Our Renew / Cancel Index predicts potential renewal or cancellation for scripted broadcast primetime shows for the 2010-11 season (includes results through November 1, 2009):

  • Likely To Be Canceled By May, 2010
  • Some Danger Of Being Canceled By May, 2010
  • Likely to Be Renewed For The 2010-11 Season
Program Renew/ Cancel Index
Ugly Betty (S), (F), (P) 0.41
Hank 0.57
Eastwick 0.68
the forgotten 0.69
The Middle 0.73
Castle (P) 0.77
Brothers & Sisters (S), (P) 1.06
FlashForward (P) 1.09
Cougar Town (P) 1.17
Modern Family 1.23
Private Practice (P) 1.29
Desperate Housewives (P) 1.59
Grey’s Anatomy (P) 1.87

Fans of Hank, Eastwick and the forgotten, which are all certain to be canceled because of their woeful ratings, can be happy that the accountants are now in control of the broadcast networks, and instead of removing poor performers from the schedule early they’re letting them finish airing most or all of the 13 episodes of each that were ordered.

Fans of both Castle and The Middle can rest easy for now (although I don’t expect them to), their shows will air all the way through the 22 episodes ordered this season. However, their returns for 2010-2011 are very much in doubt. The relative success of new ABC shows this spring may determine their fates.

Ugly Betty only returned to get enough episodes for syndication, which it will have by the end of this season. It’s ratings are dreadful. Could ABC keep it longer to produce even more episodes regardless of the ratings? It’s not 100% out of the question, but it’s a real longshot.

Against lots of CBS and a few CW repeats last week, some individual ABC shows had ratings upticks that gave the craziest of their fans some false hopes. Don’t be fooled, what really matters for renewal or cancellation is how they do vs. their ABC stablemates. It’s a bit like the old joke about two guys with a bear chasing them. You don’t need to out run the bear to survive, just the other guy.

This is a breakdown of ABC scripted shows and their renewal and cancellation prospects. Here are links to the other networks:


The Renew/Cancel Index is a show’s Season To Date adults 18-49 rating divided by its network’s Season to Date average 18-49 rating. If a show’s season to date 18-49 ratings average equalled its network’s 18-49 average, the show would have an Index of 1.00. Without special factors, scripted shows that were more than 10% below their network’s average are typically canceled by the end of the broadcast primetime season.

Factors that could cause a show to be renewed with a well below average Index:

  • (F) -Fridays: Shows airing on Fridays have been renewed with significantly lower than average Indexes.
  • (S) – Syndication: Shows nearing syndication (66-88 episodes), often have economic factors that trump ratings leading to renewal.
  • (T) – Third Party: Shows that have a portion of their cost underwritten by a 3rd party can be renewed with substantially lower ratings.
  • (P) – Produced by the network’s production company – For shows on the bubble, being produced by the network’s corporate production company can be a survival advantage. For real losers, it’s unlikely to help.

While I initially tried to designate shows with “plum” timeslots, I think that’s hard to make that call at this point in the season. It’s likely still a factor, but will have to be an “after the fact” call.

What’s the History of the Index and How Did It Do In the Past? Check out the results from the 2007-8 season and the 2008-9 season.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved. All ratings used are Live+Same Day viewing.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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