Failure factor: How bad was the 2015-16 TV season for new shows?

failure-factor-2015-16-new-shows

At first blush, the 2015-16 TV season looks like a pretty weak year for new series. After doing some number crunching, however, it’s not quite as dire as it seems.

The five broadcast networks ordered 44 new scripted series for the season. None of them can fairly be called breakout hits, which may not speak well to their multi-season viability. But in terms of just making it to Season 2, the recently completed season was one of the best for new shows in recent years.

To date, 17 new scripted shows have been renewed and 23 canceled, with one (FOX’s “Houdini and Doyle”) undetermined and three (ABC’s “Uncle Buck” and CBS’ “American Gothic” and “BrainDead”) yet to air.

Assuming all of those shows are renewed, that would make for a failure rate of 52.3 percent. Even if all four end up canceled, it would still be under the average failure rate (currently 63 percent) since 2009-10.

Here’s how first-year shows have fared since the 2009-10 season:

Season New scripted shows Renewed Canceled Failure rate
2009-10 33 13 20 60.6%
2010-11 37 10 27 73.0%
2011-12 44 16 28 63.6%
2012-13 37 11 26 70.3%
2013-14 44 13 31 70.5%
2014-15 46 22 24 52.2%
2015-16* 44 17 23 52.3%
Totals 285 102 179 62.8%

*Renewed and canceled totals for 2015-16 do not include ABC’s “Uncle Buck,” CBS’ “American Gothic” and “BrainDead” and FOX’s “Houdini and Doyle.” The final failure rate for the season will be between 52.3 percent and 61.4 percent.

In each of the past two seasons, the networks have collectively renewed about half their rookie shows. That could be a play for stability amid declining viewership or an effort to keep shows owned by sister studios alive for possible streaming and syndication deals down the road, or just a recognition that a so-so rating in hand is maybe better than an unknown for yet another new show.

Follow the links below for breakdowns of each individual network’s performance.

ABC | CBS | The CW | FOX | NBC

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