Our Renew / Cancel Index predicts potential renewal or cancellation for scripted broadcast primetime shows for the 2010-11 season (results through November 8, 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
Law & Order (F), (P) 0.53
Trauma (P) 0.70
Mercy (P) 0.72
Parks & Recreation (P) 0.75
Community 0.84
Heroes (P) 0.93
Law & Order: SVU (P) 0.96
30 Rock (P) 1.15
The Office (P) 1.56

Like ABC with Eastwick and the forgotten, NBC has two new ratings dogs in the pound and chose to extend Mercy’s life and kill Trauma early. Even though a few more Mercy episodes will be produced, the end result will be the same. Neither show is coming back next season.

Law & Order hit 2 season high ratings last Friday a 1.7 at 8pm and a 1.8 at 9pm. That’s very positive. Holding a 1.8 rating would likely ensure renewal. Even with a 1.7 it’s not out of the question. NBC’s current 18-49 average rating is a 2.7, but that will plunge once football ends. If NBC ends up averaging a 2.5 rating overall, a 1.7 rating on a Friday might save L&O. 1.7/2.5 = 0.68.

The ratings carnage at NBC is so complete that unless a miracle happens this spring with their new shows (and their development slate) the network very well may have to have to hold its nose and keep some of its well below average performers. If that happens, 30 minute sitcoms like Community and Parks & Recreation are the likely candidates.

This is a breakdown of NBC 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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