Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: Arrow is Sure to Get Renewed, Agents of SHIELD is On the Bubble, Forever is Likely to Get Cancelled

By | October 13, 2014


We are a few weeks into the Fall season and it has already been a wild one.  FOX’s Gotham debuted strong, ABC’s Once Upon A Time had a surprising reurgence for its fourth season while that network’s Agents of SHIELD is sinking fast.  And then there was that debut of The Flash for The CW which may single handedly help revive the fifth place network.  And now its time to factor all of that into the Power Rankings.  Note that it is still early in the season, though, and things can change notably in as little as a month.  Gotham‘s ratings have been dropping and they could slip to cancel-able levels.  Agents of SHIELD could turn things around and make a run for a third season renewal.  It’s really hard to make solid predictions on where these shows will stand by the end of the season, but I can at least tell you how they are tracking now.

For these edition of the Power Rankings and going forward, I have added a new category titled Renewal Possible which will fall between Likely to Get Renewed and On the Bubble.  This will grab some of the shows that are doing fair to midlin in the ratings, but either there’s not enough data on them yet or its just too soon to make a solid call on them yet.  Among the shows that will be falling into that category in this set of rankings are Sleepy Hollow, Resurrection, and two of the CW shows.  I expect these entries to move into more firm categories in the coming weeks, but that will act as a holding bucket for now.

And take note that Nielsen just announced on Friday that they discovered a technical glitch that has impacted all of the early Fall ratings numbers (bet somebody is in hot water over that!) and that they plan on issuing revised results later this week.  Once that is factored in, that could impact a few of the shows on these rankings and if necessary I will make some adjustments.

Note that these rankings only look at shows currently airing or those that are returning. New series that have aired one or less episodes will not make it into the rankings yet because I have to have some sort of a sampling to make a determination of their status (that said, I expect The Flash to enter as Sure to Get Renewed in the next edition of these rankings). And import shows like Syfy’s Lost Girl and Bitten or BBC America’s Doctor Who which are not as heavily impacted by their ratings in the States are not included here either. The rankings order the shows by those least likely to get cancelled to those most likely. The number in parenthesis is the show’s prior rank. Any non-cancelled show in its final season will be addressed separately at the bottom. You can see the full schedule for the Fall shows at this link.

Cancellation Alert statuses from least likely to be cancelled to most likely: Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High

Renewed or Sure to Get Renewed:

1 (1) The Walking Dead (AMC) – This one got the sixth season renewal notice before its fifth season even began, but then that’s not a big surprise.  The show is a ratings juggernaut and looks to stay that way for a while.  Expect it to go out on its own terms rather than ever face cancellation.
Prior Season Rating: 6.8 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Strong Ratings, Ratings Increase Year over Year, Strong Social Network Presence

2 (2) Game of Thrones (HBO) – While it’s not quite at The Walking Dead levels, this series set new highs in its fourth season (surpassing The Sopranos as HBO’s most watched series ever) and also regularly beat out most programming on the broadcast networks. It  looks  poised for an extended stay in the upper rungs of this list.
Prior Season Rating: 3.7 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Strong Ratings, Ratings Increase Year over Year, Strong Social Network Presence

american-horror-story-freak-show3 (3) American Horror Story (FX) – This series has not reached TWD or GoT levels, but its numbers have grown each year and it set another ratings record with its fourth season debut.  Even if it were to take an unexpected plunge in the ratings, its anthology format gives it the possibility to rebound each year.  I expect this one to remain a mainstay on these charts for a few more years, and expect a fifth season renewal announcement any day.
StD Rating: 3.1 | Prior Season Rating: 2.2 | Curr Season Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Strong Ratings, Ratings Increase Year over Year, Strong Social Network Presence

4 (4) Teen Wolf (MTV) – I have this one here because I am assuming the first part of its fifth season will start airing in January like it did last year with the second half of its third.  And MTV should definitely plan on getting it on the early 2015 schedule because it had its best ratings performance during the Winter months followed by a drop-off in the Summer.  In any case, it continues to perform well for its network and likely has a few more seasons ahead of it.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Ratings Increase Year over Year, Relative Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Ratings Drop in Summer 2014

5 (n/a) Star Wars: Rebels (Disney XD) – The renewal was never really in question for this one as it is more about keeping the franchise going and selling Star Wars products.  Consider it likely to stick around as long as Disney wants to keep cranking out episodes.
StD Rating: 0.6 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Recognized Franchise, Good Debut Ratings

