TV News

Exactly How Many of the Major Networks’ New 2014/2015 Shows Are Doomed to Fail?

This is the time of the year the major American broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW) throw a big party in New York, and rage against the weakening traditional TV dollar by bragging about their new shows, returning hits, and lucrative sports packages (e.g., NBC has the Super Bowl!, CBS has 8 Thursday Night NFL games!) in a bid for big advertising bucks from advertisers who know we no longer really have to watch commercials anymore in the DVR age.  While the true point of this period is to woo advertisers it also serves to woo future viewers, who can track down online trailers for each new show throughout the week and make mental note of those to skip, definitely watch, or wait to hear word of mouth.

You can see a list of all the 2013/2014 renewals, cancelations, and pickups at soipondered.   

Personally, I already know I’ll watch the pilots for the new sitcoms A to ZMarry Me, Mission Launch, and Selfie.  Why?  Because they feature actors I like, How I Met Your Mother’s Cristin Milioti in A to Z, Happy Endings’ Casey Wilson and Party Down‘s Ken Marino in Marry Me, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23‘s Krysten Ritter in Mission Control, and Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan in Selfie.   Plus, I am already on board with all 5 of the new comic book shows, Gotham on Fox, Flash and iZombie on CW, Constantine on NBC, and Agent Carter on ABC.

Agent Carter

Yet I have this nagging sense of dread or  deja vu.  Sure, Flash and Gotham seem like safe bets, but why really get worked up about any of these shows or invest too much in them when the odds are overwhelmingly against most of them making it to a second season?  Granted, in a post-Jericho/The Killing/Chuck/Ripper Street world, we’re supposed to feel empowered to embrace any show and know that if the network threatens cancellation we can change their mind, but that has its definite limits or else we’d have a new season of Pushing Daisies by now.  So, realistically, the networks are just giving us a list of shows which again threaten to break our hearts upon their cancellation (e.g., The Tomorrow People) or when they’re unceremoniously yanked from the schedule (e.g., Believe, Crisis).  That might seem cynical, but recent history show that it’s mere math:

Two years ago, the 5 networks combined to premiere 38 new scripted shows, only 13 of which made it to a second season, meaning 66% of all new 2012/2013 shows failed.  This past year, the networks introduced 46 new scripted shows, but only granted second season renewals to 14 of them, meaning 70% all new 2013/2014 shows failed.  With most of the network pickups already announced, a look into the upcoming TV season reveals there are 42 new shows (not counting mini-series events like A.D. and Emerald City) coming our way, 13 from NBC alone.   Based upon recent history, only around 14 of all new shows will make it to a second season, although that group does include shows (e.g., Heroes: Reborn) which are designed for a limited run should the ratings fail to warrant an additional season.

Is this simply a reflection of the new normal for TV watching where no one really knows for sure what constitutes a hit show anymore, and viewership has migrated so much to cable that re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on TBS regularly pull in more viewers than the likes of New Girl, Community, and Parks & Recreation combined?   Or is this merely how it’s always been, with most new shows destined to fail?  After all, most new shows on network TV fail.  That’s nothing new.  Has it always been this bad, though?

Actually, it’s been worse.  Our current line-up of networks (i.e., ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW) first came into being during the 2006/2007 TV season after The WB and UPN merged.  During that TV season, the 5 networks launched 40 new shows, a paltry 8 of which survived into a second season.  That means 80% of the new shows failed.

It’s no wonder why some people don’t pay attention to a new show until it has been renewed for a second season, and has a complete first season available to stream on Netflix or Hulu.   It’s also no wonder why the networks are dabbling with limited series like Fox’s current 24 or NBC’s upcoming Heroes: Reborn because at least there renewal/cancellation concerns don’t apply except, of course, if the show is a hit, and then of course it will be back, just like Under the Dome.




Canceled: The Assets, Back in the Game, Betrayal, Killer Women, Lucky 7, Mind Games, Mixology, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Super Fun Night, Trophy Wife

Renewed: The Goldbergs, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Resurrection

Success Rate: Only 3 of 13 survived.


Canceled: Bad Teacher, The Crazy Ones, Friends With Better Lives, Hostages, Intelligence, We Are Men

Renewed: The Millers, Mom

Success Rate: Only 2 of 8 survived


Canceled: Almost Human, Dads, Enlisted, Surviving Jack, Rake, Us & Them

Renewed: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, MasterChef Junior, Sleepy Hollow

Success Rate: Only 3 of 9 survived


Canceled: Believe, Crisis, Dracula, Growing Up Fisher, Ironside, The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World, Welcome to the Family

