[09/26/12 - 04:33 PM]
The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season, Part 3: Scripted and Unscripted Shows Fail at the Same Rate
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...

3. Scripted and unscripted shows fail at the same rate.

If you've been following this feature for the past few days the above shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Of the 892 shows that have premiered in the past 13 seasons (that's 1999-2000 through 2011-2012), the 608 scripted ones made it to second seasons just as often as the 284 unscripted ones: 32% of the time.

all scripted46/146 (32%)42/103 (41%)33/112 (29%)37/136 (27%)11/36 (31%)18/53 (34%)1/6 (17%)196/608 (32%)
all unscripted25/85 (29%)9/27 (33%)21/60 (35%)29/71 (41%)1/12 (8%)6/14 (43%)0/9 (0%)92/284 (32%)
total71/231 (31%)51/130 (39%)54/172 (31%)66/207 (32%)12/48 (25%)24/67 (36%)10/37 (27%)288/892 (32%)

However, when you filter those scripted and unscripted shows into distinct genres, a slightly different picture is painted:

comedy (animated)0/2 (0%)0/1 (0%)3/6 (50%)0/3 (0%)0/2 (0%)1/3 (33%)0/0 (0%)4/17 (24%)
comedy (improv-sketch)2/4 (50%)0/0 (0%)0/7 (0%)2/8 (25%)0/0 (0%)2/5 (40%)0/0 (0%)6/24 (25%)
comedy (multi-camera)10/34 (29%)12/32 (38%)6/20 (30%)5/29 (17%)7/15 (47%)5/14 (36%)1/1 (100%)46/145 (32%)
comedy (single-camera)11/23 (48%)0/4 (0%)9/22 (41%)8/22 (36%)1/3 (33%)0/7 (0%)0/2 (0%)29/83 (35%)
drama23/83 (28%)30/66 (45%)15/57 (26%)22/74 (30%)3/16 (19%)10/24 (42%)8/19 (42%)111/339 (33%)
reality (competition)16/46 (35%)7/20 (35%)13/40 (33%)23/58 (40%)1/7 (14%)3/10 (30%)1/6 (17%)64/187 (34%)
reality (non-competition)9/39 (23%)2/7 (29%)8/20 (40%)6/13 (46%)0/5 (0%)3/4 (75%)0/9 (0%)28/97 (29%)
total71/231 (31%)51/130 (39%)54/172 (31%)66/207 (32%)12/48 (25%)24/67 (36%)10/37 (27%)288/892 (32%)

The above tells us that animation on the broadcast networks provides the longest odds: just four series in the past 13 years made it to second seasons, none of which came from ABC, CBS or NBC. On the flip side, single-camera comedies have the best survival rate - albeit by only one percentage point over competition series and two over dramas.

As always, the more telling aspects come from the networks themselves. CBS hasn't given a second season to a single-camera comedy in the past 13 years while ABC has brought back nearly half (48%) of theirs. Conversely, CBS has renewed 45% of its freshman dramas - the best of any network - while ABC's hour-long newcomers only return 28% of the time. Also on interest: ABC and CBS's reality competition series do significantly better than their non-competition ones whereas FOX and NBC are the opposite when it comes to their unscripted offerings.

Likewise, until today's renewal of "Breaking Pointe" (series from this past summer aren't factored into the above as many of their fates are still up in the air), The CW had yet to renew any of its non-competition reality series.

All in all, while shows in general fail at the same rate there are some ebbs and flows to specific genres and on specific networks.

PREVIOUSLY: Shows that premiere in September have the best chance of survival.

TOMORROW: Do certain nights of the week fare better than others?

  [september 2012]  

(series past and present)
(series in development)
(tv movies and mini-series)

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