Cancellation Watch: The Ratings-Pocalypse Has Begun, How Will it Impact Struggling Shows Like Grimm and Sleepy Hollow? Plus the Ratings Roundup

By | March 22, 2016

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-pocalypseRatings-Pocalypse: As I mentioned previously, the broadcast networks tend to see a drop in their ratings after Daylight Savings Time goes into effect, and we can clearly see that in the numbers from this past week.   Which means that the bottom is falling out on the already historically low numbers we have been seeing this year.  I had believed that the ratings-pocalypse was not far off, but now it appears that it is upon us.  The averages across the Big Four networks for non-sports, non-repeat programming were already down in Fall, and 2016 has seen those fall further (The CW has actually improved a bit, though).  And now with the DST Effect kicking in, the numbers are even lower than what we saw in the early months of 2016.  This will almost certainly hasten the changes to the television landscape that we have been expecting with the broadcast nets likely scrambling to focus more on digital viewing with online channels like CBS All Access or other non-linear viewing strategies.  And the Nielsen numbers will continue to become less and less important and may no longer be a factor in their current format possibly as soon as next season.  It remains to be seen how the ratings-pocalypse will impact that company, but I expect some major shifts to be occurring over the next year.

Interestingly, the downward spiral of the ratings has had the opposite effect from what you would expect on the shows currently airing, and a renewal fever has spread across the broadcast networks (and some of the cable channels) as we have seen a record number of renewals over the past month or so.  In fact, the majority of this season’s sci fi / fantasy entries will be coming back, as the networks have apparently decided to white-knuckle the ratings nose dive and bring back as many known properties as possible.  But there are a few stragglers still awaiting word on their fate.  Among those, almost certainly headed to the Network Executioner are Minority Report (FOX), Second Chance (FOX), and You, Me, and The Apocalypse (NBC) as they have slipped to historically low levels for scripted shows on the Big Four networks.  NBC’s Grimm has been down all season and I previously thought its chances for a sixth season were slim at best, but now I’m thinking another year is doable.  It’s only slightly lower than where ABC’s Agents of SHIELD is at the moment and it airs on low viewership Fridays.  Plus, it’s all padding to the syndication package at this point and it plugs up an hour on Friday nights.  Sleepy Hollow also covers a difficult hour on that night for FOX, but it is still too far away from the syndication stretch and its numbers are lower.  I wouldn’t rule out a renewal, though.  That network’s Lucifer has seen its numbers drop considerably since its debut, but I like its chances a little better at the moment.  The Last Man on Earth is a toss-up show among the FOX entries, though.  It’s less expensive to produce since it is a sitcom, but it disappeared for a long time and then was preempted after only two episodes back, so it appears to be just schedule spackle at this point.  Among the CBS genre entries, I believe Supergirl still has a decent chance of flying into a second season despite its drop-off of late, though Limitless may have pushed the limit of the network execs’ patience, even though its ratings slide can be directly attributed to their poor scheduling decisions.  We are still a month and a half away from the Upfronts when the networks will present their schedules for the 2016-17, and all the renewal / cancellation calls will need to be made by then.  But despite the death spiral in the ratings (or maybe because of it), several of the current struggling shows still have a chance.

In breaking news last week, Freeform renewed Shadowhunters for a second season, FOX renewed Gotham for a third season, and CBS announced that the fifth season of Person of Interest will be its last.  And you can see the broadcast net and cable scorecards at this link.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday March 14th thru Sunday March 20th (metric definitions below):

(Updated for the broadcast network and cable Top 25 chart activity)

Gotham FOX Mon 3/14 8 PM
Rating: 1.3 | % Chng PW: -13.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.0 | StD Rating: 1.5 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Low

Its numbers slipped, but that’s the DST Effect.  It it has been renewed for a third season anyway.

Supergirl CBS Mon 3/14 8 PM
Rating: 1.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 6.5 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It remained low, but it still looks like a good candidate to get caught up in the current renewal fever.

Chart Activity: After a week off, this show returned to the broadcast network Top 25 based on total viewers at the Number 24 slot.

Lucifer CBS Mon 3/14 9 PM
Rating: 1.2 | % Chng PW: -7.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.9 | StD Rating: 1.6 | Net Avg: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

The DST Effect drove this show to a series low, but I don’t think it is in too much trouble yet.  I’m sure FOX is at least considering bringing this one back, unlike Minority Report and Second Chance.

The Magicians Syfy Mon 3/14 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: +3.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.7 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It held mostly steady and it has already been renewed for a second season.

