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TV Ratings Survival Guide: Are Your Favorite New Shows in Danger?

Which shows are getting canceled?

Tim Surette

The sad fact of TV is that many new series will come into our lives in the fall, their hopes and dreams blinding them to the harsh reality: many will be canceled before the calendar turns. While we wish we could make the decisions about who stays and who goes, we all know that ratings drive the decision-making process, so let's dive into the numbers to see if we can determine which shows are going to stay put, and which are in grave danger.

I've compiled the ratings for all the new broadcast shows and divided the shows into tiers of security based on the data and other factors. The usual caveats apply here. On-demand and delayed viewing has reshaped how executives look at a show's success, but overnight ratings are still king and a measure of a show's popularity. Ratings are also not indicative of a show's quality, obviously. Numbers also don't tell the whole story; I can't predict when an exec throws a dart at a dartboard to figure out what's getting canceled and what isn't. But I will try!

So let's go crunch the numbers below and see which shows are in danger of cancellation, and which have the chance to stick around for a long time.

All ratings are in the 18-49 demo. All data collected from TV By the Numbers and TV Series Finale, which use Nielsen data. Ratings data is up to date through Oct. 31.


The Good Doctor

Liane Hentscher/ABC


Young Sheldon (CBS, Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 25): 17.21 million/3.82 rating

The Good Doctor (ABC, Mondays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 25): 11.22 million/2.19 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 2): 10.96 million/2.21 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 9): 10.69 million/2.00 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 16): 10.60 million/2.00 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 23): 10.39 million/1.80 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 30): 10.60 million/1.90 rating

Will & Grace (NBC, Thursdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 25): 10.19 million/3.0 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 2): 7.14 million/2.0 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 9): 6.72 million/1.8 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 16): 6.69 million/1.7 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 23): 6.79 million/1.8 rating

What the numbers mean: It's early, but the preview airing of Young Sheldon proved the power of The Big Bang Theory extends to anything stamped with The Big Bang Theory name. Mini Sheldon nearly hung on to all of Big Bang's audience, which is really saying something considering how massive that audience is. CBS has already given the comedy a full season, but the real test comes this week, when Young Sheldon returns for its actual run; lucky for it, it will have The Big Bang Theory in front of it. Barring viewers feeling jarred by the switch from multi-camera to single-camera formats and the slightly different comedic tone, expect more Young Sheldon (and maybe Young Leonard, Young Penny and Young Dr. Proton in the future).

You want a feel-good story? Look at the feel-good drama The Good Doctor, which no one expected to be at the top of the pile of new shows. The medical drama is actually outperforming This Is Us' first season through six episodes in terms of overall viewers, but the worrisome numbers are the ratings, which indicate an older-skewing audience. That means we don't have another Empire on our hands, which used word of mouth to increase its ratings as it went along, but probably more of a Bull, which stayed pretty steady with an older audience. Not that ABC cares that much; it's been starved for a successful non-Shonda 10pm drama for some time (it's doubling or nearly doubling the combination of Conviction and Quantico in the same slot last year), and strong DVR numbers push Good Doctor to a Top 3 show on all of broadcast! ABC has already ordered a full season, and the network should save us all the suspense and order the second season we all know is coming.

Will & Grace is humming along just fine, proving that some remakes are worth revisiting. The Season 9 premiere was NBC's highest-rated comedy since The Office series finale, and performed better than the Will & Grace Season 8 premiere. Not that Will & Grace was really looking over its shoulder at numbers, since it was already renewed for a tenth season before Season 9 premiered.

