Cancellation Watch: The Walking Dead Gets Renewed, The Flash Brings Ratings Thunder to The CW, Agents of SHIELD Is Sinking

By | October 8, 2014

Unless otherwise noted, the ratings numbers below are based on the final overnights and may vary slightly from the preliminaries reported on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site.

the-walking-dead-season-5Renewal Announcement:  Coming as no surprise, AMC announced yesterday that The Walking Dead would be returning for a sixth season.  You’d have thought that maybe they would have held us in suspense for at least a day or two after the Season 5 premiere (Sunday, October 12th), but they decided to go ahead and use that rubberstamp now.  TWD has been the top rated scripted series across the broadcast and cable nets that last few seasons (and currently commands the third highest add rates), and even if the show slips some in its coming season (no reason to expect that, though), it will likely still be well above its closest competition.  That series can pretty much write its own ticket for now and I expect it to go out on its own terms rather than face cancellation

Series Debut:  The CW’s The Flash was definitely one of the more anticipated genre shows on this Fall’s schedule, but its debut numbers went far and above expectations as it pulled a 1.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic with 4.5 million total viewers (based on the preliminaries).  That was the best debut of a series on The CW since Vampire Diaries bowed in 2009 and just about the highest ratings period that network has seen since about that time.  I should note that last year Agents of SHIELD debuted to monster numbers and a few weeks ago Gotham had a strong bow, yet both shows have seen their ratings drop notably (with Agents of SHIELD now in big trouble, more on that below).  So these comic book series tend to draw large numbers of curious onlookers who do not necessarily stick around.  But then Arrow debuted well for The CW two seasons ago and has sustained its relative audience (factoring in the ratings slump all of the broadcast networks have experienced), and The Flash would still be looking good on the fifth place network with half its premiere numbers.  So consider it in good shape right now.  The CW also received good news from another debut this week as The Originals pulled a 0.7 rating with 1.4 million total viewers for its Season 2 bow.  Those numbers might seem like light years from what The Flash had, but that’s actually some of the best ratings The CW has had on a Monday in quite a while and an indication that the audience for the Vampire Diaries spin-off is sticking with it into its second year.  If this show can stay at or around that level–modest as it is–then The CW would likely be ecstatic.  And there was one more series debut of note: on Friday, Star Wars: Rebels had its bow and pulled a 0.6 rating with 2.7 million total viewers (enough to land it in the Cable Top 25 for the week based on total viewers).  Those are decent numbers for Disney and it will probably pull similar ratings when it moves to its regular Monday timeslot starting on October 13th.

On the Hot Seat:  ABC’s Agents of SHIELD slipped to a series low of a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo with 4.4 million total viewers on Tuesday (based on the preliminaries).  If the ratings drop wasn’t bad enough, it had the additional slap in the face of coming in behind the fifth place network’s The Flash as that one beat it in the ratings and in total viewers for the night.  Agents of SHIELD arrived last season as an anticipated mega-hit (and it looked like it might live up to that billing early on), but now it finds itself on life support.  I am not raising the Cancellation Alert higher than Moderate just yet, though.  Disney may keep it alive for now because of its connection to the multi-billion dollar Avengers franchise. But this show can’t recoup its rather hefty production costs with ratings at this level, so it needs to turn things around soon (and you can weigh in with your suggestions on how it can course correct at this link).  Also struggling on ABC is freshman series Forever.  That one slipped to a 1.3 rating with 5.1 million total viewers (based on the preliminaries) this week and appears surely headed for cancellation at this point.  I’ll give it one more week before I raise it above the Medium Cancellation Alert level it is at now, but I believe the chances of it turning around its numbers at this point are very slim.

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Following are the full ratings results (metric definitions below) for the Friday thru Tuesday shows with my comments. And keep an eye on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the latest numbers and any breaking news.  For more information on where I get these numbers and how I make my Cancellation Alert assessments, check out the Cancelled Sci Fi FAQ.

Star Wars: Rebels Disney Fri 10/3 9 PM
Rating: 0.6 | Tot Viewers: 2.7 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Low

A decent debut for this series, but Disney is concerned less about the ratings and more about keeping the franchise going and the merchandising revenue coming in.

