Cancellation Watch: A Look at How Well the Scorecard Predicted Renewals and Cancellations This Year

By | May 17, 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.

Scorecard Review: We know the status now of all the broadcast network shows and most the cable entries from the 2016-17 season so it is worth taking a look at how the scorecard predicted their fates and also some of the trends that we have seen this year.  You can see below that all the shows performing at or above their network benchmark got renewed with one exception: FOX’s Son of Zorn.  But if you take out the boost that one got multiple times from NFL Football, it would have been below the benchmark and it is also an expensive series to produce.  And once you get to about 20% below the benchmark, that is where you start seeing more cancellations, though that is not guaranteed as we see with low-ranked shows like USA’s Falling Water and BBC America’s Dirk Gently.

And that is where some of the trends we have seen come into play, one of the biggest of which is streaming partnerships. Dirk Gently has a Netflix streaming deal internationally and Falling Water has an exclusive VOD deal with Amazon (though I still don’t understand how that is different than the typical one Amazon has for other shows), both of which helped them get the second season nod. The CW shows have an exclusive deal with Netflix where they become available for streaming eight days after they wrap up their season. All of these provide additional revenue and mean that the shows do no have to rely as heavily on advertising dollars that are driven by the old-school Nielsen Ratings. Streaming deals do not assure that a show will not get cancelled (with Frequency as a clear example), but it can give them a boost, especially the cable entries.

Another trend we are seeing, especially among the broadcast networks, is a focus on owning or at least partially owning the shows they are airing. That doesn’t assure that a show will get renewed, but if the decision comes down to the wire that seems to be giving a strong nudge towards a renewal nod. Along those lines, apparently part of the NBC’s decision to reverse the cancellation of Timeless came through negotiations that gave more ownership to the network (Sony is co-owner of the show).

But we still see that the overnight ratings as reported by Nielsen act as a leading indicator of how a show is performing. Higher rated shows are still getting renewed more often than not and lower rated shows are still getting cancelled more often than not. There are plenty of exceptions, and I believe that line will continue to blur over the coming years, but the Scorecared–which gauges status by the overnight ratings–still gives a good approximation of where a show stands.

Both NBC and FOX have claimed that they will focus more heavily on multi-platform performance next year, and that is what networks in general will have to do to survive in the current television landscape. And hopefully those numbers will become widely available (Nielsen continues to claim it is working in that direction) so that we can better track where shows stand.  But for now, the Scorecard is still giving a good approximation.  It’s not always accurate, but it gets it right more often than not.

Ratings Results of Interest: On Sunday, Starz’s American Gods slipped to a 0.28 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 720k total viewers. But those are still good numbers for that network and that show has already been renewed for a third season. Over on AMC, Into the Badlands improved to a 0.56 rating with 1.6 million total viewers as that one has been trending up heading into next week’s season finale. ABC’s Once Upon A Time only managed a 0.9 rating with thee million total viewers for its season finale. That one has been renewed for a sixth season, but it will be moving to Friday nights next year.

Scorecard: The scorecard ranks all of the sci fi & fantasy shows’ ratings performance vs. their network’s ratings benchmark (see definition below).  Shows at or above their benchmark should be okay, whereas those slipping notably below are getting into iffy territory.

Scorecard based on the ratings through May 14th (metric definitions below):

