TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 17th, 2012 at 3:04 pm,

Canceled New Series Network Averages (Overall)
3 Year Average – 65% Canceled

2009-2010 – 57% Canceled
2010-2011 – 69% Canceled
2011-2012 – 68% Canceled

% of New Series Receiving a Second Season (By Network)
1) ABC – 39%
2) Fox – 38%
3)CBS – 36%
4) The CW – 30%
5) NBC – 27%

Network Breakdowns


(Canceled New Series Average – 61%)

abc tv success rate TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

2009-2010 Season
Drama – 6
Comedy – 4
Reality – 1

Canceled – 6 (2 drama; 1 comedy)

54% New Series Canceled

2010-2011 Season
Drama – 6
Comedy – 3

Canceled – 7 (5 drama; 2 comedy)

77% New Series Canceled

2011-2012 Season
Drama – 8
Comedy – 5

Canceled – (5 drama; 2 comedy)

53% New Series Canceled


(Canceled New Series Average – 64%)

cbs tv success rate TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

2009-2010 Season

Drama – 6
Comedy – 1
Reality – 1

Canceled 5 – (3 drama; 2 comedy; 1 alternative)

62% New Series Canceled

2010-2011 Season*

Drama – 4
Comedy – 2

Canceled – 4 (2 drama; 2 comedy)

66% New Series Canceled

*including CBS picking up Medium from NBC

2011-2012 Season
Drama – 4
Comedy – 2

Canceled – 4 (3 drama; 2 comedy)

66% New Series Canceled

The CW

(Canceled New Series Average – 70%)

cw success rate TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

2009-2010 Season
Drama – 4

Canceled – 2

50% New Series Canceled

2010-2011 Season*
Drama – 2
Reality/Alternative – 2

Canceled – 3 (1 drama; 2 reality/alternative)

75% New Series Canceled

*including Plain Jane, which was picked up for a second season by MTV Networks, not by CW

2011-2012 Season
Drama – 4
Comedy – 0
Reality/Alternative – 3

Canceled – 6 (3 drama; 3 reality/alternative)

85% New Series Canceled


(Canceled New Series Average – 73%)

nbc success rate TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

2009-2012 Season
Drama – 4
Comedy – 2
Reality/Alternative – 2

Canceled – 5 (3 drama; 2 comedy; 1 reality/alternative)

62% New Series Canceled

2010-2011 Season*
Drama – 6
Comedy – 6
Reality/Alternative – 1

Canceled – 12 (6 drama; 5 comedy; 1 reality/alternative)

92% New Series Canceled

*late night wars of 2010

2011-2012  Season
Drama – 6
Comedy – 6
Canceled – 8 (4 comedy; 4 drama)

66% New Series Canceled 


(Canceled New Series Average – 61%)

fox success rate TV Success Rate: 65% Of New Shows Will Be Canceled (& Why It Matters)

2009-2012 Season
Drama – 2
Comedy – 4
Reality/Alternative – 1

Canceled – 4 (1 drama; 2 comedies; 1 reality/alternative)

57% New Series Canceled

2010-2011  Season*
Drama – 3
Comedy – 4

Canceled – 4  (2 drama; 2 comedy)

57% Canceled New Series

*not including Terra Nova, which did not air until Fall 2011

2011-2012 Season
Drama – 6
Comedy – 4
Reality – 1

Canceled – 8* (5 drama; 3 comedy)

72% New Series Canceled

*including Terra Nova

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. Wow, I didn’t know that drag queen show got canceled after a week. This reminds me what someone said in another post. Wait until a series gets a second season before watching it. Because it sucks getting in to something only to see it canceled before the story even takes off.

  2. “try to make an effort to let your opinion be known, by tuning in. I mean, how are the networks going to know how many people are really enjoying a particular series if nobody actually watches it when it airs?”

    You said it yourself……if you aren’t a Nielson family, it makes absolutely ZERO difference if you watch a show or not. Kind of sad that Hollywood relies on a mere 5000 households to determine the fate of all these shows. That’s about .004% of the total households in the US.

    The best we, as NON Nielson families can do, is to post our comments on sites like ScreenRant and hope that someone who matters actually reads those comments.

