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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    Where are getting that a lot of people hated S1 of The Following? I know a lot of people who liked it… And I don’t think you can compare Smash (a show about Broadway) to a thriller show… Not really sure why u have B99 as on the bubble either, it aired higher than NG, and the Super Bowl post slot pretty much guarentees it’s renewel.

  • Barcas

    @were123 That’s right, I forgot. Kristin Chenoweth in her acceptance speech: “I’m unemployed now, so I’d like to be on Mad Men, and I also like The Office and 24.”

  • DenverDean

    Even though FOX stupidly renewed Glee for two years last year, I don’t think it’s a factor for the schedule (or Thursday football should FOX win bid) – it can be dumped on Friday nights (run double-episodes if necessary; run through the holidays/used a bridge series; held for summer 2015.

  • Jerry

    @ Barcas @were123

    In the defense, I would say that it actually won AFTER the show got cancelled. But The Golden Globes is huge no matter how you see it. And I think award shows do matter especially for bubble shows. If the show is a bubble show, it will send there over to the renewed site.

    I vaguely remembered a few shows rating about the same as The Good Wife on CBS during the The Good Wife’s early seasons, but I think The Good Wife stayed while the rest were cancelled because it got Emmy Buzz.

    Of course if a show is a bomb then award shows won’t save it, but if it is on the bubble the network would want some glory.

    Plus I think more realistically awards help in the sense that they act as free publicity for the show in question, and will likely lead to an increase in viewers the next season or episodes.

  • Brad


    The Globe had no affect on B99s ratings 48 hours after. Nothing. It remained flat.

    It grew the week after, which could be tied to increased promotion from Fox.

  • CBSviewer


    – Mom (lowest-rated sitcom)
    – Intelligence
    – Hostages
    – Two and a Half Men
    – The Mentalist

    – Trophy Wife
    – Killer Women
    – The Assets
    – Back in the Game
    – Super Fun Night
    – Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
    – The Neighbors
    – Betrayal
    – Resurrection

    – Ironside
    – Sean Saves the World
    – The Muchael J. Fox Show
    – Welcome to the Family
    – Dracula

    – Dads
    – The Mindy Project
    – Rake
    – Enlisted
    – Raising Hope

    – Beauty and the Beast
    – The Tomorrow People

  • joel

    @ “‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ Upgraded”

    So B99 started at ‘renewal predicted’ for the first two weeks and abruptly went to ‘cancellation predicted’ October 6th where it’s been ever since until now.

    Just admit already that your methodology is seriously flawed when it comes to shows near the numerical middle. With barely an acknowledgement of different gradations of likelihood you’re basically just throwing darts in the hopes that predictions stick.

  • Christian

    As Jerry stated, Kristen Chenowith won the Emmy after Pushing Daisies had already been canceled so it’s not really analogous to Brooklyn 99’s win. I’d say a much more apt comparison is Party of Five winning the GG for best drama back in 95. It was low rated but critically praised and stunned when it won over ER, NYPD Blue and Chicago, which were much bigger hits. Like Brooklyn 99, it also ended its first season in March but FOX believed enough in the show that they brought it back and placed it after 90210 the following year and the rest, as they say, is history.

    I also don’t see the connection between The Following and Smash. Smash had lost more than 50% of its ratings between its pilot and season 1 finale (3.8 vs 1.8), and for the most part, had a steady decline. While The Following had a bit of a decline towards the end, it did recover in its last 2 episodes climbing 3 tenths each week and ending the season with a 2.7, which isn’t bad for a show that began with a 3.2 when more people are watching TV. I guess what they both have in common is that a lot of people sure do love to “hate-watch” both programs. I’ll admit I watch The Following to laugh at how absurd each plot twist is and how implausibly moronic the FBI are portrayed.

  • Ultima

    @Tom Shaw
    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.

    Wouldn’t the higher price tags push the games to cable?

    ESPN currently pays much, much more than the broadcast networks for lower rated games. ESPN averaged 13.7 million viewers this season for 17 MNF games at a price tag of ~$1.9 billion/year. Meanwhile, FOX averaged 21.2 million viewers for its 17 weeks/26 timeslots of Sunday football (and that doesn’t even count the much higher rated Thanksgiving game or the playoffs) for ~$1.1 billion/year.

