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411’s TV Renewal Predictions: Manifest Starts Strong, 9-1-1 Returns Big

October 1, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Manifest - Josh Dallas

Welcome to 411’s official renewal predictions for the 2018 – 2019 television season! I’m Jeremy Thomas and we’re back for a third year or predicting which shows will live to see another season. The fall season began its return this past week, and we’re going to take a weekly look at what’s likely to get renewed as well as what you’re not very likely to see come back next year.

This is going to be a pretty short and sweet column each week. I’ll be updating my predictions every Sunday if there’s anything that warrants a move.

How It Works

The categories are pretty self-explanatory: Renewed, Likely Renewal, Bubble (could go either way), Likely Cancellation and Cancelled. It is worth mentioning that some shows will be moved into “Cancelled” status before an official announcement; networks are generally loathe to announce cancellations but there are clear signs when a show has been cancelled. These include a lack of additional episodes ordered for a first season, main cast members joining other shows or pilots and statements made by members of the cast or crew.

A show’s rating in the 18 – 49 demographic generally determines renewal, as that is the demographic that advertisers pay for (and thus determines the show’s profit margin). The 18 – 49 demo rating will be included after the show in the list. However, it’s not as simple as “X show has a higher rating than Y show, so it will be renewed.” There are certain expectations regarding a show’s timeslot; a 10 PM show can easily survive with a lower rating than a 9 PM show. Fridays tend to have lower ratings expectations and a show that is produced by the network’s production company is more likely to be renewed than one that the network has no stake in. International and streaming distributions can influence some shows to survive, but that is by no means a saving grace.

This Week’s Highlights

With several shows making their official premieres in the last seven days, the landscape has begun to take shape for the upcoming fall season. That said, it is still early on and predictions can and will fluctuate rather wildly at first until things settle down. This holds especially true for freshman shows, which can often debut very well as curious viewers check them out but then drop like a rock as the casual potential fans leave for other series. Returning shows are expected to have a little more stability, though even they can start off a new season well before slipping down to a more consistent number.

Thus far, most shows will still be in the “Too Early to Tell” category because — well, we don’t have enough data to see how they will do this season. There are some exceptions, but they mostly don’t have much to do with the premiere ratings. Instead, potential syndication is in play here. In television, “stripped syndication” is a term used for a show that can be sold into syndication with enough episodes to air throughout the week without having to start over for over four months. That episode count comes in at eighty-eight, a mark most shows hit in their third season. Some series with seasons of less than twenty-two episodes don’t necessarily apply. That said, even in terms of those shows a third season cancellation is considered unusual at best. A complete crash in the ratings could still kill shows about to hit stripped syndication, but it’s unlikely.

* ABC

ABC has a lot of rebuilding to do after a disappointing season and tumultuous summer. The network saw several shows fall apart in the ratings last year and relatively few successes. And its true ratings phenomenon was Roseanne, which was cancelled and turned into the spin-off The Conners after Roseanne Barr’s now-infamous racist tweet.

Luckily, the Alphabet Network still has a couple of shows it can rely on. Among them is American Housewife, which was a solid performer for its two first seasons. Entering its third season now, it is very likely to be renewed due to the syndication rule. The remnants of Shondaland are also paying some dividends — at least, Grey’s Anatomy is. While How to Get Away with Murder came back to mild ratings, Anatomy started off fairly strong and, assuming it doesn’t have some unforeseeable second-week crash, should end up in Likely Renewed by next week. Its Wednesday night sitcom lineup is still good as well, even as they show their age.

As for the new shows, we’ve only seen A Million Little Things and Single Parents thus far. Neither are what I would call “hits,” but they’re not particularly in trouble either. The only other premiere we have is The Good Doctor, which worryingly dropped to a 1.3 after averaging a 1.78 throughout all last season. The medical drama is no longer a breakout hit, but if it can hold on well in successive weeks it should be fine.

* CBS

CBS’s biggest surprise came not long before the season started, when the network announced in August that The Big Bang Theory was coming to an end. This puts the network in an awkward spot. Big Bang was CBS’s biggest hit by far, and contributed to much of the Eye’s 18 – 49 demographic audience. Most CBS procedurals like NCIS skew much older. And while that is definitely a brand identity, it’s not one that is necessarily attractive to advertisers.

