Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: The Last Man on Earth Starts as Likely to Get Renewed, Dig and The Returned Start On the Bubble

By | March 18, 2015

[Updated for the Sleepy Hollow renewal announcement]

last-man-on-earth-fox-cancelledQuite a lot has happened since last month’s set of Power Rankings.  Syfy cancelled Ascension (or chose not to continue it, if you prefer) but they also renewed their low-rated entry 12 Monkeys.  Four shows have debuted in March–FOX’s The Last Man on Earth, USA’s Dig, A&E’s The Returned, and The CW’s iZombie–though none count as hits (and that last one misses this list because it has only aired one episode so far).  Meanwhile, the expected mid-season ratings slump has set in and hit the Big Four broadcast networks pretty hard (The CW has gone mostly unscathed, though).  Looking at the entries further down on the list, it’s possible that those broadcast nets could be facing a Sci Fi-pocalypse by the end of the season.  The only show on those channels that currently looks like a lock for renewal is ABC’s Once Upon A Time.  Beyond that, almost everything is vulnerable, though I expect The Last Man on Earth (if it levels off) and Person of Interest to survive.  And ABC could be hit particularly hard and could lose five of its six genre entries.  Note that I have dropped From Dusk Till Dawn The Series from the list because it now looks like that one will not have its second season debut until Summer or later.  I will run one more set of Power Rankings next month which will have my final predictions for the season and we should see how all that pans out as the network’s solidify their schedules for the 2015-16 season by early May.  In the mean time, on to this month’s set of rankings.

Note that these rankings only look at shows currently airing or those that are returning at some point this season. 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. And import shows like Syfy’s Bitten or BBC America’s Atlantis which are not as heavily (or not at all) impacted by their ratings in the States are not included here either. Also, I am not including the shows on the streaming services like Play Station Net’s Powers or Netflix’s upcoming Daredevil, because I don’t have any numbers to gauge them by.  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) – It’s numbers dipped a bit after its mid-season return, but since then it has gone back up as it continues to have its strongest year yet ratings-wise. And seeing that it is currently so far ahead of any other scripted show on television, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
StD Rating: 7.3 | Prior Season Rating: 6.8 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Strong Ratings, Ratings Increase Year over Year, Strong Social Network Presence

game-of-thrones-season-52 (2) Game of Thrones (HBO) – This show returns in just a few weeks and I expect it to continue to perform well in the ratings as 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: Renewed, Strong Ratings, Ratings Increase Year over Year, Strong Social Network Presence

3 (3) American Horror Story (FX) – This show’s fourth season started strong but then slipped to the lowest numbers it has seen since its first season.  They’re still not bad for a basic cable series, but the show may have pushed its over-the-top horror a bit too far this year.  That’s not a problem, though, because it already has its fifth season renewal in the bag and it resets at that point.
StD Rating: 1.9 | Prior Season Rating: 2.2 | Curr Season Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Good Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Ratings Declines in Season, Ratings Declines Year Over Year

4 (4) Outlander (Starz) – By its network’s standards, this one counted as a major hit and started to develop a fair amount of buzz as the first half of its first season progressed.  I expect that to continue when it returns in just a few weeks for the latter half of its first year.
StD Rating: 0.3 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Ratings Increase in Season, Relative Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence

5 (5) 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: n/a | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Recognized Franchise, Good Debut Ratings

6 (6) The Flash (CW) – Despite the fact that most other shows on television have been hit by the ratings slump this mid-season, this show continues to pull strong numbers for the fifth place network.  And when its DVR numbers are factored in, it ranks up with some of the Big Four network entries, so it counts as a huge hit for The CW.
StD Rating: 1.5 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Strong Early Ratings, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Good DVR Gains

7 (7) Arrow (CW) – Like The Flash, this show has managed to thwart the ratings slump, so The CW now has another series (yet to be titled) featuring DC Characters (we know the Atom and Firestorm will be in it so far) headed to the schedule.  Let’s hope that doesn’t lead to superhero burnout, though.
StD Rating: 1.1 | Prior Season Rating: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Third Season Series

8 (8) Gotham (FOX) – This show turned around its mid-season decline just in time to get put on a second hiatus.  If it returns from that low, don’t worry too much about FOX changing their mind on the renewal, but it wouldn’t be a good thing for Gotham to end its first season on a low note ratings-wise.
StD Rating: 2.3 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Strong Early Ratings, Recognized Franchise, Top 25 Based on Ratings,  Full Season Pickup, Good DVR Gains

9 (9) Z Nation (Syfy) – The renewal for this show came as no surprise seeing as it is an inexpensive entry and has been pulling a decent ratings average for Syfy.  Meanwhile, the network has failed to see much ratings success with the more science fiction oriented entries like 12 MonkeysDefiance, or Helix.  Does this mean that Sharknado: The Series will shortly be in the works?
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Good Early Ratings, Low Production Costs.

