law and order
Our Renew / Cancel Index predicts potential renewal or cancellation for scripted broadcast primetime shows for the 2010-11 season (results through November 15, 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) 0.54
Trauma (P) 0.69
Mercy (P) 0.71
Parks & Recreation (P) 0.75
Community 0.83
Heroes (P) 0.92
Law & Order: SVU (P) 0.97
30 Rock (P) 1.14
The Office (P) 1.56

Who was the guy who wrote “Law & Order: Twenty And Done“? Oh yeah, me.

In my defense, the show’s ratings on Friday began terribly. Here are the adults 18-49 ratings for the episodes this season (1.2, 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.7, 1.6). It’s almost as if the fans couldn’t find the show during its first two weeks. A show increasing its ratings by 25+% over a short period like that rarely happens.

If Law & Order can hold a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating on Friday (maybe even a 1.6 rating) it’s back on NBC next season. With a 1.7 rating and assuming that NBC’s overall average falls after football to a 2.5, that would produce an Index of 0.68. CBS renews its Friday dramas with those relative ratings, I figure NBC will too.

Trauma is canceled now, no new episodes will be ordered. Mercy’s ratings make it effectively as canceled at the end of the season. It has a 22 episode order, but it has done no better than Trauma. No chance it comes back next season.

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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