Shows that have received full-season orders: Speechless, Designated Survivor, This Is Us, Kevin Can Wait, Bull, MacGyver
Shows that are canceled: Notorious has had its order cut and will likely end after episode 9
Now let’s talk about why.
We’ve discussed where ratings come from, but now let’s talk about how to read them. First, you need a source. When I worked in production offices, we would get charts from the research department every day that listed the household and key demo ratings for all primetime shows on the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW). Unfortunately, charts like that aren’t easy to come by outside of production. These days, I read the Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed for ratings everyday, which means I only get the key demo numbers, but that should be good enough. Let’s look at today’s report on last night’s ratings. Here are the paragraphs on CBS:
The Big Bang Theory made an even transition from Mondays, topping the night with a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49 before the premiere of The Great Indoors. The latest multi-cam effort from CBS opened with a 2.0 rating in the key demo and 9.3 million viewers. Among adults 18-49, it marked a slight uptick from the time slot’s year-ago showing.
Mom returned with a steady 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, while Life in Pieces dipped to a 1.5 rating in the key demo in its new time slot. At 10 p.m., Pure Genius made a rather unassuming debut with a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers. For its first same-day showing, it tied ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder and NBC’s The Blacklist in the key demo.
Let’s put it in chart form:
Now, a sharp drop-off like you see after The Big Bang Theory isn’t great, but these numbers are all within the acceptable range. Honestly, Big Bang Theory is a huge show and it would be unfair to expect the other shows to keep up. You always hope, as a network/studio, but you have to be realistic. Now let’s look at ABC:
Elsewhere on ABC, Grey’s Anatomy earned an even 2.2 rating among adults 18-49. Notorious, now with the season’s first shortened order, earned just a 0.8 rating.
We already know that at 10pm, How to Get Away With Murder got a 1.2, because that was in the CBS paragraph. (It can take practice to be able to read these.) So the ABC chart would look like this:
Oof. See that dip in the middle? Networks HATE that dip in the middle. You can write off gentle inclines or decreases as people becoming more interested in your network and sticking around or as everyone going to bed (or, in network-speak, you retained your lead-in or lead-out), but dips in the middle are death. That’s why Notorious has a cut order. On top of that anything below a 1.0 really isn’t acceptable for one of the big three networks. Now let’s chart CBS, ABC and NBC all at once:
Here you can clearly see that CBS won the night overall. ABC started strong and then dropped a lot, while NBC built slightly. I’m surprised to see NBC dipped for The Good Place, but it wasn’t a lot and I like that show so hopefully someone there believes in it. (This is also how I feel about the numbers for Pitch.) As always, when you’re not the executive in charge and you’re reading this data, the answer to all questions becomes, “we need more data!” Because until an answer comes from the bigwigs, there is not a clear answer. But hopefully this provides some good hints.