Cancellation Watch Scorecard: The Walking Dead Tops the First Fall Rankings

By | October 17, 2018

Enough shows have debuted now and I have enough overall ratings data on the season to put together the first set of rankings for Fall 2018. Note that these are very preliminary with some shows only having aired a single episode at this point, so expect some movement over the next month or so. But this should give a good picture of how the broadcast network and cable shows are performing compared to their network benchmarks. These rankings compare a show’s ratings against other non-sports, non-special, non-repeat programming on that network for the broadcast nets or against the lowest level that we typically see renewals for the cable channels. Shows at or above their benchmark should be okay, whereas those slipping notably below are getting into iffy territory.  Shows running on the streaming services are not included because there is no ratings data for them, nor do the ranking include those that rely more heavily on the viewership in other countries like Doctor Who.

For this year’s first set of rankings, we see the usual three at the top: The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and The Flash, and in their typical order (though sometimes The Flash and AHS swap spots). All three of these shows have experienced ratings declines this year–most notably TWD–but they are still performing well compared to the other shows on their networks. USA’s The Purge is in the Number 4 slot as it has done quite well in its first season run. Then we have a four-way tie at Number 6 with four CW shows, all of which started with a 0.5 rating for their season premieres. Black Lightning follows them and is performing okay vs. The CW’s average despite its year-over-year ratings drop. The CBS series God Friended Me is just slightly below its network’s average, but is still doing well considering it airs on highly competitive Sunday nights.




Syfy’s Z Nation is just slightly below that network’s benchmark and should be good for a sixth season nod if it does not slip any further. Star Wars: Resistance has not pulled in large viewership for its inaugural run, but merchandising may keep that one going. Van Helsing is looking a little weak in the rankings, but if the fans continue to support it on the social nets then it may get a fourth season. FOX’s The Gifted is well below its network’s average and will be moving to Bubble status if it does not improve. MacGyver may be close to the bottom, but it gets a break for being a Friday show and it is in the syndication stretch, so it should be safe for another year. NBC’s The Good Place takes up the bottom slot, but don’t write that one off. That network’s numbers are skewed by a few shows like This is Us and The Voice and that will start to even out as we get further in the season. The show is performing on par with the other Thursday comedies it airs with and should be okay if its ratings do not slip much more.

You can see the ratings roundup for this past week at this link, and be sure to stay tuned to the Scorecard throughout Fall to keep track of how your favorite shows are performing.

Scorecard rankings based on the ratings through October 14th:

Rank (PW) Series Net Std Avg Net Bench % Var Status
1 (n/a) The Walking Dead (O) AMC 2.24 0.50 347.0% Renewal Likely
2 (n/a) American Horror Story (O) FX 1.09 0.50 118.4% Renewed
3 (n/a) The Flash (O) CW 0.80 0.39 105.1% Renewal Likely
4 (n/a) The Purge (O) USA 0.44 0.30 46.1% Renewal Possible
5 (n/a) Manifest (O) NBC 1.87 1.43 30.4% Renewal Possible
6 (n/a) Charmed (O) CW 0.50 0.39 28.2% Renewal Possible
6 (n/a) Riverdale (O) CW 0.50 0.39 28.2% Renewal Likely
6 (n/a) Supergirl (O) CW 0.50 0.39 28.2% Renewal Possible
6 (n/a) Supernatural (O) CW 0.50 0.39 28.2% Renewal Possible
10 (n/a) Black Lightning (O) CW 0.40 0.39 2.6% Renewal Possible
11 (n/a) God Friended Me (O) CBS 1.07 1.09 -2.4% Renewal Possible
12 (n/a) Z Nation Syfy 0.16 0.17 -5.9% Renewal Possible
13 (n/a) Star Wars Resistance (O) Disney 0.09 0.10 -15.0% Renewal Possible
14 (n/a) Van Helsing Syfy 0.12 0.17 -29.4% Renewal Possible
15 (n/a) The Gifted (O) FOX 0.77 1.13 -32.4% Renewal Possible
16 (n/a) MacGyver (O) (F) CBS 0.73 1.09 -32.9% Renewal Possible
17 (n/a) The Good Place (O) NBC 0.90 1.43 -37.1% Renewal Possible

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 or co-owned by the network and/or a sister studio. (F) indicates the show airs on Friday when ratings expectations are lower on the broadcast networks.

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 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.

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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