This ongoing column focuses on shows that currently have a question mark concerning their future. You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi and fantasy shows at this link.
We are approaching season end and Gotham and Lucifer (both of which air on FOX and pull their source material from DC comics) continue to under-perform in the ratings. The network will have fewer hours available to program next season because Thursday nights will be dedicated to NFL Football in the Fall. So any ratings slackers will definitely be under heavy scrutiny as the network execs hammer out the upcoming schedule. But ultimately, the decision will likely come down to what sort of deal that Warner Bros. (the studio that owns both shows) makes with FOX.
Gotham is in its fourth year and will have a syndication-friendly count of 88 episodes by season end. If the studio decides to just rake in the profits from syndication and streaming at this point, they can let the show end in Spring and head to its encore run. But I have seen nothing to suggest the showrunners have approached this season as its last, so does that mean it would end on a cliffhanger? FOX will likely receive no residuals from syndication or streaming, so they will mostly be interested in profiting off its original airings, and at its current ratings levels it is definitely not drawing top advertising dollars. If WB offers the show at a steep discount it may be worth it for FOX to keep it on and possibly shift it to Fridays or another low-viewership hour on the schedule. And Warner Bros, may target a shortened final season to give it better closure, which FOX could use as schedule spackle. I don’t see the show going for more than a fifth season on FOX, and that will require some wheeling and dealing on the part of Warner Bros. There is a chance that they could let the show end its run on FOX and continue it on DC’s streaming service that is set to launch next year, but that depends on the license agreement that FOX has with WB. For now, I am moving Gotham to Bubble status and consider it very much a toss up on whether it will be back for another year with FOX.
The situation is a little different for Lucifer because it is not in the syndication stretch yet. It will only have 57 episodes at season end because it had a shortened first year order of thirteen eps (it bowed at mid-season). That means it will take more than one additional season to get it to the 88 episode threshold preferred by the syndication market. I’m sure it is worthwhile for WB to keep the show going long enough to make it more attractive for an encore run, but not so much for FOX which does not reap the financial benefits of that. Lucifer’s numbers are down this season, though not as much as Gotham, but it is still in iffy territory. I like its chances better than the latter series at this point, and I believe the Warner Bros will push harder in negotiations on to keep it on the air. I am close to moving it to Bubble status, but not quite there yet. If it can hold steady, or even improve slightly by season eand, I believe it has a chance. Fans are already lobbying FOX on Twitter for a fourth season and that could give the network the nudge it needs for the renewal nod.
Any decision on both shows will likely go right to the wire and we may not hear an announcement until FOX presents its schedule at the Upfronts on May 14th. For now, consider Lucifer to have the better chance for renewal, but both shows are marginal candidates at best. But also consider the possibility that if one or both depart FOX, they could make the move to DC’s upcoming streaming service.
Expect plenty of renewal and cancellation announcements as we head toward season end, and be sure to follow this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for updates and breaking news.