Broadcast Rat Race Week 1: “Blindspot” a Bright Spot, “The Muppets” Makes a Splash, “Minority Report” Looks Grim

I’m introducing a new feature on Da Blog, adapting the Renew/Cancel Index used by TVbytheNumbers the past few years to predict the fates of scripted shows on broadcast television. The basic formula involves taking the average live+same day 18-49 ratings of each show and dividing by the average of all scripted shows on that network. Shows above about .85-.9 generally get renewed, those below .7-.75 generally cancelled, with shows on Friday getting about .2 leeway given the lower ratings on the night.

The adaptation I’ve made is an attempt to address two related issues: first, shows could premiere to great ratings and then crash through the floor in subsequent episodes, resulting in the Index’s prediction adjusting to the show’s post-crash level faster than the Index number can catch up to the show’s new level. Second, the Index has generally reset at midseason, with the index numbers only factoring in shows’ performances in the new year, indicating that decisions on the renewal or cancellation of shows tend to weight ratings later in the season more heavily, if they don’t ignore fall ratings entirely. To address these, my Index is calculated by averaging each show’s most recent rating with the previous week’s average, so after the first two episodes the show’s average 18-49 rating is what gets divided by the network average, but after three episodes the third episode’s rating is averaged with the average of the first two episodes, so each episode counts twice as much as the one before. The network average is calculated normally. This isn’t a perfect approach, as it doesn’t really solve the first problem until at least the third episode and may overcorrect for the second problem, but most shows eventually find a level and put forth fairly consistent ratings for the latter part of the season.

Although 18-49 ratings are the main factor that goes into whether a show is renewed or cancelled, they aren’t the only one, especially for shows in the in-between range, although the other factors are pretty much all based around various business relationships and concerns and most of the other things that get bandied about in the media are ultimately irrelevant. Most obviously, a show that is produced in-house will generally get the edge over a show that isn’t, but one of the biggest factors in the fate of shows, especially veteran shows, that doesn’t often get talked about is the economics of the syndication market, which results in most shows being able to be broken down into a few categories based on their age, very few of which make it to the latter stages, which are affected by the index differently.

  • Rookie shows could conceivably get an index number anywhere on the scale, since the network has picked them up without having any past performance to work off of. Most rookie shows are only ordered for around 13 episodes, not the usual 22, and must earn their “back 9” orders based on their early ratings. Most shows with index numbers below .5 are rookie shows, and a show that does that poorly could well be cancelled after a handful of episodes, with the remainder of their initial orders being burned off in summer and/or on Saturdays (although networks may be moving towards letting them finish their initial orders no matter what). On the other end, rookie shows are particularly likely to have inflated premiere episodes, so rookie shows whose premiere ratings put them above the in-between range may be noted as being “Too Early” to call their fates. This year’s rookies, at least among shows premiering by the end of this week, are “The Muppets”, “Blood and Oil”, “Quantico”, “Dr. Ken” (ABC); “Life in Pieces”, “Limitless”, “Code Black” (CBS); “Blindspot”, “The Player” (NBC); “Minority Report”, “Scream Queens”, “Rosewood”, “Grandfathered”, and “The Grinder” (FOX).
  • Sophomore shows, that is, shows in their second season or otherwise finishing the season with less than 60 episodes, have established their security over the course of an entire season and thus enter Season 2 with a full 22 episodes to play with. Their performance generally only determines what their fate will be in May when the network makes their decisions for next year. “Fresh Off the Boat”, “black-ish”, “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC); “Scorpion”, “NCIS: New Orleans”, “Madam Secretary”, “CSI: Cyber” (CBS); “The Mysteries of Laura” (NBC); “Gotham”, “Empire”, “The Last Man on Earth”, and “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox) are in this category.
