I’ve been know to toss around “retentionista”, a term I coined, in our posts and comments from time to time and am often asked what it means, so instead of re-answering the question again and again, without further ado:

Retentionista | ri?ten ch ?n?n?st?|
Member of a group that judges the success or failure of a television show based solely on its viewership (or rating) “retention” from the preceding show.

USE Raising Hope’s retention from American Idol last night was just 42%, it’s a loser!

ORIGIN 2009, TVbytheNumbers.com

Why is retention nonsense as the primary measure of a TV show’s likelihood for cancellation or renewal?

Because there is no demonstrated record of being able to predict renewal or cancellation of TV shows based on “retention” that’s better than simply using a show’s relative (to the rest of its network) ratings.

Put another way, if “retention” is such a valuable tool in determining the likelihood of renewal or cancellation:

  • Where are the shows with high “retention”, but low relative ratings that have been renewed in recent years?
  • Where are the shows with low “retention”, but high relative ratings, that have been cancelled in recent years?

They don’t exist. Retentionistas may feel free to provide examples in the comments.

On the other hand, plenty of shows that follow each networks higher rated shows and had “bad retention” are renewed each season. From next season’s early renewals alone (there will certainly be more once all renewals are announced):

  • Raising Hope (follows Glee) – renewed!
  • 30 Rock (has in the past followed The Office) – renewed!
  • Private Practice (follows Grey’s Anatomy) – renewed!
  • Cougar Town (following Modern Family) – renewed!
  • Castle (often follows Dancing With The Stars) – renewed!
  • Nikita (follows The Vampire Diaries) – renewed!

So what’s better than “retention” at prediction?

We prefer to use the relative ratings of a scripted show vs. the rest of the scripted shows on the same network as our prediction metric for both the Renew / Cancel Index and Bubble Watch. There is ample evidence of their record of accuracy in prediction.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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