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.
Network Goals: The 2013-2014 Schedule Summary
At this year’s upfronts, I saw a number of articles exclaiming how the author didn’t know why Network X had the schedule they did. Personally, each network’s goals seemed clear and reasonable. My views on each network’s goal (and how various shows are doing this week) follows:
Primary Goal: Avoid more leaks.
A mountain of ink (and pixels) has been written about NBC’s struggles over the last half decade. The truth of the matter is that ABC hasn’t fared much better; roughly one success a season has given the impression they aren’t in shambles.
ABC’s situation is so shaky that their goal was simple: leave any veteran doing even adequate ratings where it was and try new shows in the holes on the schedule. The last thing the network needs is to move, say, Castle, and have it fall apart in its new timeslot and the show that replaced Castle fail as well. None of the veterans have significantly fallen apart from last year, but the rookies haven’t fared so well:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen almost 40% since its premiere; this week’s rating was still the third highest drama on TV (The Blacklist & Scandal were tied for first). In no surprise, the show was given a backorder.
The Goldbergs, even with that lead-in, has fallen below all the veteran comedies. Its survival probably depends on how many comedy hours ABC goes with next year.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premiered at only 75% of ABC’s scripted average for the year. Chalk up another one to the ABC Death Slot.
Primary Goal: Try new comedies.
Secondary Goal: Investigate 10pm options.
CBS has a rare problem: too many of their comedies were successes. The catch is that How I Met Your Mother is ending, Two and a Half Men is getting old and expensive, and Mike & Molly isn’t a break-out hit. How does CBS aim for multiple new comedies to replenish the ranks when they only have one or two timeslots to work with?
Answer: Expand to four comedy hours (and eat NBC’s former lunch in the process).
However, the gambit hasn’t particularly worked, so far:
We Are Men only dropped 10% in Week 2. However, it started off so low that the first two weeks’ numbers led to its cancellation, and a schedule shuffle on Monday.
Mom will now have The Big Bang Theory repeats as its lead-in for a few weeks; I am unconvinced they will goose Mom enough before the backorder decision has to be made.
The Millers only dropped 9% in Week 2; score another victory for the power of The Big Bang Theory.
The Crazy Ones still hasn’t settled, dropping another 17% this week. One single-cam already down; one more to go?
As for 10pm, people like to say that CBS is immune to how TV works nowadays. This is wrong. CBS still feels the pressures the rest of the industry faces, they just feel them roughly 5 years after NBC does. First Friday fell apart, then Sunday, and now the 10pm hour. (This sort of temporal shift isn’t uncommon; for a while ABC was running one year behind NBC).
To combat this, CBS tried everything they could this year in the hour:
Hostages, a serial with a well-known cast and high production values, continues to flounder and won’t be renewed.
Person of Interest was CBS’ newest drama hit; at 10pm, it has dropped down to numbers equivalent to what CSI and Elementary do.
CSI and Elementary continue to chug along, though no one will be shouting about their numbers.
Or to review, the expensive serial didn’t work, nor did the fresh contender break out. I think CSI and its ilk will be running for years at 10pm, as long as they can continue to cycle out expensive cast members.
Primary Goal: Avoid Singing Competitions
CW doesn’t have much real estate to work with; even worse, what little they have plays chicken with the kinds of singing competitions favored by the W18-34 the network used to target.
Hart of Dixie was thrown under The Voice bus; only down a tick or so from Tuesdays last year, it will hit its syndication lap next year, even if it ends up on Fridays.
Beauty & The Beast didn’t fare so well vs. The Voice, dropping 40% from how it ended last year. If it drops any more, it has a very real chance of being swapped out for The Carrie Diaries.
The Originals, not up against a new The Voice, did as well in its regular timeslot as Arrow did this week.
Supernatural returned as the #1 rated show of the week for The CW. Frankly, the show’s survival is one of the more interesting stories of The CW’s history.
The Tomorrow People did as well as its Arrow lead-in against The X-Factor. If it holds up as well against AI, it’ll be back next year.
Primary Goal: Grow new dramas.
Fox doesn’t have much in the way of dramas – Bones is getting older, Glee is only a hit amongst W18-34, and who knows how The Following will return. So cue a schedule that allows Fox to aim all their promotional power at one new drama at a time.
Sleepy Hollow already succeeded in getting a second season – though not a backorder, as the schedule is already overcrowded with unscheduled Glee and Gang Related episodes. Next up to bat: Almost Human.
Primary Goal: Use The Voice.
Secondary Goal: Reboot Thursdays.
The Voice and Sunday Night Football are the only real strengths of NBC’s schedule. NBC wisely decided to use The Voice to aid their dramas: to give The Blacklist a healthy start and try and bump Chicago Fire into the kind of show that anchors a night.
Chicago Fire, airing after a The Voice clip show, was up about half a point vs. its performance on Wednesdays late last year. The Voice seems to be working.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Thursdays, as the entire lineup tied or did worse than Parks & Recreation did against The Big Bang Theory. That sort of performance doesn’t make you wonder about how they schedule the night next year, it makes you wonder about who will do it.
Note: only scripted shows that have aired at least one episode this season are in the table below.
|How I Met Your Mother||CBS||Final Season|
|We Are Men||CBS||Canceled|
|American Dad||Fox||Moving to TBS|
|Back In The Game||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Neighbors||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Once Upon a Time in Wonderland||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Trophy Wife||ABC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Good Wife||CBS||Cancellation Predicted|
|Hawaii Five-0||CBS||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Mentalist||CBS||Cancellation Predicted|
|Beauty & The Beast||CW||Cancellation Predicted|
|Brooklyn Nine-Nine||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Mindy Project||Fox||Cancellation Predicted|
|Sean Saves The World||NBC||Cancellation Predicted|
|Welcome To The Family||NBC||Cancellation Predicted|
|The Goldbergs||ABC||On The Bubble|
|Super Fun Night||ABC||On The Bubble|
|Two and a Half Men||CBS||On The Bubble|
|Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.||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|
|The Big Bang Theory||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Blue Bloods||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|The Crazy Ones||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Criminal Minds||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|The Millers||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|NCIS: LA||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Person of Interest||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|2 Broke Girls||CBS||Renewal Predicted|
|Hart of Dixie||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|The Originals||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|The Tomorrow People||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|The Vampire Diaries||CW||Renewal Predicted|
|Family Guy||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|The New Girl||Fox||Renewal Predicted|
|The Blacklist||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Chicago Fire||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Law & Order: SVU||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|The Michael J Fox Show||NBC||Renewal Predicted|
|Parks & Recreation||NBC||Renewal Predicted|