Natalie Alyn Lind, The Gifted

The Gifted


The Orville (Fox, Thursdays at 8/7c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 10): 8.56 million/2.71 rating
Episode 2 (Sept. 17): 6.63 million/2.17 rating
Episode 3 (Sept. 21): 4.06 million/1.10 rating
Episode 4 (Sept. 28): 3.70 million/1.05 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 5): 3.43 million/0.91 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 12): 3.37 million/0.99 rating
Episode 7 (Oct. 26): 4.18 million/1.21 rating

The Gifted (Fox, Mondays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 2): 4.90 million/1.48 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 9): 3.79 million/1.20 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 16): 3.46 million/1.10 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 23): 3.36 million/1.00 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 30): 3.43 million/1.10 rating

Ghosted (Fox, Sundays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 1): 3.58 million/1.36 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 8): 3.58 million/1.41 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 15): 2.41 million/1.00 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 22): 2.71 million/1.07 rating

9JKL (CBS, Mondays at 8:30/7:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 2): 8.21 million/1.56 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 9): 7.04 million/1.37 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 16): 6.66 million/1.20 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 23): 7.17 million/1.40 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 30): 5.05 million/0.80 rating

SEAL Team (CBS, Wednesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 27): 9.87 million/1.52 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 4): 8.39 million/1.22 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 11): 8.02 million/1.20 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 18): 7.11 million/1.10 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 25): 6.92 million/1.00 rating

What the numbers mean: The Orville's big drop between Episodes 2 and 3 was expected as Fox used football to launch the first two episodes of Seth MacFarlane's sci-fi comedy. But Fox has to be pleased with how this majorly risky play has performed on Thursdays since, particularly with that late bump for Episode 7 -- the best numbers since it moved to Thursday, which pushed it past Scandal -- that could be a byproduct of promotion from The World Series or some of the online word of mouth. That was all Fox needed to give the series a second season.

Ghosted and The Gifted are middle of the pack for Fox, which is actually a win for the network as it tries to recover from a disastrous 2016-2017. They're on their way to full seasons for the network, and I wouldn't be surprised if they stuck around while aging (and ratings challenged) vets like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Exorcist get chopped.

9JKL's numbers look really good... until they look bad. That drop-off (down almost 30 percent in viewers, more than 40 percent in ratings from the week before) on Oct. 30 is easily explained: it's the first time the series aired without The Big Bang Theory in front of it, as CBS' big comedy moves to Thursdays. The good start will make CBS give this a second look, but the drop will almost certainly continue and the 5 million viewers and 0.8 rating posted in its last episode are close to what Me, Myself and I was hovering around when it was canceled. While 9JKL did get three extra episodes to bump it up to 16, a full season and second season are in doubt.

Things look slightly better for SEAL Team, which is trending down but should bounce back a bit as it hit a low against the World Series in its most recent episode. DVR lift is pretty average for the series, but the fact that it's CBS' top-performing new drama (well, it's only beating Wisdom of the Crowd) and is home to David Boreanaz gives this show a little cushion. The performance of S.W.A.T., the fall's last new premiere, will give CBS more info it needs to make a decision, but I see a full season in its future.

Jake Matthews, Blake Lee, Natalia Tena, Jeremy Piven; Wisdom of the Crowd

Wisdom of the Crowd

Diyah Pera/CBS


Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS, Sundays at 8/7c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 1): 8.83 million/1.34 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 8): 7.84 million/0.98 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 15): 8.04 million/1.10 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 22): 7.70 million/1.07 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 29): 6.76 million/0.70 rating

The Mayor (ABC, Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 3): 4.08 million/1.22 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 10): 3.44 million/1.00 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 17): 2.96 million/0.81 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 24): 2.95 million/0.80 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 31): 2.37 million/0.70 rating

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC, Tuesdays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 26): 6.06 million/1.64 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 3): 4.82 million/1.15 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 10): 4.72 million/1.10 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 17): 4.36 million/1.00 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 24): 4.61 million/1.00 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 31): 3.56 million/0.80 rating

The Brave (NBC, Mondays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 25): 5.96 million/1.33 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 2): 5.17 million/1.10 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 9): 5.14 million/1.10 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 16): 4.97 million/1.00 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 23): 5.19 million/1.00 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 30): 4.55 million/0.80 rating

What the numbers mean: It shouldn't take crowdsourcing to figure out that Wisdom of the Crowd isn't working on Sundays. Sure, Sundays are tough with football and zombies, and the World Series made Episode 6 drop off significantly, but Wisdom of the Crowd's low numbers are affecting the rest of CBS' Sunday shows. More important than that, Wisdom is way down from what NCIS: LA did in the same slot last year (10.12 million/1.3 rating), and that likely has CBS tapping the cancellation button. Add to that a sexual harassment scandal with lead Jeremy Piven, and Wisdom may not even make it to December.