Renewed: About a Boy, The Blacklist, Chicago PD

Success Rate: Only 3 of 11 survived


Canceled: Star-Crossed, The Tomorrow People

Renewed: The 100, The Originals, Reign

Success Rate: 3 of 5 survived



Olliver as he appeared in the show's pilot episode.
Stephen Amell on Arrow


Canceled: 666 Park Avenue, Family Tools, How to Live With Your Parents, Last Resort, Malibu Country, Red Widow, Zero Hour

Renewed: Mistresses, Nashville, The Neighbors

Success Rate: Only 3 of 10 survived


Canceled: Friend Me, Golden Boy, Made in Jersey, Partners, Vegas

Renewed: Elementary, Under the Dome

Success Rate: 2 of 6 survived


Canceled: Ben and Kate, The Mob Doctor, The Goodwin Games

Renewed: The Following, the Mindy Project

Success Rate: 2 of 5 survived


Canceled: 1600 Penn, Animal Practice, Camp, Deception, Do No Harm, Go On, Guys With Kids, Save Me, The New Normal

Renewed: Chicago Fire, Hannibal, Revolution

Success Rate: Only 3 of 12 survived


Canceled: Cult, Emily Owens, M.D

Renewed: Arrow, Beauty and the Beast, The Carrie Diaries

Success Rate: 3 of 5 survived

The lesson of the past 2 seasons has been that The CW tends to give their shows more chances while ABC and NBC have seriously, seriously struggled to launch new shows.  NBC has gotten away with it by managing to hit big with The Blacklist and moderately big with Chicago Fire, which already has its own spin-off, Chicago, P.D.

For comparisons sake, this is how things look back during The CW’s first year of life:




Canceled: The Nine, Help Me Help You, Day Break, Show Me the Money, The Knights of Prosperity, Six Degrees, In Case of Emergency

Renewed: No new show was renewed

Success Rate: 0 out of 7 survived


Canceled: Armed & Famous, The Class, Pirate Master, Smith, Standoff, 3 Lbs

Renewed: Jericho, Rules of Engagement, Shark

Success Rate: 3 of 9 survived


Canceled: Anchorwoman, Celebrity Duets, Drive, Happy Hour, Justice, The Loop, On the Lot, The Rich List, Vanished, The Wedding Bells, The Winner

Renewed: ‘Til Death

Success Rate: An astonishingly bad 1 of 12 survived


Canceled: Andy Barker, P.I., The Black Donnellys, Kidnapped, Raines, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Thank You’re Here

Renewed: 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Heroes

Success Rate: Only 3 of 9 survived

CW (first year as a network)

Canceled: Hidden Palms, Runaway

Renewed: The Game

Success Rate: 1 of 3 survived

Is it impressive or sad or both if you read the 2006/2007 list and actually remembered most of the shows which had been canceled?  I can’t lie – I hadn’t heard of most of those.  Sadly, we’ll eventually be saying the same thing about the likes of Marry Me and the majority of the 40+ new shows set to premiere this upcoming TV season.

Sources:,, Wikipedia


    1. I’m with you. I remembered most of the shows from this most recent TV season, but when I got to the ones from 2012/2013 I had to look a couple of them (e.g., Malibu Country, Red Widow) up just to make sure they qualified as new shows. When I got to 2006/2007, though, I had to look pretty much every single show up because among those which were canceled I had only ever watched/heard of Andy Barker, P.I., Studio 60, The Loop, and 3lbs (the Stanley Tucci House-knockoff). Among those I had to look up, The Class stood out at me the most. It was a CBS sitcom centered around 8 alumni of a particular high school who reconnect at their 10-year reunion, and it starred a pre-Party Down/Masters of Sex Lizzy Caplan, pre-Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson, pre-Better Off Ted Andrea Anders, and pre-Parenthood Jason Ritter. Plus, I was reminded that Drive was from Tim Minear, of Buffy/Angel/Firefly fame, and starred Nathan Fillion, Kevin Alejandro (Sebastian Blood on Arrow), Dylan Baker (Dr. Connors in Spider-Man 2 – 3), and a young Emma Stone!!!!

      However, it was in looking at those lists that made me kind of not care about any of the new 2014/2015 shows other than the ones I’m already pre-conditioned to watch, like Selfie and the 5 comic book shows.

      1. I will need to take a closer look at the new series but I will probably end up trying the 5 comic book shows. I also really hope they do a better job with Agent Carter than they did with Agent’s of SHIELD.

      2. I’m still going through all of the new shows, but the thing that is jumping out at me right away is just how many, if not the overall majority of them, in no way feel as if they have premises which can support an actual TV show beyond maybe one season. So, I’m definitely gravitating more toward the comic book shows not just because they speak more to my sensibilities but also because they seem like the surest bets out there. I am really curious to see Agent Carter as well as how exactly Carter and SHIELD will handle the transition at mid-season, i.e., whether the first half of SHIELD’s season will somehow plot-wise or theme-wise set up Agent Carter for mid-season or if they’ll not be all that connected to one another.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: