[09/24/12 - 04:17 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season, Part 1: Only 32% of Network Shows Make It to a Second Season
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

1) Only 32% of broadcast network shows make it to a second season.
2) Shows that premiere in September have the best chance of survival.
3) Scripted and unscripted shows fail at the same rate.
4) Friday night is indeed the "death slot."
5) 10 o'clock is just as successful as any other time period.
6) 5% of shows that are announced don't even air.
7) 4% of broadcast series have changed networks.
8) New shows on average lose 14% of their audience by episode two.
9) Cable dramas are almost twice as likely to return as broadcast ones.
10) History is on the side of the majority of this fall's new shows.

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to "The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season," our recurring feature about, well... the 10 things you need to know about the new season. The goal of this venture is to address not only common questions people have about television but to also demystify (or potentially reaffirm) stigmas out there about certain networks, time periods, genres and so forth. It's been a few years so we'll revisit some of our previous research as well as dig into some new areas we haven't touched on before.

So with that in mind let us put on our journalistic caps and give you the cold, hard truth about what's potentially ahead for some of your favorite new and returning shows...

1. Only 32% of broadcast network shows make it to a second season.

In the past 13 seasons (that's 1999-2000 through 2011-2012), 892 new primetime series have launched on the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW). Of those, just 288 made it to a second season. That's a 32% survival rate. Don't believe us? Check out the hard data:

1999-20003/12 (25%)6/12 (50%)2/12 (17%)5/15 (33%)1/7 (14%)5/10 (50%)22/68 (32%)
2000-20015/12 (42%)4/10 (40%)4/12 (33%)5/17 (29%)2/8 (25%)3/7 (43%)23/66 (35%)
2001-20024/16 (25%)4/11 (36%)5/17 (29%)7/15 (47%)2/5 (40%)4/11 (36%)26/75 (35%)
2002-20037/21 (33%)5/12 (42%)4/17 (24%)8/17 (47%)2/6 (33%)5/13 (38%)31/86 (36%)
2003-20042/17 (12%)4/8 (50%)7/22 (32%)3/11 (27%)2/9 (22%)4/11 (36%)22/78 (28%)
2004-20059/21 (43%)3/11 (27%)6/17 (35%)6/20 (30%)2/8 (25%)2/7 (29%)28/84 (33%)
2005-20062/17 (12%)6/12 (50%)4/11 (36%)3/16 (19%)1/5 (20%)1/8 (13%)17/69 (25%)
2006-20077/27 (26%)4/10 (40%)3/14 (21%)6/17 (35%)2/4 (50%)22/72 (31%)
2007-20089/21 (43%)3/11 (27%)3/11 (27%)4/15 (27%)2/8 (25%)21/66 (32%)
2008-20096/17 (35%)2/8 (25%)5/10 (50%)3/17 (18%)1/8 (13%)17/60 (28%)
2009-20108/20 (40%)4/8 (50%)4/8 (50%)6/13 (46%)2/8 (25%)24/57 (42%)
2010-20113/16 (19%)3/10 (30%)3/10 (30%)3/17 (18%)1/3 (33%)13/56 (23%)
2011-2012*6/14 (43%)3/7 (43%)4/11 (36%)7/17 (41%)2/6 (33%)22/55 (40%)
total71/231 (31%)51/130 (39%)54/172 (31%)66/207 (32%)12/48 (25%)24/67 (36%)10/37 (27%)288/892 (32%)

* does not include this summer's 15 newcomers as many of those fates are still in the air

That 32% survival rate is surprisingly universal as ABC, FOX and NBC are all on that baseline while CBS (39%) and The CW (27%) teeter on the opposite ends of the spectrum. We can also observe that no network has ever had better than a 50% survival rate in any given season. Likewise, we've seen both the worst (23% in 2010-2011) and the best (42% in 2009-2010) survival rates come to pass in recent years. (This past season's 40% rate will likely fall between 32%-35% once this summer's 15 newcomers are factored in.)

The takeaway here is this: with 47 series (and counting) due to premiere during the 2012-2013 season, history shows that only 15 will likely make it to a second season. So brace yourself, chances are the majority of the new shows you've added to your viewing schedule won't be back this time next year.

TOMORROW: Do shows that launch in September have a better chance of survival than any other month?

  [september 2012]  

(series past and present)
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