Damien A&E Mon 3/14 10 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: -32.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.5 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Its numbers dropped to pretty low levels, has the renewal fever made it to A&E?  It is currently performing well below where The Returned was last season before getting the ax by the same network.  If Damien has sufficient international financing and/or partnerships, it has a chance of surviving into a second season.

Lost Girl Syfy Mon 3/14 10 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: -16.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.4 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

It remained low as it airs out its final season.

Bitten Syfy Mon 3/14 11 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: -18.2% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.3 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

This show is also pulling low numbers as it airs its final year.

The Flash(R) CW Tue 3/15 8 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.1 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns this week with a new episode.

Agents of SHIELD ABC Tue 3/15 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | % Chng PW: -9.1% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.9 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This show slipped again to yet another series low, but chalk that up to the DST Effect.  And it has already been saved for a fourth season by the current renewal fever (now do the same for Agent Carter and Galavant please, ABC).

iZombie(R) CW Tue 3/15 9 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns this week with a new episode.

Shadowhunters Free Tue 3/15 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -23.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It slipped some, but it also learned that it will be coming back for a second season.

Teen Wolf MTV Tue 3/15 9 PM
Rating: Season Ended | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Season ended, renewed for a sixth season.

Limitless CBS Tue 3/15 10 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.6 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It held low and it has to hope that the current renewal fever will help it to avoid the Network Executioner.

Arrow(R) CW Wed 3/16 8 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 1.0 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns this week with a new episode.

Supernatural(R) CW Wed 3/16 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns this week with a new episode.

Star Wars Rebels DXD Wed 3/16 9:30 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This show continues to perform well enough with its target demographic as it heads into its season finale.  And it has already been renewed for a third season.

Legends of Tomorrow(R) CW Thu 3/17 8 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.2 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns March 31st with new episodes.

You Me and the Apocalypse NBC Thu 3/17 8 PM
Rating: 0.6 | % Chng PW: +20.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.8 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Net Avg: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated

It improved slightly, but I don’t believe the current renewal fever will be strong enough to bring this one back for a second season.

The 100(R) CW Thu 3/17 9 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns March 31st with new episodes.

Colony USA Thu 3/17 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -8.1% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.2 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It slipped for its season finale, but it has already been renewed for a second year.

Vampire Diaries(R) CW Fri 3/18 8 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns April 1st with new episodes.

Sleepy Hollow FOX Fri 3/18 8 PM
Rating: 0.8 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.8 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: High

It held low and has to hope that the renewal fever will help convince FOX to keep this one on the schedule next year to plug up an hour on low viewership Fridays.

Slasher Chill Fri 3/18 9 PM
Rating: 0.0 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.1 | StD Rating: 0.0 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

The numbers for this show continue to barely register, but that should be expected for its network.  It likely has international financing / partnerships that will help carry it to a second season.

The Originals(R) CW Fri 3/18 9 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.5 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Repeat. It returns April 1st with new episodes.

Second Chance FOX Fri 3/18 9 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.9 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: High

The numbers remained low and the current renewal fever will almost certainly not be strong enough to keep it from a date with the Network Executioner.

Grimm NBC Fri 3/18 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | % Chng PW: +11.1% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.2 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

It improve slightly (defying the DST Effect), and I’m thinking chances are better now that NBC will keep this one around for at least one more year.  No guarantees, though.

Beowulf ESQ Sat 3/19 10 PM
Rating: 0.0 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.2 | StD Rating: 0.0 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This show continues to barely register in the ratings for Esquire and word is that ITV (its home network in Britain) will not be bringing it back for a second season.

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 3/20 8 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: -15.4% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.5 | StD Rating: 1.5 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It slipped to a series low, but blame the DST Effect.  This one has already been caught up in the renewal favor and will return for a sixth season.

The Walking Dead AMC Sun 3/20 9 PM
Rating: 6.0 | % Chng PW: +1.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 12.7 | StD Rating: 6.5 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It held mostly steady as zombies apparently don’t notice the time change (do they still Spring Forward in the zombie-pocalypse?).  Expect this show to stick around for several more years.

Chart Activity:  This show held improved to Number 2 in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 (up from Number 4).  It held at Number 1 in the Cable Top 25 based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic and based on total viewers.  Post-show discussion series The Talking Dead was at Number 2 on both those charts.

The Last Man on Earth FOX Sun 3/20 9:30 PM
Rating: Preempted | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 1.3 | Net Avg: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated

After two episodes back from hiatus, this one gets preempted for two weeks in a row (new eps resume April 3rd).  Has it just become schedule spackle at this point?

Be sure keep an eye out for 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.

Net Avg:  The season to date average rating for the network for non-sports programming and non-repeats.  This data is available for the broadcast networks only.

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.

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