Despite its age, Psych continues to march on, delivering stronger than expected ratings with its season 7 premiere as well as a pleasing and acclaimed Clue-themed 100th episode that also garnered huge numbers. Now, USA is rewarding the veteran series with an order for five additional scripts on top of the original – and shorter than usual – order of eight. Will season 8 be the end of Psych?

Many seem to think that the writing is on the wall thanks to that initial short order (a quick renewal prior to season 7 which show creator Steve Franks asked for in an effort to retain his cast and crew), and co-star Maggie Lawson’s potential new show (she shot a pilot but can return to Psych for 5 episodes next season if the pilot is picked up) but Franks doesn’t seem like he’s quite ready to close up shop.

In an interview with Variety back in March, Franks said that he would “keep doing it until they push me out the door.”

Now, things change, and if a show creator’s desire to keep a show going stood as the sole determination for when a series went off the air, we’d probably be getting ready for the 200th episode of Firefly – but that said, Psych‘s ratings are still going (relatively) strong for a basic cable scripted drama (2.8 million viewers last week) and beyond that, the show is an established force on social media.

An early adopter of courting viewers through Twitter with accounts for their writing staff and fan outreach from the show’s stars before and during episodes, Psych has bolstered their presence with events like the “Hashtag Killer” and deciding the ending of the 100th episode via a fan vote that generated more than 150,000 votes across all platforms.

What does that mean to USA as it prepares to foot the bill for another season of Psych? Well, it means that the show clearly has viewers who not only love the chemistry between James Roday and Dule Hill’s Shawn and Gus, but who are socially engaged, meaning that they are invested, not casual, and more likely to help market the show with techno word of mouth.

Up to now, assigning a value to that kind of audience had been a challenge, but with the announcement of the The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating metric that will help gauge a show’s popularity (and perhaps marketability) on Twitter, a series with that kind of audience may have an easier time justifying its continued existence.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that a 9th season is a certainty (any more than the initial short order or Lawson’s possible partial departure means that the show is marked for death), but it will likely be a part of the conversation, when and if USA, Franks and company decide to have one.

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Psych airs Wednesdays @10pm on USA

Source: DeadlineVariety, Nielsen