10 (10) Supernatural (CW) – This show has definitely seen its ratings slip at mid-season, but it’s hard to gauge how much of that can be attributed to the current slump.  Still, there may be some franchise fatigue involved and perhaps it’s time to target its eleventh season as its last.
StD Rating: 0.9 | Prior Season Rating: 1.0 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Consistent Performer

11 (11) The Originals (CW) – This show hasn’t performed quite as well during the second half of the season, but it’s still doing better than anything the network has aired on Mondays in a while.  And next year it will be a third season show meaning that a fourth gets it to the episode count the syndication market prefers to see.  So expect it to coast along to at least one more season beyond its next.
StD Rating: 0.6 | Prior Season Rating: 0.9 | Curr Season Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Good DVR Gains

12 (12) The Librarians (TNT) – The renewal for this show came as no surprise even though its ratings dropped throughout its first season run.  It ranked in the Top 25 among cable shows based on total viewers for each week that it aired and that included the weeks it ran during low viewership December.  I’m sure TNT will be happy to slot this one into the December/January timeframe each year if it can hold at or near its current levels.
StD Rating: 0.9 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Good Debut Ratings, Top 25 Show Based on Total Viewers, Recognized Franchise
Cons: Ratings Decline in Season

13 (13) Grimm (NBC) – The renewal for this show was pretty much expected even though its numbers have dropped year over year.  We will have to see if that continues into next year, but if it doesn’t slip too much then it could be safe for a sixth season because it plugs up that difficult Friday 8 PM EST timeslot.
StD Rating: 1.2 | Prior Season Rating: 1.4 | Curr Season Target: 1.2 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

14 (14) Vampire Diaries (CW) – The numbers for this show continue to lag and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point they announce next season as its last.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Prior Season Rating: 1.0 | Curr Season Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Strong Social Network Presence, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

15 (15) The 100 (CW) – The CW has stood behind this show thus far, but it has failed to build an audience.  And it doesn’t go into next year with that coveted third season show status because it has only aired just over two half-season’s worth of episodes thus far.  Consider it very likely that they give it thirteen more episodes and call it a day at that.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating: 0.6 | Curr Season Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Fifth Place Network Series, Strong Social Network Presence, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Declines in Season

12-monkeys-syfy-cancelled16 (24) 12 Monkeys (Syfy) – The numbers haven’t been great for this show, but it still got a second season renewal.  Perhaps it had international financing backing it that made it a profitable venture for Syfy despite the Nielsen results.  Perhaps that network decided to stand by it because it fits with their return to more science fiction oriented programming.  In any case, I believe it will need to get its numbers up next season to have any hopes of surviving into a third year.
StD Rating: 0.3 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Strong Early Buzz
Cons: Poor Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

17 (19) Sleepy Hollow (FOX) – I raised the Cancellation Alert on this show, and FOX turns around and renews it.  Probably just to spite me and force me to revise this post!  But the renewal was definitely not a sure thing considering its ratings drop from its first year as well as its late second season slide.  And the network is shaking things up with a new showrunner and a move to more episodic stories.  Whether that will lead to a turnaround in the ratings remains to be seen.
StD Rating: 1.5 | Prior Season Rating: 2.6 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

18 (16) Once Upon A Time (ABC) – It returned from its long hiatus with decent numbers and even though those have dropped, that can pretty much be attributed to the current ratings slump.  It still looks like a lock for a fifth season renewal, though don’t be surprised if ABC announces that as its last.
StD Rating: 2.4 | Prior Season Rating: 2.2 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Top 25 Based on Ratings, Ratings Improvement Year over Year, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline in Season

Likely to Get Renewed:

19 (n/a) The Last Man on Earth (FOX) – This show had a decent bow, but then saw its numbers drop in subsequent weeks.  But as a sitcom, the ratings expectations are not that high and it has performed at about the same level as FOX’s Sunday animated shows which act as its lead-in.  If it can hold at its current levels, then it should get the greenlight for a second season.
StD Rating: 2.0 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Good Debut Ratings, Relative Ratings

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Renewal Possible:

20 (18) Person of Interest (CBS) – CBS is up to its usual scheduling hijinks for this time of year as it alternates repeats with new episodes (and then wonders why the ratings are down).  PoI is still performing well enough for a 10 PM EST entry on that network’s schedule and continues to land in the Top 25 each week based on total viewers, so I believe they will keep it around.  But if it doesn’t make it to the final schedule for the 2015-16 season, blame CBS’ aversion to sci fi and their poor scheduling decisions.
StD Rating: 1.6 | Prior Season Rating: 2.0 | Curr Season Target: 1.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: High Total Viewership, Top 25 Based on Viewership
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season, Poor Scheduling

On the Bubble:

dig-usa-cancelled21 (n/a) Dig (USA) – This “limited-run event” series (meaning they just want to fool you into believing the story will end with some sort of resolution) received a fair amount of promotion, but debuted to tepid numbers and then slipped lower in its second week.  It’s definitely below the numbers that I have noticed for other USA shows, so its prospects don’t look good at this point.  It could have international financing backing it, though, which could make it profitable despite the ratings results.  At this point, I believe that is the only thing that could help it get a second season.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: International Financing?
Cons: Mediocre/Poor Ratings