    • I thought the same when I read “So if there’s a new series that you enjoy, watch it when it airs, as those are the numbers that networks use (for the most part) to make their programming decisions.”. How do they know if you’re not one of those families?
      There’s gotta be a better system. With people moving to IPTV, shouldn’t there be a more accurate way to determine what’s being watched?

  3. That’s why I rarely bother with new series/shows, I can almost bet on them being cancelled if I like them.

  4. I didn’t get into ‘House’ until it had been on for five years on FOX. I did give ‘Terra Nova’ a chance, kinda like it, because of Spielberg association with it.

  5. I’m still bitter about Harsh Realm being canceled mid-season. I’ll never watch a show in it’s first season again.

  6. It’s kind of hard to tune into a series when it airs if you only watch television on-line. I see everything the next day streaming. It’s a new age of technology and these networks should look into the potential of streaming-television before Hulu and Netflix take all of their business. I’d much rather get hooked to a series and watch 10-13 episodes on-line in a few weeks instead of sitting and waiting week to week for a show that may or may not get preempted or have its time-slot moved. I prefer watching my shows at my schedule since I can’t always get my kid into bed by exactly 8 o’clock so I can watch Alcatraz, Awake, Man Up…etc. I hope the producers of these cult shows start seeing the trend of streaming as a possibility and take their business away from the big broadcast networks or even start their own streaming network. I pay $8 month apiece for Hulu Plus and Netflix…I’d be willing to pay that much for a couple more television show streaming options.

  7. I only watch new shows if I think it’s pretty much guaranteed to be renewed, like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. It’s a catch 22. I don’t wanna watch the start of the seasons but then if everyone does the same there will never be anything new!

  8. If people aren’t willing to invest in (or are tiring of) long, drawn-out story lines, the solution is simple: bring back anthology series.

    Pick a genre, any genre.
    One story–thirty minutes long.
    Tune in next week–something completely new and unexpected.

    Rod Serling had this figured out a looong time ago.

  9. Still mad about Flash Forward!

    • I concur. I loved Flash Forward and they set it up so well for another 5 or 6 seasons. I enjoyed The Event and V too. They both ended on major cliffhangers and I would’ve liked to see where they went with it. I have highly enjoyed Person Of Interest.

    • ditto

  10. Smallville, The Mentalist, Burn Notice, Person of Interest, and Awake are the only shows I started watching when they first started; unfortunately, Awake is my first experience with a show being axed. It still sucks that Smallville is over.

    • Person of Interest is an awesome show. Picked up on it about halfway through the season and I am hooked. Stupid Time Warner doesn’t have it on their On Demand service either.

  11. Sadly, many network tent-pole series become stale yet go on & on for seasons longer than deserved. Then there’s the plethora of mindless reality shows crammed into every open space imaginable. Meanwhile, it seems the networks pick one or two new shows they think are gems and over-promote them while ignoring other series that could use the boost and/or support of the very network that gave them life. They used to say it took a handful of episodes for a new series to find its legs, for the cast & crew to establish a rapport. But, when they’re only given 13 episodes, they don’t seem to get that chance to truly come together. If the networks took more of a chance on their own product maybe audiences would too.

  12. I really wish since The networks Have other channels ON cable Like fox has FX and fuel for instance if say a show like fringe does ok But doesnt have the ratings they want after the 1st season put it on Fx and build that channel but Promote the show on fox that its moving and they could even play the reruns on the other channel
    It would be a great way for shows like Chuck, dollhouse or even Firefly to survive and help build the channel to

  13. I dont think the Networks are taking into account Neflix,torrents,DVD sale,and DVRS theres Tons of show I love but don’t watch wile there On LIke Dexter and I’m only on ep 12 of supernatural and the finally is on tonight.
    in this Internet,and DVD box set age alot of people wait to see a whole season at once like myself I never watched 24 wile it aired by I watched it on DVD same with Burn notice on netfliz

  14. its always the god dam reality shows that arent being canceled and all the good shows get canned

    • Actually, if you do the math, 9 of the 12 new Reality/Alternative shows got the axe.

