What veteran shows need to worry about cancellation?

Many series already have received a thumbs up for next season. A few others have been told the end is here. But many shows remain on the cancellation bubble.

How might things shake out for a few vets still awaiting word? Ratings data is courtesy of TV By the Numbers.

Cancellation Watch: ABC

ABC broke with its past practice and recently handed out early renewals to all the most obvious candidates. Notably absent were two veteran dramas.

Both Castle (Season 8) and Nashville (Season 4) have hit or exceeded the number of episodes needed for syndication and have a deal in place. Each is getting more expensive. Creatively, they’re slowing down. And each saw its already modest demographic numbers take a big hit in the fall.

But while each has been on a mid-season hiatus, the median for ABC’s scripted performance has come down quite a bit. Neither is as far from the demographic average as it was before. ABC has struggled to launch new shows in the 10 o’clock hour. Their numbers aren’t great, but might be slightly better than what ABC could score with new options.

New seasons might help ABC navigate the fall season under its new President. But don’t be surprised if both shows get the ax.

Cancellation Watch: FOX

FOX’s ongoing difficulty in launching new comedies remains an issue. With slightly better numbers, established shows like New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth, plus unkillable animated vets The Simpsons and Family Guy, likely come back as the network’s comedy base. FOX may well kill off all of its freshman comedies, which have languished with weak numbers.

On the drama side, second tier dramas like Rosewood and Lucifer have seen promising numbers drop without higher profile schedule partners. But FOX has a lot of real estate to fill next year, giving each show a decent chance at a second season.

Among veteran dramas, Gotham has improved in terms of quality in its second year, but has drifted downward in the ratings. Still, its numbers are decent enough, relatively speaking, to get it to Season 3. The big question mark is Sleepy Hollow. After three shorter seasons, it’s still a long way from the syndication threshold. Its numbers collapsed in its Thursday night slot. Its ratings since moving to Fridays haven’t been great, but have also held fairly steady. The show is at risk, but FOX needs something to plug into Fridays next season, so don’t be shocked if Sleepy snags one more season while FOX sorts out its post-American Idol course.

Cancellation Watch: CBS

If executive chatter can be believed, CBS is leaning toward renewing most of its freshman class, marginal ratings being the new normal. The network’s public vote of confidence bodes well for sophomore drama Madame Secretary and other series (NCIS: New Orleans, Mom and Scorpion) seem like no-brainer renewals.

A handful of veterans are on more precarious ground. Friday drama Blue Bloods has been the net’s best performer on a challenging night and has held fairly steady, bringing its demographic performance closer to the network average. Another season seems pretty likely. Lead-in Hawaii Five-O has struggled more. Its early season numbers were dreadful, but perked up a bit at mid-season. More recent outings have drifted down again. The location production remains expensive and grumbling from some cast members ready to move back to the mainland hasn’t gone away. It’s the toughest call on CBS’s schedule.

Also thorny is Elementary. Its ratings nose-dived last year, but syndication realities secured it a Season 4. Numbers didn’t improve this year, but have been fairly consistent in a tough Thursday night slot. CBS is dispatching it to Sundays for the spring. If its numbers hold, it could scrape up another renewal. Wild card drama Person of Interest still doesn’t have a start date for Season 5. A late April/May premiere is very late for a veteran show and indicates CBS intends to run most of its episodes in the summer. Whether that’s a new lease on life or a final burn-off remains to be seen.

On the comedy side, the question mark is 2 Broke Girls (Season 5). It’s no one’s favorite show and overall numbers are down, but still hovering around the network’s demographic median. It’s been fairly consistent wherever CBS has plugged it in. But CBS just pulled the plug on the similarly situated Mike & Molly. Of course, that series was complicated by the reality that the red hot movie career of star Melissa McCarthy was going to make her difficult and/or expensive to keep and there’s no show without her. Broke Girls seems like the kind of reasonably-priced utility player that networks don’t mind having on hand. Expect at least one more season.

Cancellation Watch: NBC

NBC’s tough calls also come down to two dramas.

Grimm (Season 5) has been a Friday night staple. With more modest ratings targets, it’s done fairly well and been a solid performer in “platform” viewing (OnDemand, DVR, etc.). Ratings have drifted downward and even though NBC’s overall scripted median has done the same, the network might wonder if there’s much upside left in the series. It’s got the episode count for syndication and fan engagement seems to have cooled. It’s probably NBC’s hardest decision.

The Mysteries of Laura (Season 2) has never been a ratings monster, but has chugged along fairly consistently in its Wednesday slot. That might be its salvation. While other shows have been erratic, Laura has delivered its small-but-dedicated audience week after week. And while its demographics aren’t impressive, the show is believed to do well in higher income households. Laura gives NBC something to balance out its male-skewing procedurals. It’s a tough call, but a renewal wouldn’t be a shock.

Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on March 16, 2016.

Author (Grievous Angels) and pop culture gadabout #amwriting

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