Cancellation Watch: Are We on the Verge of a Broadcast Net Sci Fi-Pocalypse?

By | April 1, 2017

 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.

Sci Fi-Pocalypse: Every year about this time I mull the possibility of a mass number of genre shows getting cancelled, and so far it has never been quite as bad as what I theorized.  But as we head into the end of the 2016-17 season, I’m seeing the possibility that quite a number of sci fi and fantasy entries on the Big Four broadcast nets (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) may not survive into the next season.  The old school networks have not had a lot of success with the genre the last few years (or the shows that did well for them are waning), and it definitely looks like we will see some house-cleaning this year.  Here’s a look at each of the networks and where their sci fi shows stand.

ABC: We do know that ABC will have at least one sci fi show on its schedule in Fall with the new series The Inhumans (which is not a spin-off from Agents of SHIELD).  But apart from that, it is looking like not many shows from this season will be joining the freshman series.  ABC just yanked Time After Time from the schedule after its poor start, so we know that one will not be returning.  Once Upon A Time is at all-time ratings lows for the show, and the current arc will wrap up that show’s main storylines at the end of this season.  Word is that Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz want to do a reboot of sorts for the seventh season, but there is no guarantee that the network will give them that chance. Agents of SHIELD has been on the bubble since its second season and has only managed to survive because ABC’s parent company Disney wanted a Prime Time tie-in to the Avengers movies. The Inhumans will provide that next year and AoS has enough episodes for a syndication run now, so I am not counting on it coming back for a fifth year.  That leaves a very real possibility that ABC will not carry over any of its genre entries into the 2017-18 season (though I give Once Upon A Time the best chance of sneaking in a renewal).

CBS: The closest thing that this network has to sci fi at the moment is MacGyver and that one has already earned a second season renewal. Apart from that, it is all procedurals and sitcoms for the sci fi-averse network.

FOX: This network had the most sci fi and fantasy entries scheduled going into the season and could end up with the most cancellations. Lucifer has already been renewed for a third year, but that is the only one holding a ticket to the 2017-18 season at this point. Almost certainly on the outs are Scream Queens, The Exorcist, Sleepy Hollow, and Making History. Son of Zorn is a toss-up depending on how much the network discounts the ratings boosts that one received from NFL bleed-over in the Fall. The Last Man on Earth looks like it might squeak by once again, but that is not guaranteed. I sure thought that Gotham was a no-brainer for a fourth season renewal, but I’m wondering why that announcement did not come at the same time Lucifer was renewed (the both come from Warner Bros.). A fourth year of Gotham gets that one to a syndication friendly count of episodes, and the show has been performing decent in the ratings for FOX. But the network doesn’t own it (the one caveat of the third-year renewal guarantee), and perhaps they are running into some hurdles with contract negotiations. I still like its chances of coming back for one more season, but I wouldn’t call it a sure-thing at this point. So I am thinking that at best FOX only brings back four of this year’s genre shows with a worst case scenario of only one out of eight.

NBC: This network has renewed one genre entry so far, The Good Place. But Grimm has wrapped up its six year run, Emerald City looks like it is one-season-and-done, Powerless looks like it is in burn-off mode, and the prospects are not great for Timeless (though fans are fighting hard to get that show a second season). Plus, NBC kicked supernatural drama Midnight Texas–originally scheduled as a mid-season series–to Summer which looks like they lost confidence in the show. At most, this network will only be returning two of its planned 2016-17 season shows, and that could be only one depending on what NBC decides with Timeless.

The CW: I am not counting The CW into the Sci Fi-Pocalypse because the Happy Net likes to renew shows. And at this point, all of its veteran genre entries from Fall have had their tickets stamped (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Supernatural) along with The 100 which returned at mid-season. Vampire Diaries just wrapped up its eight-season run, so it will not be back. And freshman series Frequency is not looking good, but you never know with the fifth place network. Mid-Season entry The Originals has definitely lost a fair amount of its audience, but I like its chances of at least getting a final season nod. And I’m thinking iZombie is good for at least one more season if not more.

So if you do the math above, its possible that only three out of seventeen sci fi and fantasy shows from the Big Four could survive into the 2017-18 season (taking Midnight Texas out of the mix). And best case is only nine of seventeen, just barely over fifty percent. I’m guessing it will be lower than that last number and slightly better than worst case, but it looks like a good possibility that half or more of the genre entries will have fallen by May. Expect plenty of announcements now that we are in Upfront season (the full schedule is at this link), especially during the second week of May which is right before the broadcast nets unveil their schedules.

Renewal Announcement: Netflix’s dark comedy Santa Clarita Diet, about a woman who catches the zombie virus but still tries to go about her normal life, will be returning for a second season. The renewal was announced in somewhat grisly fashion with this clip that says the show will be returning for “seconds” in 2018. That series, which stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant, debuted earlier this year and has received mostly good reviews thus far (it has a 70% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Netflix does not share its viewing numbers, so I am not certain how large its audience was in its first year, but it has become almost expected now for the streaming services (particularly Netflix and Amazon) to renew their originals for at least a second season.

Ratings Results of Interest: On Wednesday, Syfy’s The Expanse improved to a 0.17 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 570K total viewers. That comes after three weeks of declining ratings, and perhaps the recent activity from the show’s fanbase has brought it more attention as well as its coverage in Wired and Rolling Stone.

In other ratings news, FX’s Legion wrapped up its first season with a slight improvement to its numbers, pulling a 0.42 rating with 810K total viewers. That show has been renewed for a second season. On Thursday, NBC’s superhero comedy Powerless slipped to a series low 0.5 rating with 1.8 million total viewers after returning from two weeks of preemptions. That show definitely looks to be in trouble at the moment and is in danger of getting yanked from the schedule like ABC’s Time After Time.

Charts: Not much change in the charts this week. The Walking Dead remained at Number 1 in both cable Top 25 charts and was at Number 4 in the Nielsen Social Net Top 10 (the numbers for that chart from the prior week were not available). Into the Badlands remained mostly stable except for a slight drop in the Top 25 based on total viewers. MacGyver, which was preempted two weeks for basketball, should be back in the charts when this week’s numbers are tallied.

Series Chart Curr Wk Rank Prior Wk Rank
Into the Badlands Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 6 6
Into the Badlands Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) 13 11
The Walking Dead Nielsen Social Net Ratings Top 10 4 n/a
The Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 1 1
The Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) 1 1

Be sure keep an eye out for the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week at the  Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site and Facebook Page. You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page. 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.

3 thoughts on “Cancellation Watch: Are We on the Verge of a Broadcast Net Sci Fi-Pocalypse?

  1. pamela white

    So so many have gone down the pan this last 2 years, but the one that we all miss more than any other??? A town called eureka…now this one you should have kept…i watch all the re-runs and never get sick of it… sad day for si-fi

  2. Lee

    Not really a sad day for Sci-fi, as most of these shows are crap.
    SCI FI is a double edged sword and TV Execs hate it.
    They’ll either make it dumb, silly, outlandish or unoriginal (Sleepy Hollow, come on!) and it gets old pretty quickly or make good Sci-Fi (The Expanse) which turns off the general public and gets abysmal ratings. Not to mention, most people who are Sci-Fi fans are either downloading from (ahem) alternative sources or are timeshiftimg so revenue is reduced.


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