    By putting the games on their sports nets, they could leverage higher carriage fees and pressure providers to move them to basic cable (more useful for NBCSN and CBSSN). I don’t see what benefit FOX, CBS or NBC would get from putting Thursday Night Football on their broadcast network.

  • dan

    agents of sheild will b cancelled

  • Michael1

    Wait, so ABC wouldn’t put the game on ESPN? That’s a bit ironic.

  • 69RoadRunner


    I believe the earlier commenter was comparing Smash to S2 predictions for Revolution, not The Following.

  • Ultima

    I vaguely remembered a few shows rating about the same as The Good Wife on CBS during the The Good Wife’s early seasons, but I think The Good Wife stayed while the rest were cancelled because it got Emmy Buzz.

    The Good Wife had solid ratings its first season; it had similar ratings to the Criminal Minds spinoff its second season, but having 46 episodes versus 13 is a much more logical case for renewal than an Emmy. Since then, its syndication value has been the primary reason for renewals.

  • Rem

    How can Brooklyn Nine-Nine be on the bubble? It’s got a token homosexual character! Everyone should tune into to see that! ;)

  • Shepherd


    Give me a break! You act as though show never had their predictions changed in the ‘good’ol bubble watch’. I don’t see how you can’t understand that putting a show on the bubble is the same as intentionally making a wrong prediction. I suppose you could argue that it’s the same as pushing any prediction down the road (punting), but how is no prediction what so ever better than someone actually trying to predict a shows fate. Show are either cancelled or renewed for another season; networks don’t announce shows as ‘bubbled’ for another season.

    Bottom line; if you don’t like the bubble watch, don’t read it. They certainly aren’t going to change the format back as long as the post continues to get page-views. Coming back week after week so that you can complain only hurts your cause and makes you look silly.

  • Ultima

    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”.

    There are cable networks that specialize in basically every form of regular programming on broadcast; subsequently, someone could make the exact same argument as you just did about whatever “actual programming” that you happen to like.


  • Shepherd


    I take it that you didn’t read the article.

  • Greg

    The only network that currently needs the NFL package is ABC. The rest is doing just fine for themselves, especially considering that NBC basically only programs original shows on Sundays for three months and FOX doesn’t program at all at 10pm.

    I don’t know why people insist that The X Factor would leave a hole in FOX’s schedule. They could just air two hours of Hell’s Kitchen on Wednesdays. Premiering on September 24 and having a Thanksgiving break, the season would wrap up on December 10. It fits perfectly.

    That leaves only one hour to be filled, and in that case, they could just bring Almost Human back. And done.

  • HalCapone

    I agree with your assessment. Full disclosure: I dislike B-99 and really don’t care what happens to it. For me, there’s way too much Andy Samberg who I find about as unfunny and unwatchable as fellow SNL alum, Adam Sandler but that’s just me. That being said, my gut instinct tells me that B-99 will be renewed for reasons that have less to do with its extremely marginal ratings average and everything to do with the suits at FOX hoping for a hit with some SNL pedigree attached to it.

    What percent of this cancellation/renewal methodology is mathematical probability (in other words, based entirely on numbers, which would include among other things, network historic averages) and what percent is gut instinct? My inner geek would like to know if there is any regression analysis employed by Shaw in developing these predicted outcomes (a tool the networks and advertisers use analyzing the highly detailed Nielsen data). Granted, it’s fun to debate what will be renewed or cancelled; essentially that’s the foundation of this site ultimately. Throwing these charts up to be dissected by passionate fans is certainly a catalyst for engendering provocative discussions which keeps this site operational. The balance between mathematical and emotional analysis will always suspect to me. But I continue to read, nonetheless.

  • Dan

    I agree ABC or NBC would be the best networks to get Thursdays. CBS frankly doesnt need Thursday night football because they have Big Bang on Thursdays and a comedy block that while isn’t amazing, with some retooling could work out next season. NBC would also benefit because they could either start their comedies late if they decide to have comedies on Thursdays, and have less repeats or air something else. FOX doesnt need it because of the limited room they have already with all the shows they have picked up and ABC would benefit slightly more than NBC because they could simply move Grey’s Anatomy to 9pm Sundays, slide Revenge to 10pm, air Scandal 10pm Tuesdays and keep Nashville at 10 Wed, Castle at 10 Mon and AOS 8 Tuesdays. They could simply premiere 1 new drama Tues at 9, keep their wed comedy block and wait until Jan to premiere more new dramas.

    I hope NBC or ABC gets it.

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