  • Things start getting interesting for shows on the syndication fast track. When a show is within a season of the magic number for syndication (generally assumed to be 88, or about four full seasons, although that number may be dropping to the low 70s), the production company will do everything in their power to get the show the additional season they need to get over that magic number. Thus, shows that will finish their season (usually the third) with a season’s worth of episodes left to hit 88 are all but guaranteed to get the fourth season they need to get over the hump. It isn’t quite a guarantee, especially for shows that aren’t produced in-house given “The Mindy Project” was cancelled after three seasons last year and had to finish its run online, but it is a force unstoppable enough that TVBTN predicts certain renewal for every in-house show in this category. I don’t go that far, but shows in this category do start out with the color of “probable renewal” in their prediction column before they premiere, and thereafter are placed one color rank higher than their index number would otherwise suggest; in-house productions may never fall below “probable renewal”. “The Goldbergs”, “Agents of SHIELD” (ABC); “Chicago PD”, “The Blacklist” (NBC); and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (FOX) are all shows premiering by the end of this week that are on the fast-track; “Sleepy Hollow” is not, despite being in its third season, because it’s a half-season-long “limited series” whose shorter episode orders don’t put it in range. (CBS isn’t devoid of fast-track shows, but “Mom” doesn’t premiere until after Thursday Night Football ends.) On the other hand, I may be a teensy bit more likely to predict cancellation for non-in-house shows on the lower end of the in-between range that would enter this category next season.
  • All other shows are veteran shows, which for my purposes are all shows that have gotten over the 88-episode hump for syndication, or are in the process of doing so. These shows could still be cancelled, but especially for in-house shows, the terms of the syndication deal can matter as much if not more than the show’s ratings in going into the decision. A network could very well keep a marginally-rated show on the air in order to pump out more episodes to feed the syndication pipeline. As such, the “probably cancelled”, in-between, and “probably renewed” ranges extend a bit further down than in the first two categories, and predictions for these shows are much more of a crapshoot in general unless they have ratings good enough for renewal in their own right. The renewal and cancellation of rookie and sophomore shows can be reasonably reliably predicted based on their ratings and who produces them; if a bunch of veteran shows are all on the bubble, nothing you do is likely to be much more accurate than guessing, which also makes it harder to predict the fortunes of young shows.

How to read the chart: First box shows current time slot, second box current season number. Eps: Total number of episodes aired / total number of episodes ordered (if known). Last: 18-49 rating of the most recent episode. Raw: Average of first-run 18-49 ratings. Adj.: Average of the most recent episode and the previous Adj. rating. RawIdx: Raw divided by the network scripted show average. Index: Adj. divided by the network scripted show average. In general, >1.1=certain renewal, .85-1.1=probable renewal, .7-.85=on the bubble, .6-.7=probably cancelled. Anything substantially less than .6 for rookie shows indicates a dead show walking. Prod: Production company that produces the show (ABC=ABC Studios, CBS=CBS Television, Fox=20th Television, NBCU=Universal Television, Sony=Sony Pictures Television, WB=Warner Bros. Television). Asterisks indicate co-productions distributed by company shown. Incorporates ratings through Sunday, September 27; write-ups do not take into account Monday’s ratings or news. Network averages used: ABC 2.15, CBS 2.12, FOX 2.06, NBC 1.86.

Empire FOX #1 Cert. Renew
Wed 9:00 Season 2 Eps: 13/30 Last: 6.7 Raw: 6.7 Adj.: 6.7 RawIdx: 3.25 Index: 3.25 Prod: Fox
“Empire” continues to defy all conventional wisdom. You read that right: “Empire”‘s premiere did over three times Fox’s network average for the week, skewing the average so much that its lead-in was the only other show to perform above the network average. TVbytheNumbers decided to cut Fox’s other shows some slack as a result, on grounds that they shouldn’t be compared to an “Empire”-inflated average, but while I did tend to favor the more positive side of the cutline for most shows, I see some signs that the heavy skew has as much to do with Fox’s non-Wednesday shows underperforming as the strength of “Empire”: even with “Empire” Fox’s scripted average was only good for third place, and most of Fox’s shows have reason to lament their underperforming regardless, as we’ll see. I expect “Empire” to slip at least a little after its premiere, though expecting “Empire” to slip at all has been a losing proposition so far, and that, plus Fox’s Sunday shows getting their ratings inflated by the NFL doubleheader, could provide a better baseline to compare Fox’s other shows to.
