In this thread we're going to cancel (or renew!) your favorite show


#1

I kinda think this thread is a better place to put cancel and renewal discussion of shows, since when a show goes fractional and is destined for cancellation, it feels like thread-shitting to put that stuff in a thread of fans who enjoy the show.

This stuff interests me though. I think one of the main reasons is that we live in an era of serialized television where even multi-season or series-long story arcs are fairly common. I have only so much time to give to television, too, so I hate to get hooked on a show and find out it got the axe at a single season, and that nothing will be resolved, or that story lines will disappear for a perfunctory resolution.

On the other side of the coin, it’s also cool to see how renewals can breathe life into the creative process of a television show, and that stuff is fair game here, too. Right?

And if you doubt the power of network executives and the cancellation/renewal dance for shows on the bubble and how that effects the creative process, Parks & Rec exists as Exhibit A, a show that frequently pulled out all stops on perhaps a half dozen episodes that could’ve been series finales over the years.

It’s also timely. We’re about a month away from Up Fronts from the networks. That’s where the Fall Season is unveiled, and folks accept the reality that Constantine really was cancelled back in November of 2014. ;)

Sources of info:

TV By The Numbers (The Cancel Bear is the gold standard for predictions)
Entertainment Weekly
Uproxx (don’t laugh, they just posted some pretty accurate predictions)
Deadline (Usually pretty bad; very prone to fan service and susceptible to PR hype)


#2

Things to know…

As of April of 2015, ratings are still king. Good ol Nielsen! Those are still the numbers by which advertising rates are determined.

The other big influencer on whether your favorite show stays on the air: syndication. 80 episodes appears to be the magic number for syndication gold. What does that mean? Mostly it means that shows that may be tanking in the ratings during their third season–but have a full season order for that third year–will likely get a fourth season for syndication purposes, regardless of how awful those ratings slide. See, for instance, Elementary or Nashville or The Mindy Project. All have had dreadful numbers during this past season. All are likely to get renewed for a fourth year anyway.

The corollary of that syndication game is that once a show gets to 80 episodes, it better keep (or start) to put up good ratings numbers, or it may be dead in the water.

Stuff that doesn’t matter:

–95% of what producers, actors, or network executives say, unless it’s at an up front or about a contract.
–Fan “Save our show” petitions
–Streaming numbers

Other stuff that does matter:

–Cost to produce (expensive shows get the axe faster if they don’t put up numbers)
–Production company (network-produced shows get a longer chance to try to survive)
–Types of shows (Networks have come to love comedy/drama block programming, so this can create a situation where renewals of certain shows put others in good shape while elevating the risk to cancellation of other shows.)


#3

This is as good a thread as anywhere for this:

I’m still pissed that My Name Is Earl got cancelled, and the season 4 cliffhanger never resolved. Damn I liked that show.

I guess this is as close as it’s going to get, from greg Garcia’s Reddit AMA:

I was worried about doing a cliffhanger but I asked NBC if it was safe to do one at the end of the season and they told me it was. I guess it wasn’t.
I had always had an ending to Earl and I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to see it happen. You’ve got a show about a guy with a list so not seeing him finish it is a bummer. But the truth is, he wasn’t ever going to finish the list. The basic idea of the ending was that while he was stuck on a really hard list item he was going to start to get frustrated that he was never going to finish it. Then he runs into someone who had a list of their own and Earl was on it. They needed to make up for something bad they had done to Earl. He asks them where they got the idea of making a list and they tell him that someone came to them with a list and that person got the idea from someone else. Earl eventually realizes that his list started a chain reaction of people with list and that he’s finally put more good into the world than bad. So at that point he was going to tear up his list and go live his life. Walk into the sunset a free man. With good karma.


#4

And so, this spring there’s a fascinating show fight going on with CBS. Their quick renewal of Madam Secretary (despite terrible ratings) creates a pretty crazy dynamic there.

With that show renewed and CSI a dead show walking, that means that there’s probably room for 2 drama series renewals on CBS from three shows on the bubble. Those three shows are Hawaii Five-O, The Good Wife, and Blue Bloods. One is exceedingly likely to be cancelled. The other two are then exceedingly likely to be renewed.

To my own taste, The Good Wife is the show that deserves to live…but it has the worst ratings of the three.

Shows that are definitely gone from CBS:

The Millers
The McCarthys (Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to have two shows about dysfunctional families on the schedule with “The M…s”?)
Battle Creek (I had hopes, but this ended up pretty bad)
CSI (it hasn’t been dumped yet, but all that really remains is pulling the sheet over its head.)


#5

That kinda stuff is why this thread exists, and I agree.


#6

Game of Thrones has network Execs pushing for a longer run than the show runners. Black Sails is already renewed for Season 3 and Outlander is filming Season 2 as I write. Agents of SHIELD isn’t just doing well in the eyes of ABC/Disney, it’s actually getting a spin-off. Vikings soldiers on as does Homeland - at least for another year. Star Wars REBELS is, I suspect, good for a long, long time. Orphan Black seems set for a Season 4 as well - so even that’s all good.

The Arrow and The Flash are doing so well, The CW is throwing in with a Hawkgirl show. Hawkgirl, FFS.

True Detective may not survive this 2nd season, but then again, I am not sure any of us care yet. It’s not a show, it’s simply a title - merely a brand wannabe. Still, HBO is pretty thin after the Game of Thrones tentpole is taken out of the equation. And if HBO can keep Treme around for as long as they did, surely they’ll keep True Detective for at least another 2 seasons past the one to come, simply because.