6 (5) Arrow (CW) – This is the one broadcast network series almost guaranteed to get a renewal this season.  For one, it’s a third season season series meaning that a fourth year will get it to the episode count that the syndication market prefers to see.  Also, it airs on the fifth place network which has been known to renew shows even with lagging ratings.  Plus, with The Flash joining The CW’s lineup, Arrow is anchoring a DC multi-series lineup on television that could bring more spin-offs.  Even a ratings collapse (unlikely) may not doom Arrow based on The CW’s renewal of Beauty and the Beast last season.  So you can bank on it still being on the schedule for the 2015-16 season.
StD Rating: 1.0 | Prior Season Rating: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Third Season Series

7 (7) Supernatural (CW) – This show returned for its tenth season with good numbers for The CW and looks to deliver another solid season ratings-wise.  I guess this one will keep going as long as the show’s creative team can continue to find new (or recycle old) stories for the Winchester brothers, and any decision to end the show will likely be a planned one.  And an eleventh season simply pads out the syndication package that much more and also gets it the record as the longest running sci fi / fantasy show in the U.S. (current record holders are Stargate: SG-1 and Smallville, both at ten seasons).
StD Rating: 1.1 | Prior Season Rating: 1.0 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Consistent Performer

Likely to Get Renewed:

8 (8) Once Upon A Time (ABC) – Based on the ratings fluctuations from the last two seasons, I was thinking this show might be losing steam and might not have too much life ahead of it.  But the Season 4 Frozen crossover has returned the show to ratings highs and it looks like a contender again.  Consider it in good shape for now.
StD Rating: 3.5 | Prior Season Rating: 2.2 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Top 25 Based on Ratings, Ratings Improvement Year over Year

Syfy-Z-Nation-cancelled9 (n/a) Z Nation (Syfy) – It has averaged a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights–good for Syfy these days–and it is certainly an inexpensive series, so it likely counts as a hit for its network. It’s no Walking Dead ratings juggernaut, but Syfy will take what it can get.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Good Early Ratings, Low Production Costs.

10 (n/a) Gotham (FOX) – This series had a strong debut, but then echoed Recognized Franchise, with a downward slide. It hasn’t dropped that much, though, and it is still performing quite well for a FOX show. If it can level off the decline, then it should be okay.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 2.0 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Strong Early Ratings, Recognized Franchise, Top 25 Based on Ratings

11 (6) Person of Interest (CBS) – This ratings for this show have slipped again in its fourth season and its total viewers have dropped as well (though it is still a Top 20 entry based on that latter metric).  It’s probably still okay because it will cross the syndication threshold by the end of the current season and anything beyond that is gravy for its encore run.  But if it drops much more, CBS can be pretty ruthless with their under-perfoming shows.  Its relative ratings (how it compares next to the other CBS shows) will likely be key to getting a fifth season.
StD Rating: 1.7 | Prior Season Rating: 2.0 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: High Total Viewership, Top 25 Based on Viewership
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year

12 (9) Grimm (NBC) – This show dropped a few ticks in the ratings last year, but its third season show status helped it earn a fourth season.  If it does not drop too much more this year, then it should be safe simply because it plugs up a difficult timeslot on the schedule on low viewership Fridays.
Prior Season Rating: 1.4 | Curr Season Target: 1.2 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

13 (12) From Dusk Till Dawn (El Rey) – It didn’t made a dent in the cable ratings during its first season, but it was on a new network that was more concerned about establishing its brand than waving Nielsen numbers around. This season they may expect better ratings, but I am guessing that El Rey will show some patience and prop it up for a third season run.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.2 | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Low Ratings Expectations, New Network

Renewal Possible:

vampire-diaries-cancelled14 (11) Vampire Diaries (CW) – This show has definitely slipped in its sixth season and the The CW is now in danger of losing any foothold on Thursdays where they once performed well.  Still, its number aren’t disastrous yet and at worst it could still earn a shortened seventh season to wrap up all its storylines because that’s the way The CW usually rolls.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Prior Season Rating: 1.0 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

15 (13) The Originals (CW) – This show pulled a 0.7 rating on its first Monday out, which at first may not seem like much, but those are actually the best numbers The CW has seen on that night for some time.  The scheduling shift may have worked for them in this case.
StD Rating: 0.7 | Prior Season Rating: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series

16 (14) Resurrection (ABC) – This show hasn’t delivered spectacular numbers in its second season, but they have been good enough thus far.  It has to avoid slipping much more, but for right now it looks okay.
StD Rating: 2.3 | Prior Season Rating: 2.5 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings
Cons: Ratings Decline in Season