The Big Bang Theory CBS #1 Renewed
Mon 8:00 Season 9 Eps: 184 Last: 4.7 Raw: 4.7 Adj.: 4.7 RawIdx: 2.21 Index: 2.21 Prod: WB
The Season 9 premiere of “The Big Bang Theory”, featuring the wedding of Leonard and Penny, received a 4.7 adults 18-49 rating, down substantially from a 5.5 and 5.4 from last year’s two-part premiere.
Blindspot NBC #1 Too Early
Mon 10:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 3.1 Raw: 3.1 Adj.: 3.1 RawIdx: 1.67 Index: 1.67 Prod: WB
NBC has to be happy with the early results for Blindspot, but it doesn’t mean anything until we see how much these numbers hold up.
Scandal ABC #1 Cert. Renew
Thu 9:00 Season 5 Eps: 70 Last: 3.3 Raw: 3.3 Adj.: 3.3 RawIdx: 1.53 Index: 1.53 Prod: ABC
The premiere of “Scandal” dropped half a point from last year’s premiere.
Modern Family ABC #2 Cert. Renew
Wed 9:00 Season 7 Eps: 145/168 Last: 3.2 Raw: 3.2 Adj.: 3.2 RawIdx: 1.49 Index: 1.49 Prod: Fox
The premiere of “Modern Family” was down seven tenths from last year’s premiere, and in fact reached a level the show didn’t see last year until close to midseason. Fortunately ABC’s other Wednesday comedies are doing well enough for it not to be cause for concern.
The Muppets ABC #3 Too Early
Tue 8:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 2.9 Raw: 2.9 Adj.: 2.9 RawIdx: 1.35 Index: 1.35 Prod: ABC
“The Muppets” had ABC’s best 18-49 scripted-show performance of any show not named “Modern Family” or “Scandal”, but we’ll wait and see how many people come back for future episodes before declaring that ABC has found a new comedy tentpole.
Grey’s Anatomy ABC #4 Cert. Renew
Thu 8:00 Season 12 Eps: 245/268 Last: 2.8 Raw: 2.8 Adj.: 2.8 RawIdx: 1.30 Index: 1.30 Prod: ABC
The premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy” slipped by three-tenths from last year’s premiere.
Life in Pieces CBS #2 Too Early
Mon 8:30 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 2.6 Raw: 2.6 Adj.: 2.6 RawIdx: 1.23 Index: 1.23 Prod: Fox
“Life in Pieces” retained more than half of its “Big Bang Theory” lead-in, but it can’t consider itself safe yet, as it doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room before slipping to only probable renewal. Still, that’s better than not having much wiggle room before slipping down to the bubble, and the premiere of CBS’ Sunday shows this week are likely to drag down the network average and nudge “Life in Pieces”‘ index up.
How to Get Away with Murder ABC #5 Cert. Renew
Thu 10:00 Season 2 Eps: 16/30 Last: 2.6 Raw: 2.6 Adj.: 2.6 RawIdx: 1.21 Index: 1.21 Prod: ABC
Potential cause for concern: no episode in “How to Get Away with Murder”‘s first season fell below a 2.7, so for the premiere of Season 2 to fall further may not be a good sign for long-term prospects. Fortunately, “HtGAwM” still has a good amount of room between itself and probable renewal, let alone the bubble.
NCIS CBS #3 Cert. Renew
Tue 8:00 Season 13 Eps: 283 Last: 2.5 Raw: 2.5 Adj.: 2.5 RawIdx: 1.18 Index: 1.18 Prod: CBS
“NCIS” slipped four tenths from last year’s premiere. Potentially more worrisome for CBS is that the premiere landed roughly in the range the show was doing early last year shortly after the premiere, suggesting the show might not pick up much better than where it left off last year, where it was finishing in the 2.0-2.1 range heading into sweeps. Obviously that’s not a problem for “NCIS” – note the prediction – but it could be a problem for the rest of CBS’ Tuesday night lineup.