That said, NCIS remains a solid performer even in the desired demo. It also provides something to keep the network going while it tries out some new shows. Based on the new premieres so far, it will probably need another year. FBI — yes, another law enforcement procedural — started off okay. But its much-vaunted Magnum P.I. reboot fell flat with a 1.2 demo rating, and the Murphy Brown revival was even worse at a 1.1. These would be fine for a show returning from last season, but are worrying for a new arrival due to those shows’ tendency to drop.

Add in the fact that SWAT’s second season started at a not-good 0.7 and there’s a lot to make CBS’ executives nervous. Even the bright spots come with caveats. Young Sheldon looks good in raw numbers with a 1.65 out of two episodes, but last season it never dropped below a 1.77. And its two shows ready for syndication are in iffy spots, with both Bull and MacGyver starting below a 1.0. They remain likely to be renewed because both shows had serious stability last season; if they can retain those numbers, they’ll be fine. We’ll see if that happens.

* NBC

NBC was the strongest overall network last year, and that isn’t changing. This Is Us remains a juggernaut, even if it dropped by a bit. And while The Good Place isn’t a ratings phenomenon, its short order and passionate fanbase have generally helped it to stable ratings. Both shows are in their third seasons, but won’t be near the standard episode count by the end of the season. Still, the numbers look good enough that the season three rule pushes them into Likely Renewed range. Meanwhile, the network also has the sole already-renewed show in Will & Grace, which is already a go for its eleventh season.

NBC has a habit of launching a successful series on the back of The Voice, and this season that is Manifest. The twisty mystery-drama got off to a great start with a 2.2, putting it as the rare show to start off in Likely Renewed based on its first episode. Could it crash hard and end up in danger of cancellation? Of course, and this week’s rating could change the situation hugely. But the odds are that the show should be able to retain at least enough of its audience to get a new season.

While it didn’t hit Manifest, numbers, medical drama New Amsterdam also had a very good start with a 1.8. I was on the verge of putting it in Likely Renewed, but a heavy drop could hurt it much more than it would Manifest. If it holds well this week, I expect to see it bumped up. The net’s Chicago trilogy started off decently in a single-night viewing block. They aren’t quite hits anymore, but they are a reliabile franchise that can always do a crossover to spike ratings. The sole problem is I Feel Bad, a new sitcom that has failed to score either good reviews or good ratings. The show started with a 0.95, and low marks from critics and viewers suggest big falls are coming. It could easily be the first post-premiere cancellation of the season, but we’ll see.

* FOX

FOX is in a really weird place for predictions this season. The reason is simple: by this time next year, Fox Television will be a Disney subsidiary and the network appears to be getting a bit more into live entertainment. As such, it’s tough to truly know what might happen. However, it’s hard to deny that 9-1-1 is likely to come back after a strong start. Its 2.1 start is better than any of its season one numbers, with the caveat that it was a midseason replacement (which typically perform weaker than fall shows). Season one had a ton of stability so it’s likely that season two will as well. This is an easy renewal prediction, even this early.

The rest of FOX’s schedule isn’t so clear. Star is in season three and should get a fourth season thanks to syndication, and Empire is still doing good enough numbers to be a likely renewal. But what about Lethal Weapon? The show is also in its third season, and a fourth would give it very close to the required syndication numbers. But the show’s end-of-season drama around Clayne Crawford’s departure has it in a more precarious place, and a 0.8 premiere is not encouraging. It could still easily be renewed, but I’m not confident quite yet. Meanwhile, The Gifted starts off on the Bubble after a 0.9 premiere. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s also not the best start.

There is better news on the sitcom front. Last Man Standing had a very big return, though I’m not ready to give it a Likely Renewed status yet. The Tim Allen show rode some waves of controversy due to (inaccurate) allegations that it was cancelled by ABC because of Allen’s conservative views, and that could have inflated the premiere. Subsequent weeks will determine its survival, but this is a good start. Rel began very big, but that was after a major NFL game in an early preview last month and so we’ll need more data there too. The Cool Kids is in a good spot but was helped by Last Man Standing being a lead-in. If that show drops, this one might.

* The CW

The CW has no news to discuss in terms of ratings. As has been the case with previous seasons, the youngest of the broadcast networks is waiting to be the last to premiere their shows. That means that everything is up in the air at this time — with the exception of iZombie, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. All three shows were renewed in May, but for final seasons. So we already have those in the canceled status.

One thing that will be interesting to see with CW is how they perform on Sundays. This is the first year the network has aired new shows on Sundays, and they’ve decided to go with two big shows. The first is Supergirl, which has been a consistent performer as an estranged part of the Arrowverse. And the second is the much-hyped Charmed reboot. It’s a good pairing, but it’s hard to see how the shows will fare on what is always a high-stakes night of TV.

