Cancellation Watch: Game of Thrones Returns at a Series High; How Do the Spin-Off Rumors Affect the Fate of Agents of SHIELD?

By | April 14, 2015

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.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Thursday Apr 9th thru Monday Apr 13th (analysis and metric definitions below):

[Updated for Sunday and Monday Final Numbers]

Vampire Diaries (R) CW Thu 4/9 8 PM
Rating: Preempted | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Preempted. Resumes new episodes this week.

Olympus Syfy Thu 4/9 10 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.7 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This one may want to be the Greek mythology version of Game of Thrones, but its current 0.2 ratings average is only 5% of GoT‘s premiere ratings.  There’s no threat of this one dethroning the reigning king of fantasy on television.

Dig USA Thu 4/9 10 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It remained low and continues to look like a poor prospect for renewal short of some stout international backing keeping it alive.

Grimm NBC Fri 4/10 9 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: +10.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.8 | StD Rating: 1.2 | Target: 1.2 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It improved slightly from last week.  Maybe it can make a surge as it wraps up its fourth season.

12 Monkeys Syfy Fri 4/10 9 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.7 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Not strong numbers for its season finale.  I can’t imagine it will last into a third year at these levels.  (More on this one below)

Helix Syfy Fri 4/10 10 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: -50.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.4 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated

It dropped back down to a 0.1 for its season finale.  Syfy tends to wait a while before announcing a cancellation (maybe to defuse potential fan backlash), but I do expect they will announce that it will not be coming back at some point.  (More on this one below)

Outlander Starz Sat 4/11 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.9 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Low

Its ratings held steady with its premiere, and those should be good enough for a Starz show.

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 4/12 8 PM
Rating: 1.6 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.2 | StD Rating: 2.3 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This one slipped to a series low.  I’m still thinking that it gets one more season, but that will likely be its last.

The Last Man on Earth FOX Sun 4/12 9 PM
Rating: 1.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.3 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It remained low, but it did have to go up against the premiere of Game of Thrones.  This is just a brutal timeslot for the broadcast networks these days considering juggernaut The Walking Dead just vacated it.

Game of Thrones HBO Sun 4/12 9 PM
Rating: 4.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 8.0 | StD Rating: 4.2 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

No surprise that it returned strong as the cable channels continue to steal away viewers from the broadcast nets.  (More on this one below)

Salem WGN Sun 4/12 10 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: -50.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.4 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped from its premiere, but it hovered around these numbers in its first season and still got a renewal.  I assume it has international financing and syndication propping it up.

The Originals CW Mon 4/13 8 PM
Rating: 0.6 | % Chng PW: +20.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

When the finals came in, this one was adjusted from a 0.6 rating to a 0.4.  Ouch!  I blame all the repeats The CW has been running lately but now it runs straight thru to its season finale.

Gotham FOX Mon 4/13 8 PM
Rating: 1.5 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.5 | StD Rating: 2.3 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

A month off and it returns at a series low, imagine that!  Maybe it can make a surge with its last four eps that will run uninterrupted.

game-of-thrones-season-5Series Premiere:  HBO’s Game of Thrones returned on Sunday and set a series high of a 4.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights with eight million total viewers.  There was a bunch of hoopla earlier on Sunday about several episodes of the show being leaked, but if anything that only gave the show that much more PR.  And like The Walking Dead, GoT just keeps growing its audience each season and stomping all over the broadcast networks with its performance in the demo (the closest those channels came with a non-sports entry was the 3.5 score that Big Bang Theory pulled for CBS last week).  Expect the numbers for GoT to trend down in the coming weeks but then also expect it to set or at least match its series high with its fifth year finale in June.  And this one has already been renewed for a sixth season, so it’s not going away any time soon.