Rosewood FOX #2 Too Early
Wed 8:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 2.4 Raw: 2.4 Adj.: 2.4 RawIdx: 1.17 Index: 1.17 Prod: Fox
Fox showed a lot of trust in “Rosewood” by not only scheduling it the same night as “Empire” but having it lead off the night rather than give it “Empire” as a lead-in, and so far it’s rewarded that trust. If form for Fox’s other shows holds “Rosewood” could have a lot of room to fall and still be renewed.
The Goldbergs ABC #6 Cert. Renew
Wed 8:30 Season 3 Eps: 48 Last: 2.4 Raw: 2.4 Adj.: 2.4 RawIdx: 1.12 Index: 1.12 Prod: Sony
The premiere of “The Goldbergs”‘ fast-track season got off to a strong start, finishing even with last year’s premiere.
Black-ish ABC #6 Prob. Renew
Wed 9:30 Season 2 Eps: 25/46 Last: 2.4 Raw: 2.4 Adj.: 2.4 RawIdx: 1.12 Index: 1.12 Prod: ABC
For a premiere episode, “black-ish” finished uncomfortably close to the cut-off for me to give it a full-throated certain renewal just yet.
Heroes Reborn NBC #2 Miniseries
Thu 10:00 Season 5 Eps: 2/13 Last: 2.0 Raw: 2.0 Adj.: 2.0 RawIdx: 1.08 Index: 1.08 Prod: NBCU
If NBC was hoping to get a lift from “Heroes Reborn” on the rest of their schedule, it’s not looking good. The miniseries’ 2.0 opening rating is okay, but it looks like it could end up in the middle of the pack.
Scorpion CBS #4 Prob. Renew
Mon 9:00 Season 2 Eps: 23/46 Last: 2.2 Raw: 2.2 Adj.: 2.2 RawIdx: 1.04 Index: 1.04 Prod: CBS
“Scorpion”‘s second season premiere finished down a full ratings point from last year’s series premiere, but that’s not surprising. It finished even with last year’s finale and should be in good shape going forward.
The Middle ABC #8 Prob. Renew
Wed 8:00 Season 7 Eps: 145 Last: 2.1 Raw: 2.1 Adj.: 2.1 RawIdx: .98 Index: .98 Prod: WB
“The Middle” slipped a tenth from last year’s premiere but continues to be a strong performer for ABC.
Law and Order: SVU NBC #3 Prob. Renew
Wed 9:00 Season 17 Eps: 368 Last: 1.8 Raw: 1.8 Adj.: 1.8 RawIdx: .97 Index: .97 Prod: NBCU
SVU’s two-hour premiere slipped by four tenths from last year’s one-hour premiere, but still drew strong ratings for NBC.
Limitless CBS #5 Too Early
Tue 10:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 1.9 Raw: 1.9 Adj.: 1.9 RawIdx: .90 Index: .90 Prod: CBS
You never declare a rookie show renewed after Week 1, especially one as close to the bubble as this, but nonetheless there are some very encouraging signs for “Limitless”: it actually improved on its “NCIS: New Orleans” lead-in, and these numbers are better than they look because CBS’s usually-underperforming Sunday shows have yet to premiere. It can probably slip two or three tenths next week and still be in decent position for renewal.
Fresh Off the Boat ABC #9 Prob. Renew
Tue 8:30 Season 2 Eps: 14 Last: 1.9 Raw: 1.9 Adj.: 1.9 RawIdx: .89 Index: .89 Prod: Fox
“Fresh Off the Boat” was propelled by its much-hyped “Muppets” lead-in to a strong premiere for its second season, reaching ratings only a handful of episodes from early in the show’s first season reached. Whether or not those viewers stay there is another matter, but “Fresh Off the Boat” has plenty of reason to be optimistic about its chances to make it to the fast track.
Quantico ABC #9 Too Early
Sun 10:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13 Last: 1.9 Raw: 1.9 Adj.: 1.9 RawIdx: .89 Index: .89 Prod: ABC
“Quantico” opened as the highest-rated show of ABC’s Sunday lineup, but that doesn’t mean anything until we see how it holds up.