    • I totally agree with you. I have never been a real fan of them but I have watched a few. I would much rather have a decent series/story with an ongoing plot than watch a bunch of ppl sitting around whining because someone stepped on their feelings.
      I can pretty much guarantee that if I like a show it is getting cancelled. Usually before the first season ends. I think ppl have proven that they will sit for hours/days/weeks watching a good story so why they have to have 10 month breaks btwn seasons is beyond me. Actors would have a steady income, producers and directors would have a steady income and advertisers would kill to sponsor these shows.

      The biggest thing that is irking me to no iend and making me not even want to watch the few shows that I do watch is this constant 2-4 week breaks btwn episodes. They show two episodes and then wait 2-4 weeks to show another two to three episodes. By the time they start showing the next group of episodes the show has lost all continuity. I usually have forgotten what the ongoing plots were and it frustrates the hell out of the viewers. It is no wonder they are losing ratings when they only choose to air 10 to 13 episodes a season. They space them out over a couple of months by not showing them every week and then you have to go almost a full year without seeing anything at all btwn seasons. With all of the breaks btwn episodes you have no idea if they are just taking a break or if they have cancelled the show completely.

      Not everyone has a DVR so how many ppl just simply forget that the show is on a 2 to 4 week break and miss the show completely. The ppl scheduling these shows are a big reason that the networks are losing ratings.

  15. as Mongoose so aptly put it, if you ain’t got one of those ratings boxes hooked up to your TV, then it really doesn’t matter one iota whether you watch a show or not.

    Now, just think, in general (and I KNOW this will be a possibly cruel and mildly bigoted generalization) what kind of people don’t mind being imposed upon to write down every channel change, every moment of surf, every program every member of the family watches?

    What kind of household doesn’t mind having a set-top box added to the living room (or TV room, or wherever that big flat-screen TV is hanging)?

    Do you really think that the people who are interested in more high-brow or high-concept TV shows are the ones who would readily accept becoming a Nielsen family?

    Personally, I don’t believe that the Nielsen boxes are a true cross-section of the viewing audience. I actually believe quite firmly that Nielsen households are probably more representative of a considerably more “low brow” segment of the population.

    So sue me, I’m a pessimist. I think that the studios are basing their “research” and their ideas about what people are watching, on trailer park trash.

    That is the ONLY explanation I can conceive of for the state of television in the 21st century.

    Idiocracy, here we come.

  16. What puzzles me additionally is why the successful shows over the years are now getting canned.
    Why stop Boston Legal, and now Harry’s Law? After 10 seasons CSI Miami still packed a punch.
    House still grabbed hold of your senses and rattled them.
    AWAKE was so original in it’s concept and needed time to build.
    Keifer Sutherland was the only reason they kept Touch on for another year. Now that it has been moved to Fridays, a second season is all we can hope for.
    And who really watches The Middle, Modern Family, Glee, Smash and all the survival shows?
    The biggest insult to television is the continued renewal of The Simpsons.
    Sad situation.

    • Gods I hate Glee and I haven’t watched The Simpson’s in years.

  17. If it’s clever and I like it…Then that’s almost the same as a Kiss Of Death. Fortunately some cable stations will stick with shows a lot longer than the national stations…CW is a prime example of that…A show like Supernatural probably wouldn’t be considered high enough in the numbers to continue, but they plan at least two more seasons.

  18. Perhaps they need to start monitoring how often the show is watched online/streaming. It seems that with all the busy schedules, kids, social lives, cooking, cleaning, knitting(ok just me there), and other things that need to be done people just don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and stare at the TV. Or are watching things like Discovery or Nat Geo or… *gasp* PBS! I loves me some Antique Roadshow… (don’t tell my mother, she’ll never let me live that down).

    If given a choice between watching Nat Geo’s 2012 Apocalypse series or MOST of the current shows on I’d choose Nat Geo. Or I’d even have the husband fire up something on his laptop and hook it up to the TV to watch. Hulu is our friend.

  19. Awake is the most gut wrenching cancellation this season. Such an original and thought provoking show. Now it has been canned by America’s least watched network! (Maybe that is the CW but who cares) NBC keeps trash like Whitney, the long out run it’s course The Office (which I used to love), and other shows and get rid of the one show that was thought provoking and challenged an audience. That is the problem though. A lot of audiences don’t want to be challenged. They want a few laughs in a half an hour or they want to watch some crappy reality TV show. Crap like Jersey Shore sees no end in sight but great shows are getting cut. I am so utterly disappointed.