So is there anything for me to care about that is in doubt? Not really. But I’ll throw some hope that Syfy’s “The Expanse” is something that we might care about. We all know that anything to do with Space on Syfy is a hard sell. So, there’s that.


#7

Big Brother might be cancelled in a few years max. That sucks as it is my favorite show.

I am glad the Arrow and the Flash are doing so well though.


#8

I am frankly stunned and surprised that Big Brother is sill on.

Philosophical question: with the likely decimation of “secondary” cable channels and the rise of Netflix et al, how much will the 80-episode number for syndication matter? The oft-cited Firefly still does well on Netflix and Bluray, I think.


#9

It’s a good question. I imagine though that number of episodes and even good ol’ Nielsen numbers factor into the value for some series in negotiations with the big streamers for some shows. For studios that package a group of series to Netflix, may also be a factor at present.


#10

I hope Amazon cancels Transparent. I really loved it, but it felt like such a perfect story as is. Who knows though. Maybe they do have enough for a second season. That is one of the reasons I like shows like True Detective and American Horror Story. Get in, tell the story you want to tell and get out.


#11

Good choice. I just finished watching Raising Hope, also by Greg Garcia, and I am disappointed it was cancelled. It’s not that surprising though, given the ratings trend. I think a fifth season with Jeffrey Tambor added to the mix would’ve been fun.

Also: Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 had an excellent two seasons, and is worth a watch on Netflix. Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek both kept the show worth watching.


#12

I loved Raising Hope but it really went down hill in the last season. By the end it seemed like they were pretty clearly out of ideas for what to do next. They married Jimmy off, gave him a nice house and a good life. For a show about a family of losers doing their best, having them succeed just doesn’t work. It needed to either be rebooted somehow or go in a different direction (which I guess is what they would have tried with Jeffrey Tambor).


#13

I am more surprised Survivor is still on that Big Brother honestly. Ratings and interest have been on decline for a longer time than Big Brother which has just started the last 2-3 seasons.


#14

It’s not exactly a Hawkgirl show, it’s a spinoff from Arrow and Flash with established characters from those shows, oh and also it has Hawkgirl in it. I think the initial announcement came with the news that Brandon Routh (Atom/Ray Palmer), Caity Lotz* (Sarah Lance/first “Black Canary”), and the Captain Cold guy from the Flash would be involved, and Hawkgirl’s involvement was announced later. This week there was even a rumor that the show was actually going to be called The Atom, but that got mostly shot down by the show runners on twitter.

*I’m two episodes behind on Arrow, but unless there are some big revelations there, no, I don’t know exactly how Caity Lotz’ involvement will work.


#15

There must be something wrong with me because most of the shows I like are not on the bubble this season. The new shows like Gotham and The Flash have done quite well. Person of Interest is still pulling in 9-10 million viewers a week. My guilty pleasure show, Castle is doing fine. Agents of Shield has found is groove and is a really good show now. Really the only bubble show I would be disappointed about being cancelled is Constantine. In spite of the Bear listing as cancelled, it hasn’t been officially and theres still hope for renewal in some form, somewhere. The only other new show I would like to see get some more life is Backstrom. Its developed into a pretty decent procedural with an interesting cast. It doesn’t seem to be catching on though, so its likely doomed.


#16

It’s a good question. I imagine though that number of episodes and even good ol’ Nielsen numbers factor into the value for some series in negotiations with the big streamers for some shows. For studios that package a group of series to Netflix, may also be a factor at present

I’d have though Nielsen numbers in particular would be almost completely irrelevant for the likes of Netflix, given how poorly they correlate with interest among the types of people who use Netflix. Indeed, it could work against the studios, if they’re undervaluing low Nielsen, high engagement shows (eg Community) and overvaluing stuff like NCIS. Number of episodes probably does matter more (I seem to remember the Friends negotiations being described in terms of cost per episode).


#17

I base it on what Netflix does, not what they say. They’ve had chances to go after Community, but didn’t…but they did get stuff like New Girl and Happy Endings which had much less “high engagement” (however the hell you measure that metric) than Community would, but higher Nielsen performance.

Shows seem to end up on Netflix (or not) for a myriad of reasons and variables, but they all do seem concrete and related to contracts, studio deals, and network first-refusal buyouts where affordable.

And with that being said, Netflix likely doesn’t care about the ratings as much as the networks do, but their actions say that they do indeed care as far as it goes. It’s a measurable. Measurables make businesspeople happy.


#18

I’m sad to hear the Mindy Project isn’t doing well in the ratings. It’s definitely my favorite comedy now that Parks & Rec is off the air.

Also, thanks for posting that excerpt about My Name is Earl. I loved that show. Though I did feel like it went on for a little too long. That sounds like a great ending, but it should have happened earlier. But I guess that’s the curse of a show that gets popular, at least initially. They want to keep it going rather than bring a good story to a close at a more natural pace. I never missed an episode of Earl, but it felt like it was stretched way past where it should have been.


#19

The good news about The Mindy Project is that syndication likely gives it a fourth season.


#20

I base it on what Netflix does, not what they say. They’ve had chances to go after Community, but didn’t…but they did get stuff like New Girl and Happy Endings which had much less “high engagement” (however the hell you measure that metric) than Community would, but higher Nielsen performance.

Well they did go after Community, just not the new season*. And, as far as commissions go, they did revive Arrested Development.

And with that being said, Netflix likely doesn’t care about the ratings as much as the networks do, but their actions say that they do indeed care as far as it goes. It’s a measurable. Measurables make businesspeople happy.

I’m not saying they don’t care about ratings. Quite the opposite. I’m saying they don’t (or at least have less reason to) care about Neilsens.

  • For all I know they did go after it, but obviously if they did, not hard enough to win it.