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FOX Renew/Cancel Watch: A New Methodology on This Halloween




What Are Those Numbers Doing in the Table?

The numbers in the table are my way of integrating the ad rates into my Renew/Cancel predictions. As you've seen in a previous post, this season my ad rates and ratings correlation research will be presented in terms of relative ratings percentages to make the math simpler and the position of the show easier to track. I found this correlation to be pertinent to the fates of the low-to-mediocre-rated veteran shows last season (meaning shows that were in at least their 3rd season; sorry Mysteries of Laura), so while the data is also presented for younger shows, it won't be as pertinent. Also, extraneous factors such as syndication potential may outweigh first-run ratings for the better.

So when you look at The Last Man On Earth, which right now leans a renewal, you see a (73/71) in brackets. This means that The Last Man On Earth is currently at 73% of FOX's scripted average this season, and its "target" in a direct correlation between ad rates and ratings says it would need at least a 71% of the scripted average in order to be renewed. We'll see if the outcome is as pleasant as last season, but last season the formula correctly predicted Bones' and Sleepy Hollow's renewals, two predictions that I did not make.

Thanks to the new setup of Renew/Cancel Watch, each and every show will get a prediction explanation this time. Let's begin!

Why Are Empire, Lethal Weapon, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Gotham Certain to be Treated to Another Season?

Let's start with The Simpsons and Family Guy. Not only are they clearing their targets, but both are ratings hits for FOX. Plus, Family Guy probably already has leftover episodes and The Simpsons just doesn't get canceled. Lethal Weapon is by far FOX's top-rated freshmen show, and has even shown that it can stand on its own without the Empire halo, better than Rosewood did at least. Speaking of which, even though Empire currently isn't meeting its target, it's the #1 show on all of broadcast TV. It didn't have a sophomore crash, and even in its third season it is yet to flame out, so unless the writing gets really bad or some major actors randomly quit, this one should be in for the long haul. Finally, there's Gotham, which although is a 3rd season show that is not hitting its target, and most likely won't hit its target by the end of the season either, it will have 3 full seasons under its belt, and since it's still up there as a top-tier drama for FOX, Warner Brothers should have no problem making syndication $$ off of this show.

Why Are Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Lucifer Likely to be Treated to Another Season?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is oh-so-close to hitting its target, and since FOX doesn't even own the marginally-rated show, most signs would point to a cancellation. However, it does have strong syndication potential, with TBS buying the first five seasons for syndication, contingent on a fifth-season renewal. It wouldn't surprise me if FOX doesn't have it on its schedule next season, but I'm very willing to bet that it will see a fifth season somewhere. If not FOX, then maybe TBS, Hulu, or even SeeSo (a comedy streaming service owned by NBC Universal).

Lucifer holds almost all of Gotham's audience, if it doesn't hold on to all of it or even grow from it, and as we see is at a solid 82% of FOX's scripted average. This is another example of "doesn't hit the target, but ratings are good anyways". Looking at the numbers, FOX has bigger problems than canceling a show at more than 80% of their average.

Why Do Son of Zorn, The Last Man On Earth, Pitch, and The Exorcist Lean Treated to Another Season?

OK, so Son of Zorn's average right now may be frontloaded and football-inflated, and it may not have the best of retention, but at 114% of FOX's scripted average and a product of Lord Miller Productions, plus being on brand for them, I don't think it's dead just yet. If its average takes a plummet, or if its later-episode average ends up being super-low, then I'll change my mind, but for now its chances are looking decent. Not good, but decent.

The Last Man On Earth, at a 71% target, is just barely getting by right now. I imagine it still gets that streaming boost it got in its first season that helped it tremendously, and if there's one thing I learned from Bones, Sleepy Hollow, Nashville, and Castle, it's not to distrust the correlation. That could change after this season, but right now I'll let the numbers do the talking.

Though I did say that the correlation between ad rates and ratings doesn't really apply to freshmen series because they are no more than educated guesses, but what Pitch and The Exorcist have going for them is that advertisers are getting what they paid for: not that much, but they bought ad time on the cheap. The Exorcist may end up being axed thanks to an incredibly low ad rate that will almost certainly have to be raised next season to keep it financially viable (assuming it is already), but I think the ratings rises, the limited episode orders, and the fact that it airs on a Friday on FOX are all in its favor. I'll keep a very close eye on Pitch, especially considering airing amidst the World Series didn't help it at all, but for now I'm being optimistic. It may come down to how the midseason dramas perform, and there are a lot of them.

Why Do Rosewood and...New Girl? Lean Tricked to a Cancelation?

Looking at the numbers, Rosewood is *barely* doing better than The Exorcist...and it airs on a Thursday, after having been nurtured the entirety of last season. FOX isn't too known for canceling shows after two full seasons, but I think this could be another Touch situation: a show that did pretty decently had pretty poor retention out of its massive lead-in in its first season but didn't drop too much when its lead-in wasn't new, but dropped 67% y2y once moved away and to a tougher time slot (Fridays). Granted, Rosewood isn't down as much as Touch, but it is down 57%, and I think it'll be lucky if it ends up down less than 50% y2y. It doesn't do particularly better in the younger demographics and isn't heavily DVR'd, and unlike Pitch, which I think has a niche enough audience that it could end up being a Friday staple if it gets another go-around, Rosewood is simply too weak a show and didn't benefit from being nurtured in its first season.

New Girl is probably one of the more surprising predictions in this edition's table, but I'll explain: it's an older show now, and the ad rate and rating correlation probably applies to it now more than ever, being deep into its veteran years and a very middling performer, if that. It didn't take long at all for it to go fractional, and I would argue that it's underperforming a bit this season. Its ad rate may be boosted a bit by a relatively young skew, and it's still doing a solid 84% league average rating in A18-34, so it's not totally out and could move up to leans a renewal, but once again, the numbers will do the talking for me, and I simply think it may be too far below its target to be renewed. Plus, it no longer has much lead-in power and based on the shows they have now and the ones in development, they appear to be headed more after the male demographic in their comedy department.

Why Is Scream Queens Likely to be Tricked to a Cancelation?

Last season, I get it. It had great C3 boosts, people streamed it, it got a ton of social media buzz...but at least last season its L+SD ratings were mediocre enough. It still gets that young skew, which could work out in its favor, but even then, that A18-34 demo rating being at 72%, albeit a huge jump from the 50% of the league average in A18-49, is still very paltry, with it still being nearly a flop in 18-34. And total viewers don't really matter, but I do think we should just stop and recognize the fact that it's currently averaging 25% of the league average in total viewers. 25%. Which isn't totally bad, that's 6th place on The CW. (sarcasm detector on high)

What do you think of these predictions and the methodology? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to share this article with your fellow ratings friends!