Scream Queens FOX #3 Too Early
Tue 9:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 1.7 Raw: 1.7 Adj.: 1.7 RawIdx: .83 Index: .83 Prod: Fox
The headlines on Wednesday were of how disappointing the ratings for Fox’s much-hyped “Scream Queens” were, so the fact it was the network’s highest-rated scripted show not to share a night with “Empire” doesn’t really bode well for the rest of Fox’s lineup. Granted, people’s expectations were probably over-inflated to begin with (a 4 or above?) and Fox has a point about how the show didn’t have a lead-in and is likely to be heavily time-shifted, though history is lacking in examples of strong time-shifting numbers being anything but cold comfort. Fox had better hope numbers rebound for future episodes, because realistically these numbers should land it right on the bubble.
Once Upon a Time ABC #11 On Bubble
Sun 8:00 Season 5 Eps: 90/111 Last: 1.8 Raw: 1.8 Adj.: 1.8 RawIdx: .83 Index: .83 Prod: ABC
Ooh. “Once Upon a Time”‘s premiere was down a full 1.7 points from last year’s premiere, on par with last year’s finale and the relatively poor ratings the show did in the latter half of last season. That was okay for the spring, but it might not cut it in the higher-rated fall.
NCIS: New Orleans CBS #6 On Bubble
Tue 9:00 Season 2 Eps: 24/49 Last: 1.7 Raw: 1.7 Adj.: 1.7 RawIdx: .80 Index: .80 Prod: CBS
It’s kind of embarrassing when the premiere of “NCIS: New Orleans” does worse than the new show that airs after it, but it’s downright worrying when the premiere only finishes a point higher than the show’s series low. The show has a decent shot of improving into the probable-renewal range when the Sunday shows premiere, but that assumes it doesn’t keep leaking viewers all season. The bigger embarrassment for CBS would be if its cash cow failed to get a third show into the syndication range.
Gotham FOX #4 On Bubble
Mon 8:00 Season 2 Eps: 23 Last: 1.6 Raw: 1.6 Adj.: 1.6 RawIdx: .78 Index: .78 Prod: WB
All things considered, “Gotham” is in reasonably good shape, but it picked up its second season in the same range it was in in April, when its ratings abruptly plunged after never falling below 1.8 but taking March off. “Gotham” was Fox’s biggest non-“Empire” hit last year, so a substantial slip in the ratings isn’t too hard on its chances and the “On the Bubble” status I’ve given it probably overstates its jeopardy, but there are things to be worried about when it comes to its long-term viability.
The Simpsons FOX #5 Renewed
Sun 8:00 Season 27 Eps: 575/625 Last: 1.5 Raw: 1.5 Adj.: 1.5 RawIdx: .73 Index: .73 Prod: Fox
“The Simpsons” lost more than half the 18-49 audience from last year’s premiere, and down half a point from last year’s first episode without a partial NFL doubleheader lead-in. After the offseason contract drama, could Season 28 prove to, finally, be the last one?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine FOX #5 Prob. Renew
Sun 8:30 Season 3 Eps: 46 Last: 1.5 Raw: 1.5 Adj.: 1.5 RawIdx: .73 Index: .73 Prod: NBCU
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” started its fast-track season down over a full point from last year’s premiere. The numbers are better than they look, though, and it was only down a tenth from last year’s first episode in an NFL singleheader week.
Family Guy FOX #5 On Bubble
Sun 9:00 Season 14 Eps: 250 Last: 1.5 Raw: 1.5 Adj.: 1.5 RawIdx: .73 Index: .73 Prod: Fox
“The Simpsons” is already renewed for next season, and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is on the fast-track so it might as well be, though this is the network that dumped “The Mindy Project” last year. “Family Guy” is thus the most worrying of Fox’s 1.5’s from Sunday. It finished down four tenths from last year’s first episode that wasn’t a crossover with “The Simpsons”, and up only two tenths from last year’s finale, one of the lowest rated episodes of the season. The numbers are better than they look, and “Family Guy” will get better ratings in NFL doubleheader weeks, but it had better hope this isn’t the highest non-NFL-inflated numbers it does all season.
The Last Man on Earth FOX #8 On Bubble
Sun 9:30 Season 2 Eps: 14 Last: 1.4 Raw: 1.4 Adj.: 1.4 RawIdx: .68 Index: .68 Prod: Fox
“The Last Man on Earth” pretty much picked up where it left off last year, which means it may not be done leaking viewers. Will getting ratings inflated by NFL doubleheaders in future weeks be enough to stanch the bleeding?