Z Nation Syfy Fri 10/3 10 PM
Rating: 0.5 | Tot Viewers: 1.6 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Low

When you compare the low production costs for this show to its ratings, then this has to count as a hit for Syfy. It’s been a while since they have had one of those.

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 10/5 8 PM
Rating: 3.3 | Tot Viewers: 9.2 | StD Rating: 3.5 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped from last week’s debut numbers, but that was expected. It is still at the highest level it has seen in several years.

Witches of East End LIFE Sun 10/5 9 PM
Rating: 0.5 | Tot Viewers: 1.1 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show pulled decent numbers for its Season 2 finale and now fans are in waiting mode to hear if a third year is on the way. I would say the chances are pretty good.

Resurrection ABC Sun 10/5 9 PM
Rating: 2.0 | Tot Viewers: 6.7 | StD Rating: 2.3 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped notably (half a ratings point) with its second Season 2 episode. But if it can hold here then it should be okay. If it falls much lower, then it could find itself approaching Bubble status.

The Strain FX Sun 10/5 10 PM
Rating: 1.0 | Tot Viewers: 2.1 | StD Rating: 1.0 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This series wrapped up its first season with decent enough ratings. But does it have the staying power to hold onto those numbers in its second year?

The Originals CW Mon 10/6 8 PM
Rating: 0.7 | Tot Viewers: 1.4 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

That 0.7 rating may not look like much, but The CW could barely muster a 0.4 score out of any show on Mondays last year. If The Originals stays at or above a 0.5 rating through the season, then I think it may be in line for a renewal.

Gotham FOX Mon 10/6 8 PM
Rating: 2.5 | Tot Viewers: 6.4 | StD Rating: 2.8 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped again, echoing the trend we saw last year with Agents of SHIELD. But on FOX these days, anything above a 2.0 rating is considered pretty darn good. I’m sure they would prefer if this one would level out, though.

Sleepy Hollow FOX Mon 10/6 9 PM
Rating: 1.7 | Tot Viewers: 4.5 | StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low

Sleepy Hollow sunk to a new series low, but The Following had similar numbers last season and still received a renewal. Where this one stands in the relative ratings for FOX will be key to its survival.

The Flash CW Tue 10/7 8 PM
Rating: 1.8 | Tot Viewers: 4.5 | StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Low

(Numbers based on the preliminaries) The CW execs were likely dancing in the streets this morning when these ratings results rolled out. Last week I was ready to write this network off, but now they are showing new life.

Agents of SHIELD ABC Tue 10/7 9 PM
Rating: 1.6 | Tot Viewers: 4.4 | StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 2.2 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

(Numbers based on the preliminaries) What happened to this show? Why has it fallen so far? Chime in with your thoughts at our Sci Fi TV Pulse poll.

Supernatural CW Tue 10/7 9 PM
Rating: 1.2 | Tot Viewers: 2.8 | StD Rating: 1.2 | Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Low

(Numbers based on the preliminaries) This series debuted even with last year and looks like it will continue to be a reliable entry for The CW. Do I hear a Season 11 in the works?

Forever ABC Tue 10/7 10 PM
Rating: 1.3 | Tot Viewers: 5.1 | StD Rating: 1.5 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

(Numbers based on the preliminaries) This one is fading fast, and as a rookie series it has little clout. If it sinks much lower, it could get booted to a Friday or Saturday burn-off run.

Person of Interest CBS Tue 10/7 10 PM
Rating: 1.6 | Tot Viewers: 9.8 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

(Numbers based on the preliminaries) This show hit a series low, but it’s in its fourth season so it’s assured a syndication run and anything beyond this year is gravy for that. I think it’s still okay for now.

Metric Definitions:

Rating: Overnight rating in the 18-49 demographic for same day viewing based on the final numbers unless otherwise noted

Tot Viewers: Estimated total viewers to tune in to the episode for same day viewing

StD Rating: Season to date average for the rating metric tracked above.

Target: The estimated average rating that the show needs to sustain to get renewed.

Cancellation Alert: My prediction of the likelihood that a show will get cancelled. From least to most likely the statuses are Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, and High.

Ratings Source: TV by the Numbers and ShowBuzzDaily

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2014 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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