22 (n/a) The Returned (A&E) – This remake of the acclaimed French series Les Revenants may have dipped into the same well too many times.  The original already aired on Sundance TV with subtitles and ABC tried to remake it as Resurrection which looks definitely headed to cancellation (see below).  A&E’s take on the same story has pulled only tepid numbers thus far and looks like it may be headed for a quick exit.  However, as with USA’s Dig, The Returned may have international financing backing it which is the only thing that I believe could earn it a second season.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: 0.8 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: International Financing?
Cons: Mediocre/Poor Ratings

23 (20) Agents of SHIELD (ABC) – As expected, the long hiatus proved a momentum killer to the slight surge we saw at the end of Fall.  This show is now at all-time lows (though its most recent episode edged up) and a third season is looking tenuous at best.  I believe the only thing that can save it on ABC short of a ratings turnaround is an edict from Disney, but then there’s always a chance that Netflix could take a flyer on it.

StD Rating: 1.7 | Prior Season Rating: 2.4 | Curr Season Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Recognized Franchise, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Decline Year over Year, Decline in Season, High Production Costs

24 (21) Agent Carter (ABC) – This show went out on a low note and if Agents of SHIELD gets cancelled I’m sure that Agent Carter will follow.  As with that AoS, both show’s fates hang on how much Disney is willing to fight to keep them on the air despite poor ratings.
StD Rating: 1.4 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Recognized Franchise, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Mediocre Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

25 (22) Forever (ABC) – I was hoping that ABC might be pulling for this show based on its DVR numbers (indicating that those truly are being looked at now), but the frequent preemptions and reruns now make me think that it is nothing more than schedule fodder as it pads out the hours until season end.
StD Rating: 1.1 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Decent Debut Ratings, Full Season Pickup, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Low Ratings, Ratings Decline in Season

Likely to Get Cancelled:

haven-syfy-cancelled26 (25) Haven (Syfy) – The numbers for this show remained low throughout the first half of its fifth season, but the second half is still happening and they are bringing in a big name with William Shatner stopping by for a multiple episode arc.  But it looks like we won’t see the ratings results from that until later in the year because Syfy has yet to get this one back on the schedule (expect a Summer or Fall return).
StD Rating: 0.2 | Prior Season Rating: 0.4 | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated
Pros: Low Production Costs, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Low Ratings, Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

27 (26) Helix (Syfy) – 12 Monkeys got a reprieve despite its low ratings, but I don’t believe the same will be true for Helix.  It has barely registered in the ratings this season (sinking as low as only one tenth of a ratings point in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights), so its chances of returning look very slim unless it has some really good international financing backing it.
StD Rating: 0.2 | Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.4 | Curr Season Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated
Cons: Poor Ratings, Ratings Decline Year over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

28 (27) Constantine (NBC) – With its season finale, this show has almost certainly aired its last episode on NBC.  But Warner Bros. studio appears to be fighting for it, so maybe it could shift to one of the cable nets (or Netflix) where it would be a better fit.
StD Rating: 0.9 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.1 | Cancellation Alert: High
Pros: Relative Ratings, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Ratings Declines in Season

29 (28) Galavant (ABC) – It bowed to decent numbers, then dropped off pretty quickly.  But ABC gets to cancel this one (even though they will probably never officially cancel it) without admitting defeat.  They will just claim it was always intended to run for only four weeks (though they definitely built in the possibility for continuation).
StD Rating: 1.3 | Prior Season Rating: n/a | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: High
Pros: Decent Debut Ratings, Good DVR Gains
Cons: Decline in Season

30 (29) Resurrection (ABC) – This show started out as a surprise hit in its first season, but fell to disastrous levels by the end of its second year.  It saw some boost with delayed viewing, but not enough for its premium Sunday 9 PM EST timeslot.  The Season 2 finale for this one will almost certainly be its series finale.
StD Rating: 1.3 | Prior Season Rating: 2.5 | Curr Season Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: High
Cons: Ratings Declines Year Over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

Cancelled:

Ascension-Syfy-CancelledAscension (Syfy) – But this was a “limited series”, you say.  How could it get cancelled?  Ask that to all those viewers still hanging on the edge of their seats waiting for some resolution to that final cliffhanger.  It looks like it may have been a still-born series anyway, with that mini-series run as nothing more than a burn-off.  But Syfy’s return to science fiction has definitely had a rocky start.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Prior Season Rating Avg: n/a | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Cons: Mediocre Ratings

Unrankable:

Both of these shows have received renewals despite ratings numbers 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.  Note that both of these shows have been moved to Summer for their third season runs.

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 Year Over Year, Ratings Decline in Season

Beauty and the Beast (CW, Returning for a 3rd Season) – This one has not even aired a single Season 3 episode (it’s scheduled for a Summer run), and it already received a fourth year renewal.  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 does The CW just want to be the network that renewed all of its shows this season?  (If so, good news for the upcoming iZombie and The Messengers.) 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 the network executives that keep renewing Beauty and the Beast.
Prior Season Rating Avg: 0.3 | Curr Season Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: No Guess
Pros: Recognized Franchise? Good International Audience?
Cons: Abysmal Ratings

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