Blood and Oil ABC #12 Prob. Canned
Sun 9:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 1.4 Raw: 1.4 Adj.: 1.4 RawIdx: .65 Index: .65 Prod: ABC
ABC was probably expecting “Once Upon a Time” to provide a higher-quality lead-in for “Blood and Oil”, but that doesn’t explain the stronger performance “Quantico” put up. If “Blood and Oil” doesn’t improve over the course of the season it will be one and done.
The Mysteries of Laura NBC #4 Prob. Canned
Wed 8:00 Season 2 Eps: 23/35 Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .65 Index: .65 Prod: WB
The good news is that “The Mysteries of Laura” drew ratings comparable to what it was getting back in November of last year. The bad news is that the show’s ratings were iffy even then, it ended up escaping cancellation by the skin of its teeth, and the numbers will almost certainly decline from here. The show’s actors may want to start updating their resumes.
The Player NBC #4 Prob. Canned
Thu 10:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .65 Index: .65 Prod: Sony
It’s not time to panic for “The Player” yet. The show will get “The Blacklist” as its lead-in starting this week, and while “Heroes Reborn” actually premiered to better numbers than “The Blacklist” was getting in its post-Super Bowl run, “The Blacklist”‘s viewer base should be more compatible. But the show doesn’t have a whole lot of margin for error to slip much further than where it’s already at, especially for a rookie. The show could easily end up off the schedule by midseason if it’s not careful and if NBC’s other premieres do better.
Blue Bloods CBS #7 On Bubble
Fri 10:00 Season 6 Eps: 112/133 Last: 1.3 Raw: 1.3 Adj.: 1.3 RawIdx: .61 Index: .61 Prod: CBS
The “Blue Bloods” premiere improved a tick over last year, more in line with how it did over the latter portion of last season, and while its index number is only good enough to place it on the bubble for now, that’s partly because CBS’ network average is inflated by the lack of the typically-underperforming Sunday shows. Especially with syndication on its side, “Blue Bloods” can feel reasonably confident about its chances for renewal.
Bob’s Burgers FOX #9 Prob. Canned
Sun 7:30 Season 6 Eps: 89/110 Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .58 Index: .58 Prod: Fox
On a mediocre night for Fox’s Sunday lineup, “Bob’s Burgers” was the biggest underperformer, finishing two-tenths down from last year’s season premiere. Realistically things probably look better for “Bob’s Burgers” than the numbers suggest, though.
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS #8 Prob. Canned
Mon 10:00 Season 7 Eps: 145/168 Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .57 Index: .57 Prod: CBS
Uh-oh. Better hope “NCIS: Los Angeles” only lost a full point off of “Scorpion” because of the hype NBC put towards “Blindspot”, because even though CBS’ index numbers are likely to improve once the Sunday shows premiere, these numbers aren’t going to cut it. “NCIS: LA” never did worse than a 1.4 all last season, so if “Blindspot” proves to be a consistent performer for NBC beyond what “The Blacklist” did in the post-“Voice” time slot and this proves to be more than an abberation, CBS may want to consider moving the show, perhaps to cover for a rookie flop.
Castle ABC #13 Prob. Canned
Mon 10:00 Season 8 Eps: 152/173 Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .56 Index: .56 Prod: ABC
As with “NCIS: LA”, “Castle” had better hope its underwhelming premiere ratings, down a tenth from last year’s low, are an abberation caused by NBC’s heavy promotion of “Blindspot”. ABC is less likely to move “Castle” to cover for a rookie flop because it doesn’t want to lose its “Dancing with the Stars” lead-in, but their fear is that may not amount to much this year.
Nashville ABC #13 Prob. Canned
Wed 10:00 Season 4 Eps: 66 Last: 1.2 Raw: 1.2 Adj.: 1.2 RawIdx: .56 Index: .56 Prod: ABC
Last year “Nashville” benefitted from the syndication fast track and as a result was renewed with ratings that made it more deserving of the bubble. This year it will once again have to stand and fall on its own merits, and a premiere with ratings the show only fell to three times last season is not the way to start, especially given the strength of its comedy lead-ins. Will ABC cancel the show after airing just enough episodes to get it over the syndication hump?
