The new NBC series Kings first week’s results point to a very short reign. Mark Graham at New York Magazine said it was planned to be a mini-series. We have had many reports to the contrary. Regardless, the point seems moot. It’s not likely to be around more than 13 episodes anyway. Edited on 3/18 to clarify.

There has been lots of chatter on the site in the last week or so of the type “Well, I hope that will increase X‘s Index” that I wanted to address. At this point in the season, for the shows that premiered in the fall, their Indexes will change very little. There are lots of airings already built into the averages and new airings can have only a small effect. That, plus at this point for fall shows, I don’t think small moves in the Index matter very much. Not only do I not think that their future results are likely to vary much (although anything is possible), but I think for the most part the thinking within the networks on these shows has already set in stone. I don’t think  that the thinking within NBC about Law & Order, for example, is going to change (absent highly unlikely future ratings swings).

What can change is their thinking on their unaired spring shows (Southland, Parks & Recreation) and their pilots (which we don’t track). For Law & Order (and other fall shows on the bubble) their die is cast, but how they rank vs. alternatives remains to be determined.

Friday Night Lights will escape cancelation only through the continuing largesse of DirecTV or some other sugar daddy (yes, we read Ausiello too) its ratings are terrible. Life & Knight Rider  are certain to be canceled. Kath & Kim didn’t have a bad start, but now it’s sinking and looks like it will be canceled as well. Law & Order is right on the edge. I’m guessing history and the Dick Wolf mojo keep it alive.

Note that we have a new color category in the lists this week, Renewal Announced.

This is a breakdown of NBC scripted shows and their renewal and cancelation prospects.  Here are the others:

Our Renew / Cancel index predicts potential renewal for *next* season: Canceled/Not Returning, In Danger, or Renewal Likely for 2009-10, Renewal Announced.

PROGRAM Net  STD 18-49 (LIVE+SD) (000)  Network Avg. STD 18-49 Renew/ Cancel index Status
CRUSOE NBC  1,167  3,250 0.36  finished
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS NBC  1,799  3,250 0.55  
LIPSTICK JUNGLE NBC  1,969  3,250 0.61  canceled
KINGS NBC  2,164  3,250 0.67  
LIFE (WED) NBC  2,284  3,250 0.70  
KNIGHT RIDER NBC  2,400  3,250 0.74  
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC  2,636  3,250 0.81  canceled
KATH & KIM NBC  2,823  3,250 0.87  
LAW AND ORDER NBC  2,933  3,250 0.90  
MY NAME IS EARL NBC  3,276  3,250 1.01  
CHUCK NBC  3,300  3,250 1.02  
MEDIUM NBC  3,502  3,250 1.08  
E.R. NBC  4,177  3,250 1.29  final season
30 ROCK NBC  4,237  3,250 1.30  
LAW AND ORDER:SVU NBC  4,454  3,250 1.37  
HEROES NBC  5,123  3,250 1.58  returning
OFFICE NBC  5,321  3,250 1.64  

The Renew/Cancel Index is a show’s Season To Date adults 18-49 viewership divided by its networks Season to Date average 18-49 viewership. I have adjusted the NBC adults 18-49 season to date average to remove the increase (of 370,000) it received during the Super Bowl week because that increase had nothing to do with the normal viewership of the network or any of its other shows.


Friday night – Friday is quickly becoming an 18-49 wasteland, so these shows may be allowed a lower threshold for success than shows on other nights. I honestly have no idea what criteria the CW will use in keeping or not keeping Everybody Hates Chris and The Game. Because of that, and the recent renewals at other networks of poor rated comedies, I’m indicating renewal for them.

Life moved to Wednesday beginning November 5. This is its Wednesday only STD 18-49 average as calculated by me. For past reference, the 4 Life episodes that aired on Fridays averaged 2.043 million adults 18-49.

Friday Night Lights. Even for Friday night, those numbers are turn out the lights awful. But last season, DirecTV pulled out its checkbook and the show continued for another season. If DirecTV (or someone else) is inclined to do it again, the numbers may not matter at all. If they’re not inclined to write the check again, the show’s certain to be cancelled at the end of this season.

Heroes is definitely back for next season.

How did we come up with our Index? We found that last season, the future of a show was nearly directly related to its adults 18-49 average viewers divided by its networks 18-49 average viewers. Many other factors may matter, but they all seemed to boil down to that one number. Because American Idol so skewed Fox’s 18-49 average, and would make nearly all Fox shows fall into the “cancel” range, for Fox, I used the last STD 18-49 average *before* Idol. Last season, if a show had better than 92% of its network’s average 18-49 viewership (0.92 in our index) it was pretty safe, below that level it was in danger.

Remember that plenty can change before the end of the season, particularly for the shows with indexes between 0.80 and last season’s renewal line of 0.92. The list is presented in a (and has to be, since I cannot predict future ratings) “what would happen if the season ended today” mode. Could the renewal line be 0.86 this season? Possibly. It might also be 0.95. Might it be 0.70? No chance.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved. All viewership numbers are Live+SD.

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