Critics like The Mayor, but viewers are calling for a veto. The series is dead last among ABC's comedies, falling off considerably from its lead-in black-ish. That means timing doesn't have much to do with the poor numbers; it means people are changing the channel when The Mayor comes on. ABC has had a remarkable run with new comedies over the past few seasons, but The Mayor is a departure from ABC's family-centric comedies, and it just doesn't fit.

NBC tried to tap into two trends (true crime and military dramas) with Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders and The Brave, and neither are impressing. Law & Order's late drop has a World Series-sized excuse, but The Brave's recent slip doesn't. Given Law & Order True Crime's built-in reset button as an anthology, it has a much better chance to return than The Brave, which is one more bad showing from dropping a tier on this list. Expect NBC to give True Crime another shot, but The Brave is a goner.

Matt Barr and Christina Ochoa, Valor​

Matt Barr and Christina Ochoa, Valor

Marl Hill, Mark Hill/The CW


Me, Myself & I (CBS, Mondays at 9:30/8:30c)
Episode 1 (Sept. 25): 7.46 million/1.63 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 2): 5.15 million/1.01 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 9): 4.33 million/0.90 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 16): 4.28 million/0.90 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 23): 4.65 million/0.90 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 30): 3.91 million/0.70 rating

Marvel's Inhumans (ABC, Fridays at 9/8c)
Episodes 1/2 (Sept. 29): 3.75 million/0.85 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 6): 2.78 million/0.75 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 13): 2.30 million/0.60 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 20): 1.96 million/0.42 rating
Episode 6 (Oct. 27): 2.05 million/0.50 rating

Ten Days in the Valley (ABC, Sundays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 1): 3.44 million/0.54 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 8): 2.59 million/0.41 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 15): 2.62 million/0.40 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 22): 2.20 million/0.39 rating

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC, Tuesdays at 10/9c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 3): 4.17 million/1.02 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 10): 3.61 million/0.80 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 17): 3.26 million/0.78 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 24): 2.87 million/0.70 rating
Episode 5 (Oct. 31): 2.68 million/0.60 rating

Dynasty (The CW, Wednesdays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 11): 1.26 million/0.33 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 18): 0.92 million/0.27 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 25): 0.72 million/0.20 rating

Valor (The CW, Mondays at 9/8c)
Episode 1 (Oct. 9): 1.20 million/0.29 rating
Episode 2 (Oct. 16): 0.99 million/0.23 rating
Episode 3 (Oct. 23): 0.88 million/0.19 rating
Episode 4 (Oct. 30): 0.95 million/0.20 rating

What the numbers mean: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the numbers here mean all these shows will be canceled, if they haven't already. CBS has pulled Me, Myself & I from the schedule, and ABC has banished Ten Days in the Valley to Saturday nights. They're dead.

Marvel's Inhumans could easily go down as the season's biggest flop, and it's definitely the season's worst investment after the big IMAX premiere. Even Marvel synergy with Disney-owned ABC won't save this, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. producers have to be feeling a little better about their show now. Barely beating it is Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, which falls victim to ABC's infamous Tuesday 10pm curse. Why'd you cancel Forever, ABC?

Even when CW shows do badly, they usually have some chatter about them that makes them relevant, but have you ever heard anyone talk about Dynasty or Valor? It's like those shows are ghosts. And as the shows on the bottom rung of the CW ladder (besides critical darling Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), they'll both be gone as soon as The CW is ready to bring in its midseason series.

What are your predictions?