ABC

Prediction Record:

0-0

Renewed:
None

Likely Renewal:
* American Housewife (1.20)

Bubble:
None

Likely Cancellation:
None

Cancelled:
None

Too Early to Call:
* Grey’s Anatomy (1.90)
* Modern Family (1.60)
* The Goldbergs (1.40)
* Single Parents (1.30)
* The Good Doctor (1.30)
* A Million Little Things (1.10)
* How to Get Away with Murder (0.80)
* Station 19 (Premieres October 4th)
* Fresh Off the Boat (Premieres October 5th)
* Speechless (Premieres October 5th)
* Black-ish (Premieres October 16th)
* Splitting Up Together (Premieres October 16th)
* The Conners (Premieres October 16th)
* The Kids Are Alright (Premieres October 16th)
* The Rookie (Premieres October 16th)
* For the People (Premieres Midseason)
* Whiskey Cavalier (Premieres Midseason)

CBS

Prediction Record:

0-0

Renewed:
None

Likely Renewal:
* Bull (0.90)
* MacGyver (0.70)

Bubble:
None

Likely Cancellation:
None

Cancelled:
* Big Bang Theory (2.35) – Final Season Already Announced

Too Early to Call:
* Young Sheldon (1.65)
* NCIS (1.40)
* FBI (1.30)
* Mom (1.30)
* Magnum P.I. (1.20)
* Murphy Brown (1.10)
* NCIS: New Orleans (1.00)
* Blue Bloods (0.90)
* Hawaii Five-0 (0.90)
* NCIS: Los Angeles (Premieres September 30th)
* God Friended Me (Premieres September 30th)
* Happy Together (Premieres October 1st)
* The Neighborhood (Premieres October 1st)
* Criminal Minds (Premieres October 3rd)
* Seal Team (Premieres October 3rd)
* Madam Secretary (Premieres October 7th)
* Instinct (Premieres Midseason)
* Life in Pieces (Premieres Midseason)
* Man With a Plan (Premieres Midseason)

NBC

Prediction Record:

0-0

Renewed:
None

Likely Renewal:
* This Is Us (3.00)
* Manifest (2.20)
* The Good Place (1.00)

Bubble:
* I Feel Bad (0.95)

Likely Cancellation:
None

Cancelled:
None

Too Early to Call:
* New Amsterdam (1.80)
* Chicago Fire (1.30)
* Chicago Med (1.20)
* Chicago PD (1.20)
* Law & Order: SVU (1.10)
* Superstore (Premieres October 4th)
* Will & Grace (Premieres October 4th)
* Blindspot (Premieres October 12th)
* Midnight, Texas (Premieres October 26th)
* Good Girls (Premieres Midseason)
* AP Bio (Premieres Midseason)
* The Blacklist (Premieres Midseason)

FOX

Prediction Record:

0-0

Renewed:

Likely Renewal:
* 9-1-1 (2.10)
* Empire (1.90)
* Star (1.50)

Bubble:
* The Gifted (0.90)

Likely Cancellation:
None

Cancelled:
* Gotham (Premieres Midseason) – Final Season Previously Announced

Too Early to Call:
* Rel (1.90)
* Last Man Standing (1.80)
* The Cool Kids (1.50)
* The Resident (1.10)
* Lethal Weapon (0.80)
* Bob’s Burgers (Premieres September 30th)
* Family Guy (Premieres September 30th)
* The Orville (Premieres September 30th)
* The Simpsons (Premieres September 30th)

The CW

Prediction Record:

0-0

Renewed:
None

Likely Renewal:
None

Bubble:
None

Likely Cancellation:
None

Cancelled:
* Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Premieres October 12th) – Final Season Previously Announced
* iZombie (Premieres Midseason) – Final Season Previously Announced
* Jane the Virgin (Premieres Midseason) – Final Season Previously Announced

Too Early to Call:
* The Flash (Premieres October 9th)
* Black Lightning (Premieres October 9th)
* Riverdale (Premieres October 10th)
* All-American (Premieres October 10th)
* Supernatural (Premieres October 11th)
* Dynasty (Premieres October 12th)
* Supergirl (Premieres October 14th)
* Charmed (Premieres October 14th)
* Arrow (Premieres October 15th)
* Legends of Tomorrow (Premieres October 22nd)
* Legacies (Premieres October 25th)
* The 100 (Premieres Midseason)

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