Rank (PW) Series Net Std Avg Net Bench % Var Live+7 Avg Rtg Status
1 (1) The Walking Dead (O) AMC 5.39 0.60 798.2% 7.95 Renewed
2 (2) American Horror Story (O) FX 1.58 0.60 162.5% 3.16 Renewed
3 (3) The Flash (O) CW 1.06 0.50 112.4% 1.89 Renewed
4 (4) American Gods STARZ 0.31 0.20 56.7% n/a Renewed
5 (5) The Magicians Syfy 0.31 0.20 54.6% 0.71 Renewed
6 (6) Supergirl (O) CW 0.74 0.50 48.0% 1.37 Renewed
7 (7) Star Wars Rebels (O) DXD 0.14 0.10 44.7% 0.34 Renewed
8 (8) Into the Badlands AMC 0.82 0.60 37.4% 1.44 Renewed
9 (9) Westworld HBO 0.80 0.60 33.8% 1.50 Renewed
10 (10) Son of Zorn (O) FOX 1.28 0.99 29.3% n/a Cancelled
11 (11) Legends of Tomorrow (O) CW 0.64 0.50 28.2% 1.13 Renewed
12 (12) Arrow (O) CW 0.63 0.50 26.7% 1.16 Renewed
13 (13) Z Nation Syfy 0.25 0.20 24.3% 0.42 Renewed
14 (14) Supernatural (O) CW 0.60 0.50 19.0% 1.09 Renewed
15 (15) Gotham FOX 1.11 0.99 12.6% 1.88 Renewed
16 (16) Shadowhunters Free 0.28 0.25 11.2% 0.50 Renewal Likely
17 (17) Lucifer FOX 1.07 0.99 8.0% 1.85 Renewed
18 (18) Stan Against Evil IFC 0.08 0.08 -4.7% n/a Renewed
19 (19) The Librarians TNT 0.47 0.50 -5.2% 0.88 Renewed
20 (20) Channel Zero Syfy 0.19 0.20 -5.8% 0.38 Renewed
21 (21) The Last Man on Earth (O) FOX 0.91 0.99 -7.6% 1.48 Renewed
22 (22) The Good Place (O) NBC 1.25 1.36 -8.0% 1.91 Renewed
23 (23) Colony USA 0.26 0.30 -12.6% 0.60 Renewed
24 (24) The Expanse Syfy 0.17 0.20 -15.0% 0.39 Renewed
25 (25) MacGyver (O) (F) CBS 1.08 1.27 -15.5% 1.67 Renewed
26 (26) People of Earth TBS 0.33 0.40 -18.1% n/a Renewed
27 (27) Timeless NBC 1.11 1.36 -18.1% 2.07 Renewed
28 (28) Incorporated Syfy 0.16 0.20 -20.0% 0.34 Cancelled
29 (29) Aftermath Syfy 0.16 0.20 -20.8% 0.33 Cancelled
30 (30) Van Helsing Syfy 0.16 0.20 -21.3% 0.30 Renewed
31 (31) Ash vs Evil Dead STARZ 0.16 0.20 -21.5% 0.34 Renewed
32 (33) Once Upon A Time (O) ABC 0.93 1.21 -23.1% 1.53 Renewed
33 (34) Guardians of the Galaxy DXD 0.08 0.10 -24.0% n/a On the Bubble
34 (32) The 100 (O) CW 0.35 0.46 -24.1% 0.67 Renewed
35 (35) Legion (O) FX 0.45 0.60 -25.0% 1.17 Renewed
35 (36) Vampire Diaries (O) (F) CW 0.38 0.50 -25.0% 0.75 Ended
37 (38) Making History (O) NBC 0.68 0.91 -25.6% n/a Cancelled
38 (37) Teen Wolf MTV 0.22 0.30 -25.7% 0.44 Final Season
39 (39) The Originals (O) (F) CW 0.33 0.46 -28.6% 0.64 Renewed
40 (40) iZombie (O) CW 0.32 0.46 -30.4% 0.67 Renewed
41 (41) The Strain FX 0.42 0.60 -30.8% 0.85 Renewed
42 (42) The Exorcist (O) (F) FOX 0.67 0.99 -32.1% 1.09 Renewed
43 (43) Scream Queens (O) FOX 0.61 0.99 -38.2% 0.96 Cancelled
44 (44) Agents of SHIELD (O) ABC 0.74 1.21 -39.2% 1.59 Renewed
45 (45) Grimm (O) (F) NBC 0.80 1.36 -41.1% 1.43 Ended
46 (46) The Leftovers HBO 0.35 0.60 -41.3% n/a Final Season
47 (47) Beyond Free 0.14 0.25 -42.7% n/a Renewed
48 (48) Powerless (O) NBC 0.70 1.22 -42.7% n/a Cancelled
49 (49) Emerald City (O) (F) NBC 0.69 1.22 -43.6% 1.23 Cancelled
50 (50) Sleepy Hollow (O) (F) FOX 0.51 0.91 -44.0% 0.94 Cancelled
51 (51) Frequency (O) CW 0.28 0.50 -44.6% 0.51 Cancelled
52 (52) Salem WGN 0.08 0.15 -48.0% n/a Cancelled
53 (53) Falling Water USA 0.15 0.30 -51.0% 0.30 Renewed
54 (54) Time After Time ABC 0.53 1.19 -55.9% 0.70 Cancelled
55 (55) Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency BBCA 0.09 0.40 -77.5% n/a Renewed

Metric Definitions:

Rank (PW): Current rank based on the variance of a show’s season to date ratings average vs. its network’s benchmark (see definition below).  The number in parenthesis is the prior week’s rank.  Note that shows on the streaming services are not included because of insufficient viewership data and foreign imports like Doctor Who will not be included because they rely more heavily on their viewership in their home countries.

Series: (O) indicates the show is owned/produced by the network and/or a sister studio. (F) indicates the show airs on Friday when ratings expectations are lower. These typically just apply to the broadcast networks where they are more of a factor.

StD Avg:  The show’s season to date ratings average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic.

Net Bench:  (Network Benchmark) For the broadcast networks, this is the net’s season to date average rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic for non-sports, non-special, non-repeat broadcasts (for FOX, Empire is also excluded because it counts as an outlier).  For the cable channels, this is the lowest level at which a show is typically renewed by that network if there are enough genre entries on that channel to provide a decent sample.  But note that with cable entries intangibles such as international and/or streaming partnerships can play an important factor in a shows survival and that is not measured here.

% Var:  The percent variance between a show’s season to date average and the network benchmark as defined above.  The higher the variance, the better a show is performing vs. the benchmark.

Live+7 Avg Rtg:  The show’s season to date ratings average based on delayed viewing up to three days past the live broadcast.  This data is not available for all shows.

Status: My assessment of the likelihood that a show will get renewed or cancelled. The statuses are Renewal Likely, Renewal Possible, On the Bubble, Cancellation Likely (plus Renewed and Cancelled/Ended)

Ratings Source: ShowBuzzDaily and TV by the Numbers

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