17 (15) Sleepy Hollow (FOX) – This show’s numbers are definitely down in its second season, but FOX in general has been struggling since last season.  Based on the relative numbers, it looks okay for now.  And The Following received a renewal last season after posting similar ratings.  But Sleepy Hollow doesn’t have much leeway at the moment.
StD Rating: 1.8 | Prior Season Rating: 2.6 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings
Cons: Ratings Decline in Season

On the Bubble:

agents-of-shield-s2-cancelled18 (16) Agents of SHIELD (ABC) – The ratings slide from last season continues and I’m considering this one in trouble for now.  Based on the Live+3 ratings it is still in the Top 25, but does that really hold weight when the sponsors know that DVR viewers are forwarding through the commercials?  It’s tied into the Avengers franchise which helps its, but it’s a costly show and needs a bigger audience to pull in higher add rates.  Disney may prop it up for a while, but they have an eye on that bottom line and likely won’t let it get too far into the red.
StD Rating: 1.9 | Prior Season Rating: 2.4 | Curr Season Target: 2.2 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: Recognized Franchise
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Decline in Season, High Production Costs

19 (17) The 100 (CW) – It got the renewal nod last season despite pretty tepid numbers.  I believe it will need to improve its scores this year otherwise The CW will replace it with one of several shows they have waiting in the wings.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.6 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: Decent Debut Ratings, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series
Cons: Ratings Declines in Season

20 (18) Helix (Syfy, Returning for a 2nd Season) – It got the second season renewal last year, but that was far from a sure thing. The fact that it fits in with Syfy’s move back to more science fiction oriented scripted programming probably helped it, and its ratings average was about the same as what Haven had in the Fall before that one got renewed. But I am thinking that Helix will have to build on its current numbers when it returns if it hopes to live beyond its second year.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.4 | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: Strong Early Buzz
Cons: Mediocre Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

21 (10) Haven (Syfy) – This show has pulled all-time lows in its fifth season, dropping as low as a 0.2 rating in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights.  The Thursday night scheduling may have been a factor, but Syfy did it no favors by then shifting it to 7 PM EST on Fridays, outside of the traditional Prime Time hours.  I’m not sure if this amounts to a burn-off run and the second half of its planned 26 episode fifth season may be in doubt at this point.
StD Rating: 0.2 | Prior Season Rating: 0.4 | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Low Production Costs, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Low Ratings, Ratings Decline Year over Year

Likely to Get Cancelled:

22 (n/a) Forever (ABC) – This Freshman series debuted with decent, if not spectacular, ratings for its timeslot. But those dropped quickly and now it finds itself in trouble. At this point it looks likely that Forever will air out its initial thirteen episode order than fade into TV obscurity.
StD Rating: 1.5 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated
Pros: Decent Debut Ratings
Cons: Low Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

Unrankable:

Both of these shows were renewed last year despite a ratings performance that would have led to the cancellation of most other series (in fact, Hannibal pulled lower numbers than Dracula in the same timeslot yet the latter series was cancelled).  So other factors are apparently driving their fates and I will elect to pass on making any predictions on their renewal/cancellation prospects.

Hannibal (NBC, Returning for a 3rd Season) – It appears that NBC has made a long-term deal with this show’s studio and its international production arrangement means that it comes to the network at a lower cost. It sufficiently plugs up the difficult late Friday timeslot and the show has plenty of good buzz from the critics, so maybe it will coast through that seven year run that showrunner Bryan Fuller envisions.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: No Guess
Pros: Recognized Franchise, Strong Social Network Presence, Good Buzz from Critics
Cons: Poor Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

Beauty and the Beast (CW, Returning for a 3rd Season) – Is its international audience really that good? Is it the CBS/WB balance of shows theory that the TV by the Numbers guys have theorized? Or do the execs at The CW just not give a damn and want to thumb their noses at the old-school model of renewing and cancelling television shows (if so, you have to give them props for that at least). All I know is that fans of The Tomorrow People, Star-Crossed, The Secret Circle, Cult, and other cancelled CW shows would like to have words with those network executives.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.3 | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: No Guess
Pros: Recognized Franchise? Good International Audience?
Cons: Abysmal Ratings

Last Season’s Sci Fi / Fantasy Shows on Blu-ray and DVD:

 

One thought on “Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: Arrow is Sure to Get Renewed, Agents of SHIELD is On the Bubble, Forever is Likely to Get Cancelled

  1. Patricia Hampton

    Now that Neilson has copped to bad numbers The CW needs to reinstate Star-Crossed, which does have a very strong international following. It’s airing now in the Middle East and they love it. More hearts are breaking around the world as they learn that Star-Crossed isn’t coming back.

    Between Star-Crossed and The Flash, maybe Mark Pedowitz could bring the flailing network back.

    Reply

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