Rumor Mill: Word started spreading last week that ABC is considering doing a spin-off of Agents of SHIELD which would hit the schedule sometime next year.  Information is very sketchy at this point, but word is that the spin-off would include characters from the current show.  Beyond that, though, there’s not much more information.  The CW has already had success with that, spinning off The Flash from Arrow and now another show is in the works which looks like it would headline the Atom.  But that network’s superhero shows are among its top performing shows whereas Agents of SHIELD has been in a serious ratings slump throughout its second season.  It seems kind of odd to me that ABC is considering adding another hour of programming to their schedule that does not have high ratings prospects, but with AoS being part of the multi-billion dollar Avengers franchise it certainly has Disney (who owns ABC) in its corner.  And this may also be a way for ABC to hedge its bets on Agents of SHIELD.  The show is currently wrapping up its second year and a third season renewal by the broadcast networks for a show that has completed two full years typically comes with a rubberstamp for a fourth year.  The thinking is that by the end of the show’s third season it is very close to having an episode count that is attractive to the syndication market (where a series really starts to turn a profit), so it makes good financial sense to stick with it for at least one more year.  But Agents of SHIELD is an expensive show to produce and I have to think the ABC execs are squirming at the thoughts of keeping it around two more years at its current ratings levels.  But here’s where a spin-off may make a third season renewal more palatable.  They could give AoS a 22 episode order and 13 to the spin-off (the thinking is that it will do a timeslot share like Agent Carter did this season).  If the ratings remain low for the two shows, they could cut ties with them and bundle both plus Agent Carter as a package syndication deal (maybe throwing in a couple of episodes to tie them all together).  This gets 80 plus episodes for the syndication run which should be acceptable if not ideal, and ABC doesn’t have to sink the money into a fourth season of Agents of SHIELD.  I have no idea if that is really what the ABC execs are thinking at this point, but it seems like a viable option especially if Disney is pushing the network to keep AoS on the air.  Agent Carter ends up losing out in all of this, though.  If ABC does greenlight a third season of AoS plus a spin-off, I can’t see them keeping AC around as well seeing as it never drew strong ratings.  And if ABC ends up cancelled AoS this season, I see AC following it to the chopping block as well.  It’s all speculation at this point, but I am going to lower the alert level for Agents of SHIELD by one notch from Medium to Moderate because if ABC is talking spin-off then they have to be thinking renewal for the parent series.  And I’m tempted to move Agent Carter to and Elevated Cancellation Alert because I don’t see too many scenarios emerging that would bring that one back next season.  But I will go ahead and leave it where it is for now.  We should get final word on the spin-off by season end, so keep a close eye on this site for any updates or breaking news.

On the Hot Seat:  Syfy’s Friday shows did not go out strong as neither 12 Monkeys nor Helix saw a ratings surge with their season finales.  The former show held at a 0.2 rating in the 18-49 demo with 660k total viewers (but it did make it to the Nielsen Twitter Ratings Daily Top 5 on Fri) while the latter slipped to a 0.1 rating with only 440k  total viewers.  12 Monkeys has already been renewed for a second season, but I’m thinking it will need to get those numbers up when it returns if it wants to survive into a third year.  Helix is awaiting a renewal announcement and I believe the picture looks grim for that one unless it has some good international financing and syndication backing it.  Interestingly, TV by the Numbers just yesterday published the cable Live+7 numbers (they have previously just been posting those for the broadcast nets) and both of these shows ranked near the top of the list of percentage gains for the week of March 23rd thru 29th.  Helix had a 200% gain and 12 Monkeys had 150%, but that only put them at a rating of 0.3 and 0.5 respectively.  Those are passable numbers at best for the live broadcast and not too impressive when a full week’s worth of delayed viewing is factored in.  And neither of these two have been showing up in the Top 25 cable shows based on the Live+3 numbers.  I’m still thinking that Syfy renewed 12 Monkeys because it fits well with their return to science fiction and it has been generating some good buzz.  They are going to give it another season to see if it can build its audience just like they did with Helix after that one’s first season (which didn’t work out too well).  But if the numbers do not improve, I believe 12 Monkey‘s second season will be its last and I am expecting a cancellation announcement for Helix within the next month or so.

I will post the results for The Returned when they are available later today or early tomorrow.  Be sure keep an eye out for that and all the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week at the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site.  You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page and also the latest Sci Fi TV Power Rankings post. And for more information on where I get these numbers and how I make my Cancellation Alert assessments, check out the Cancelled Sci Fi FAQ.

Metric Definitions:

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

% Chng PW: The percentage change +/- for this week’s rating vs. last week’s rating.

Tot Viewers: Estimated total viewers (age 2+) 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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