Minority Report FOX #10 Prob. Canned
Mon 9:00 Season 1 Eps: 1/13? Last: 1.1 Raw: 1.1 Adj.: 1.1 RawIdx: .53 Index: .53 Prod: Fox
The premiere of “Minority Report” lost a full half-point off its “Gotham” lead-in, and even in a week where most of Fox’s shows that weren’t “Empire” or “Rosewood” underperformed, “Minority Report” had the ignominity of being the lowest-rated show on the network. All things considered, I really should be declaring it a complete flop. But if “Empire” is factored out of Fox’s rating average “Minority Report” is actually good enough to only be on the bubble, though that says more about Fox’s other non-“Empire” shows than “Minority Report”.
Last Man Standing ABC #15 On Bubble
Fri 8:00 Season 5 Eps: 87 Last: 1.1 Raw: 1.1 Adj.: 1.1 RawIdx: .51 Index: .51 Prod: Fox
“Last Man Standing” slipped by two-tenths from last year’s hour-long premiere and did numbers on par with last year’s finale, the lowest-rated episode of the season. The show can’t afford for that to be a pattern – even for Friday that’s only good enough to make it to the bubble at best, and not the right side of it.
Hawaii Five-O CBS #9 Prob. Canned
Fri 9:00 Season 6 Eps: 119/143 Last: 1.0 Raw: 1.0 Adj.: 1.0 RawIdx: .47 Index: .47 Prod: CBS
Even for Friday, “Hawaii Five-O”‘s ratings were probably bad enough to be cancelled last year, but they never fell below 1.1. That the premiere of the sixth season falls below that to 1.0 is not a good sign for its long-term prospects. Syndication economics are probably playing a big role in keeping the show alive, but if “Hawaii Five-O” spends this season below a full rating point, at what point does CBS decide the black hole on their schedule isn’t worth it?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC #? Prem: 9/29
Tue 9:00 Season 3 Eps: 44/66 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: ABC
Last year, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” debuted to a 2.1 rating and settled into the 1.7-1.5 range, slightly declining as the season went along but mostly correcting the problems that dogged it in its debut season. It could improve this year, as last year its lead-ins, “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story”, were two of the bigger flops of the year, and if “The Muppets” continues to be a success “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” may have much less of a need to stand and fall on its own. Not that it matters, as this is its syndication fast-track season.
Grandfathered FOX #? Prem: 9/29
Tue 8:00 Season 1 Eps: 0/13? Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: ABC*
Fox may have accidentially thrown “Grandfathered” to the wolves. Going up against “NCIS” and “The Voice” is bad enough, but if ABC has found a source of potential stability in its Tuesday lineup with “The Muppets” it could be very difficult for “Grandfathered” to stand out, at least among the broadcast networks. It may not take that much for a new Fox show to stand out, but it’ll still be an uphill climb.
The Grinder FOX #? Prem: 9/29
Tue 8:30 Season 1 Eps: 0/13? Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: Fox
“The Grinder” faces a somewhat different challenge and epitomizes the risk Fox is taking with its all-new Tuesday lineup. If “Scream Queens” isn’t the tentpole Fox was hoping and “Grandfathered” wilts at the start of the night against formidable competition, that could suck away everything “The Grinder” had going for it. “The Grinder” may have an even taller task ahead of it even with weaker competition on ABC.
Criminal Minds CBS #? Prem: 9/30
Wed 9:00 Season 11 Eps: 233/255 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A P: ABC/CBS
Last year “Criminal Minds” debuted to a 2.7 but slipped from a 2.3 to a 2.1 over the course of the season, with the last two episodes drawing 1.8s. It might not be able to simply pick up where it left off, but unfortunately, it’ll now be going up against “Empire” a full 18 weeks of the season.
