Every tick up and down in the 18-49 demo ratings seems to send Chuck fans into fits of glee or dispair (at least on our site). Interestingly, My Name is Earl and Medium have nearly the same ratings, and to me the same prospects, but where are their fans?

I still think all 3 of those shows are still in the “good enough” category and will survive another season. I think that events outside of the future ratings (which are likely to change little) of those three shows will determine their fate. The epic calamity that is Kings has got to be a mark in their favor. It would give any thinking person pause to imagine that anything new has got to do better than their existing shows. But, then again, this is NBC management we’re talking about. Watch the results for Parks & Recreation and Southland for more clues as to the prospects for those 3 competing shows. As for pilots and their prospects, I am completely in the dark.

Friday Night Lights will escape cancelation only through the continuing largesse of DirecTV or some other sugar daddy its ratings are terrible. 3/30 Update: DirecTV is still in the spending mood, and FNL has been renewed for 2 more years.

KingsLife & 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.

Update: My unclear writing my have struck again. After reading many comments of the “What? He says the Index doesn’t matter?” variety, let me try and clear things up. The Index, and the numbers behind it, matters. They indicate, right now, the shows certain to be canceled and those in some danger (already discussed above in this post). However, the Index is not likely to change much for the fall shows going forward. And there are other factors that matter in the final decision that the Index cannot quantify, like the potential appeal for NBC of their new pilots.

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  3,210 0.36  finished
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS NBC  1,777  3,210 0.55  2 yr. renewal
LIPSTICK JUNGLE NBC  1,969  3,210 0.61  canceled
KINGS NBC  1,994  3,210 0.62  
LIFE (WED) NBC  2,259  3,210 0.70  
KNIGHT RIDER NBC  2,400  3,210 0.75  
MY OWN WORST ENEMY NBC  2,636  3,210 0.82  canceled
KATH & KIM NBC  2,824  3,210 0.88  
LAW AND ORDER NBC  2,925  3,210 0.91  
CHUCK NBC  3,207  3,210 1.00  
MEDIUM NBC  3,259  3,210 1.02  
MY NAME IS EARL NBC  3,277  3,210 1.02  
E.R. NBC  4,181  3,210 1.30  final season
30 ROCK NBC  4,238  3,210 1.32  returning
LAW AND ORDER:SVU NBC  4,460  3,210 1.39  
HEROES NBC  4,943  3,210 1.54  returning
OFFICE NBC  5,319  3,210 1.66  returning

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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