to an end!

  • Boiler

    I would think the last thing anyone needs is Thursday football. If the NFL was serious about curbing injuries and decent games they would end these games. Also, ABC Sports is in essence ESPN so are games going to be on ABC

  • 728huey

    The other scenario about ESPN bidding for the TNF package and airing it on ABC is whether it draws large enough ratings to revise the overall NFL package and allow ESPN/ABC not only airing TNF but a possible wild card and divisional playoff game as well as the Super Bowl. I could see a scenario where both NBC and ABC air the Saturday wild card and divisional playoff games while CBS and FOX air the corresponding Sunday games. This may also rotate the opening night and Thanksgiving night games between NBC and ABC.

  • Shepherd

    While i appreciate your analysis, as far as TNF is concerned I think there are just too many variables to even warrant meaningful discussion at this point. First one needs to speculate on who gets the package, then speculate on how many games the package will be, and only then can one speculate on what that network will do with their schedule. I’m still pulling for The CW. ;)

    I don’t see the similarities in commenter predictions regarding TF and Smash. I actually think I saw way more doom-n-gloom about TF in S.1 than I did for Smash during S.1, but when those same people are crying cancellation after TF premiers to a 4.4, its hard to take them seriously. TF fell during S.1, but it’s ratings were much more steady than Smash’s; stable enough that its hard to call predictions that the show would lose 60% of its audience over the break anything but delusional. Smash on the other hand, only stopped falling because its season was over(S.1). ymmv

    B99 was moved (I don’t watch comedies), but otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much movement in the list that I can see. I still think CPD is in more danger of cancellation than Revolution, and as a bubble show, I’d have to say CPD is closer to cancellation than renewal regardless of last week’s small uptick. I don’t see it completely bucking the trend of declining ratings as the season wears on.

  • Barcas

    I would argue that after the Golden Globe wins Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no longer on the bubble. Is there precedent to an award winning show getting cancelled after?

  • CrimTV

    Football on ABC is the best option.

    1. It brings strength to their ratings
    2. It attracts much-needed male networks and could use this advertise male-skewing shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and new shows+returning shows.

  • CrimTV

    *male viewers

  • were123

    Pushing Daisies won the emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series and it got canned

  • Helen

    Don’t cancel Enlisted; It’s the only FOX show including BONES that I actually enjoy watching. Bones and Enlisted are currently the only FOX shows I enjoy!

  • Rich

    I wish there were a NFL Network 2,so we could get football off network TV. That way,the nets can fill thier schedules with actual programming for those of us who don’t give a whit about “the game”. Same with all sports(MLB Net 2,NHL Net 2,etc.). Sorry,just not into them.

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