Fall 2015 TV Wrapup

This cat is very interested in what I have to say.
This cat is very interested in what I have to say.

The economics of TV fascinates me.  Starting with the counter-intuitive, we-the-viewers, aren’t the consumer, we are the product.  Networks sell advertising space based on how many people watch a program.  The more people watch a show, the more money the network makes – In 2014, it cost $24.76 per thousand viewers for a 30-second spot (source).  Networks therefore, don’t have an incentive to make good programs, they have an incentive to make and air shows that people will watch.  Those two aren’t always one and the same (Firefly fans will tell you that the first chance they get – See?  I did it right there.)

The real Holy Grail for TV shows, however, is syndication.  Syndication deals start at 88 episodes; networks try everything to get their shows there.  Even renewing poorly rated shows to get there (e.g. Nashville was one of ABC’s lowest rated shows last year, but because a fourth season meant it would reach the magical 88-episode mark ABC renewed it.)

The problem for most shows is that getting to the fourth season (or really even the third season) is very difficult.  Broadcast TV ratings are declining (and have been declining for many years now), inching closer and closer to cable TV ratings.  The median rating this season for a scripted network show is 1.4 – a rating that would have called for a show to be cancelled in prior years, yet now half of aired network shows fall below that number.  Further, cable shows like The Walking Dead have just as many people watching (or more) as any show on broadcast TV.  [Cable TV has a different model than broadcast – they get subscriber fees so they can tolerate far lower ratings than broadcast TV.]

This decline in ratings led me to wonder if broadcast TV would have to change its model.  Would they need to start airing cheaper shows (i.e. more reality TV)?  More commercial breaks?  Then I went and looked at networks financial statements – the answer is HA!  No, they don’t need to change a thing.  They all are making billions of dollars per year.

Why am I spending so much time talking about the economics behind TV?  Because the fall premieres are all but finished (Chicago Med still needs to premiere, but as a spinoff, it should earn near the same ratings as the other Chicago-based series), it is time to see what shows will survive to see a season two.  Below is a chart of my estimates of the chance that each new show is renewed.  I have included my current estimated chance of renewal , my estimate after I watching the Pilot episode, what I thought based on the trailer alone, and a brief comment explaining my rationale.

Show Current After Pilot Trailer Only Comment
Blindspot 80% 75% 75% Getting about a 50% bump from The Voice
Rosewood 80% 60% 45% Getting about a 100% bump from Empire
Supergirl 75% 80% 50% Only two episodes so far, plenty of time to fall back to Earth.  Still the ratings are pretty solid
Chicago Med 70% NA 70% Hasn’t premiered yet, but give the other Chicago (branch of service), I expect it will premiere in the high 1’s and settle in around 1.2-1.6
Life in Pieces 70% 55% 80% A cushy spot behind Big Bang Theory will probably propel this to renewal (just don’t move it anywhere else in the schedule)
Best Time Ever 60% 60% 60% Getting lower than average ratings, but this show probably doesn’t cost a lot to produce
Limitless 60% 60% 70% A consistent performer in the 10 o’clock hour, but ratings aren’t making it a smash
Quantico 60% 60% 60% Ratings rise from the dreadful Blood & Oil give this a solid chance to get renewed
Dr. Ken 55% 50% 10% Again, they don’t need to air good shows, just ones that people watch.  People are watching this for some unknown reason.
The Muppets 50% 50% 70% Show runners fired – a bad sign for the show, but maybe people will come back if they go back to the Muppet Variety show
Grandfathered 50% 50% 50% Received a full season order, but ratings still have its future in doubt
Heroes Reborn 50% 50% 50% Ratings might need a small bounce.
Scream Queens 40% 20% 20% FOX has some serious problems if it needs to renew this – as poor as the ratings have been, it is middle of the pack for FOX
The Grinder 40% 50% 40% Also received a full season order; its ratings are worse than Grandfathered
Code Black 30% 45% NA CBS has a lot of veteran shows that may get the axe.  That would be the only reason the show gets saved.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 25% 40% 80% Even by CW standards, the ratings on this are low.  I can’t see them renewing this, but The CW has much lower standards of renewal
Wicked City 10% NA 25% Only Truth Be Told has lower ratings
Angel From Hell 10% NA 55% Premier pushed to February – not a sign of confidence in the show.
Minority Report 1% 30% 30% Already had its episode order cut.  This show isn’t coming back
The Player 1% 5% 35% Episode order cut
Truth Be Told 1% 1% 10% Episode order cut + set torn down
Blood & Oil 1% 20% 65% Episode order cut

This is the last post on the Fall 2015 TV season until May, when cancellations come down and I’ll review my predictions.


One thought on “Fall 2015 TV Wrapup

  1. We’re staying with Blindspot and Limitless in drama.

    For comedy, we’ll stay with the Muppets (but I think this gets cancelled) and Grandfathered. The best new show of the year, though? The Grinder.


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