  20. Got tired of the my favorite shows getting cancelled after a few episodes or one season so I rarely watch new shows. Also because of the hours I work, I now stream on Hulu Plus and Netflix (I can watch some series from start to finish). Wish CBS would stream their shows on Hulu because they have a lousy player.

    • I do the same thing and agree about CBS. Also, CBS stopped streaming Person of Interest about halfway through the season. That was upsetting.

  21. There should be also some passion when people produce something. Profits are fundamental but they are not everything. This whole system make the actors to be like puppets and we viewers as well. I definitely only watch a TV series after being confirmed the second season. Not want to waste my time in some crap that is just filling up someone’s pockets, someone that in the end is just a coward that quits at the firs sign of problem!

  22. First, Anthony, I wanted to say great article. Really informative. I was wondering if you could tell where you found your statistics.

  23. I am beginning more and more to pay attention,more carefully as to what .I get so tired of investing 12 to 15
    episodes, and then suddenly its gone. No mention of if its coming back or even if its the final episode.
    Surley when they start a 12 to 14 episode they at the first one know that 12 will be the last one for that
    season. So could they not end it some what with a finish. Its like reading a book and the last page is torn out

  24. this is unacceptable, not to mention idiotic on the part of the networks. none of us “watch tv” anymore, not in the traditional sense. yet, they still try to “measure” popularity using that old definition. no. people hoarde shows. people discover shows. most importantly, people don’t like watching tv anymore. they like watching shows. the fact that networks are killing off works of art (remember “threshold”?) simply because a 90-iq hillbilly is not interested in it proves that this shining genre of motion picture, “the series”, should move to a different platform, one that is less corporate if possible. in turkey, a show got “forcibly finalized” due to political pressures, and now the team is considering contracting some theaters around the country at which to show new episodes they plan to shoot, without the political pressure of tv. they also plan on having the viewers directly fund the production this way. i think tv storytelling has become too good to leave on the laps of these fools.

    • I have said basically the same thing. But good shows are getting canceled left and right without really letting people get a feel for them.

  25. I really wish television networks would take into consideration that many people watch shows other ways than just on cable. Now with so many entities to view your favorite shows, like Hulu Plus and Netflix, it’s much easier to watch something in your own time. So many if the shows I watch and love are being canceled due to ratings. But those ratings don’t really reflect what they should. I have also discovered shows after they have ran and been so disappointed to find out they were canceled.

    Well yeah, no sh*t we don’t. They suck, they’re annoying. Nobody likes them.

    That’s why i watch online, i literally don’t even watch anything at all on an actual television anymore because then i’d have to deal with advertisement, and let’s be honest. TV commercials are like that guy that just gets right up in your face and won’t stop talking, on, and on, and on and never takes the hint. You don’t know what they’re saying anymore, you don’t care, you’ve tuned them out, the only thing still remaining is the annoying interruption of what you were doing beforehand and every once in a while a catchy tune or gimmick for…. what was it again? Yeah, i don’t remember either.

    Now call me lazy if you will, but i don’t feel it’s my responsibility as a consumer to go around watching commercials and tuning in at whatever specific time the network shows something. It is the responsibility of the network to figure out how to market in times when commercial revenue is dying out, and make no mistake it is dying.
    I accept, on that note, that some TV shows that i like will die. It’s a painful period of growth but due to the internet and more freedom of choice things need to change. Honestly i’d be perfectly fine with paying for the continued production of shows i like, i really don’t even mind product placement as long as it’s not annoying and/or intrusive.

    Once upon a time you paid to go see a show (i suppose in the form of movie theaters you still do), i’d be fine with paying a monthly fee to a network that has all the shows i want. Actually i do pay for netflix and that’s where my one small hope for the future of TV lies, in netflix and other similar services growing exponentially and most if not all future TV migrating to those services, commercial free.

    This isn’t (to be clear) just a rant against commercials, it’s against the people who seem to expect that we ought to be obligated to stomach them if we wan’t TV, those who guilt us by saying “well you’re getting it for free!”
    I’m not sure about the rest of you, but i for one was never asked and would gladly pay a fee to remove all commercials from my TV (assuming i had one). Because a third of the time slot devoted to something i have below zero interest in seeing is absurd.