Code Black CBS #? Prem: 9/30
Wed 10:00 Season 1 Eps: 0/13? Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A P: ABC/CBS
A weak “Criminal Minds” lead-in would not be good news for “Code Black”, which needs to take full advantage of “Nashville” potentially entering its death throes in the time slot. Unfortunately “Chicago PD” is a much more direct competitor for its viewers and one of NBC’s stronger performers.
Chicago PD NBC #? Prem: 9/30
Wed 10:00 Season 3 Eps: 38/60 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: NBCU
This should be a syndication fast-track season for “Chicago P.D.”, although it will finish the season with only 60 episodes, needing a bit more than a full season to hit the magic number of 88. Last year “Chicago P.D.” premiered to a 1.9 and hovered around 1.5 all season, which might be enough for renewal in its own right anyway.
Bones FOX #? Prem: 10/1
Thu 8:00 Season 11 Eps: 212 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: Fox
“Bones” had some of its lowest ratings ever last year, hovering around the low 1s for much of the season, but it is produced by Fox and already has syndication contracts lined up so everyone jumped on board for another season. Whether or not it can continue to survive if the ratings keep falling is another matter.
Sleepy Hollow FOX #? Prem: 10/1
Thu 9:00 Season 3 Eps: 31/49 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: Fox
As explained in the intro, “Sleepy Hollow” is not a syndication fast-track show despite being in its third season because it typically has shorter seasons than other shows. Last year it premiered to a 2.0 and slid from a 1.7 to a 1.5 over the course of the season. Based on early returns, if it hits the higher end of that range it’ll be one of Fox’s strongest non-Wednesday shows.
The Blacklist NBC #? Prem: 10/1
Thu 9:00 Season 3 Eps: 44/66 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A P: Sony/Unv.
Unlike “Sleepy Hollow”, “The Blacklist” is on the syndication fast-track this season, although that would seem to be mostly a formality given how big it’s been for NBC the past two years. There is some cause for concern in how much the ratings fell off after the Super Bowl last year, never climbing higher than a 1.9 after the second part of the Super Bowl episode, but even if the ratings are in the 1.5-1.6 range that would still be enough for renewal in its own right on NBC, and last year only the second- and third-to-last episodes fell below 1.5.
Dr. Ken ABC #? Prem: 10/2
Fri 8:30 Season 1 Eps: 0/13? Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: Sony*
With “Last Man Standing” in serious jeopardy of cancellation, it makes the decision to slot “Dr. Ken” in after it on Fridays look like even less of a vote of confidence. Ken Jeong’s name has brand value and the 8 PM hour is probably the weakest of the night, but if form holds “Dr. Ken” will have to actually improve on its lead-in in order to survive.
Madam Secretary CBS #? Prem: 10/4
Sun ≥8p Season 2 Eps: 22/44 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: CBS
“Madam Secretary” escaped cancellation by the skin of its teeth last season; it premiered to a 2.0 and hovered around the 1.4-1.6 range at first, but slipped to 1.1-1.4 in the latter part of the season. Even the better part of that range is only good enough to put it on the bubble.
The Good Wife CBS #? Prem: 10/4
Sun ≥9p Season 7 Eps: 134/156 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: CBS
Last year “The Good Wife” did 1.4s and 1.3s during football season and almost constant 1.0s in March and April. Of course CBS has proven time and again that 18-49 ratings aren’t its first priority with “The Good Wife”, but it is worth noting that those are cancel-worthy numbers for a first- or second-season show.
CSI: Cyber CBS #? Prem: 10/4
Sun ≥10p Season 2 Eps: 13/35 Last: N/A Raw: N/A Adj.: N/A RawIdx: N/A Index: N/A Prod: CBS
“CSI: Cyber” has a decidedly uphill task ahead of it. Without even a full season under its belt it finds itself the last surviving “CSI” show, it was far from a sure thing to get renewed to begin with, and now it’s placed on Sundays where it’ll be bounced around the schedule, or considering it’s at 10 pre-empted entirely, by NFL football. When the decision was made to renew it its ratings had hovered in the 1.4-1.5 range, but its last five episodes drew 1.2s, which might have been grounds for instant cancellation had the decision not have probably already been made. I expect its ratings to return to the higher end of that range with help from the NFL, but I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t last beyond this season.

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