While a number of broadcast series at all five networks already have secured early renewals a month before the upfronts, there are quite a few that are yet to hear, some of them heavily on the bubble. Here is rundown of the broadcast scripted series whose fate beyond this season has not been unveiled yet, along with my assessment of their chances. You can stay up to date with the status of the current TV series with Deadline’s Series Renewal Status Scorecard.
CBS already has renewed 19 series for next season, including 16 comedies and dramas, leaving only several in limbo.
The highest profile CBS series yet to learn their fate are veterans Elementary and 2 Broke Girls. Elementary surprisingly did not make the list of early renewals for the first time, spending its first spring on the bubble. But I hear the crime drama, 100% owned by CBS, looks good to return and is making writer staffing deals for next season. While its linear ratings in the Sunday 10 PM hour are soft (7.7 million viewers, 1.1 in 18-49 Live+7), the series has off-network and SVOD deals with WGN America, Hulu Plus and broadcast stations that fetch in as much as $3 million total per episode; and it is a nice international seller too. Just last May, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves used Elementary as an example of a program ownership success story, telling investors that the show had “made approximately an $80 million profit for the corporation” the previous year.
2 Broke Girls, now in Season 6, is likely to go down to the wire as CBS and producer Warner Bros. TV are locked in intense negotiations. The sitcom, which got off to a blazing hot start in its first season, has been a utility player for CBS. Its L+7 adults 18-49 average, 1.9 rating, matches that for renewed CBS comedies Mom and Life In Pieces. It ranks above picked up Man With A Plan and Superior Donuts and is CBS’ youngest-skewing comedy. But CBS has no ownership in 2 Broke Girls while having to cover its costs because of the show’s age. Meanwhile, 2 Broke Girls holds the record for the biggest off-network comedy series sale, earning Warner Bros. TV $1.7 million an episode from TBS alone. I hear CBS may be trying to tap into the studio’s lucrative backend, making negotiations even tougher. There is too much money at stake not to make a deal in the end, but it will be tough.
Hopes are fading for The Great Indoors, the only freshman CBS comedy series that has not been renewed yet. The comedy, which has some internal support at CBS, failed to take full advantage of its strong lead-in, The Big Bang Theory, and it also didn’t pass a recent test, logging mediocre ratings for a special Monday airing. Also unlikely to continue is The Odd Couple reboot after a low-rated third season. Medical drama Code Black clinched a last-minute renewal last season and, while being a long shot, should not be written off just yet despite modest ratings. The medical drama, from ABC Studios and CBS Studios, is liked by CBS brass, the network does not have a medical drama pilot for next season and observers see a scenario for Code Black to possibly come back if CBS could negotiate a license fee reduction with ABC Studios. Also heavily on the bubble, and possibly on the wrong side of it, is another ABC Studios/CBS TV Studios co-production, the low-rated Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, whose mothership series was recently renewed by CBS for next season.
As for the two unscripted CBS veterans left on the bubble, the Emmy-winning The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss, the expectation is that the reality staples will return in some shape or form based on their pedigree. They also may be needed for plum spots in case there is a writers strike.
There is no chance for the other three CBS series — midseason dramas Doubt, which was yanked from the schedule after two airings; Training Day, which was banished to Saturdays and also tragically lost its star Bill Paxton; and fall entry Pure Genius, which did not get a back order after an anemic initial run.
ABC so far only has renewed the original TGIT lineup of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder and comedy The Middle.
On the drama side, freshman drama Designated Survivor, a strong delayed viewing and international performer (ABC Studios co-produces with indie Mark Gordon Co.) is certain to come back,and in anticipation of a renewal the series is in the process of hiring a new showrunner. Things also look promising for veteran Once Upon a Time, contingent on closing deals with four cast members identified to lead a planned reimagining of the series, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle and Colin O’Donoghue. I hear the show is meeting with writers as two of its key producers, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, left to become co-showrunners on Fear the Walking Dead. Even Quantico, which has been struggling this season after a solid first year, appears likely to continue as it makes money for ABC Studios via international and SVOD (Netflix) deals. (It also features a global star in Priyanka Chopra.) Ditto for Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which serves as a marketing platform for the Disney-owned Marvel. The Catch survived a low-rated first season to clinch a second-season renewal as part of TGIT. A creative reboot heading into Season 2 did not lead to a ratings boost as The Catch continues to lag far behind TGIT’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and HTGAWM, with its ratings also below two new fall ABC dramas that are not expected to come back, Notorious and Conviction. While a third season of The Catch appears a long shot, there is internal support for the series, which has appealing leads in Peter Krause and Mireille Enos, a big producer behind it, Shondaland, and potential international play for ABC Studios. ABC’s prestige drama American Crime is heavily on the bubble with low ratings offset by strong critical acclaim, leaving ABC to weigh the two and make a renewal decision. Not expected to be in the running for a third season is anthology crime drama Secrets & Lies, with swiftly pulled midseason drama Time After Time also gone.
The bulk of ABC’s comedy lineup looks hopeful to return. Modern Family and The Goldbergs, which come from outside studios, are in negotiations for new seasons. Black-ish and American Housewife, both from ABC Studios, are considered sure bets. Black-ish is a rare acclaimed broadcast comedy series, it does well in the ratings and has been selling off-network, making money for the company. Meanwhile, American Housewife is one of ABC’s most promising new comedy series this season, along with Speechless. It will likely be another complex negotiation season between ABC and 20th Century Fox TV, which co-produces Speechless with ABC Studios and produces Modern Family as well as Fresh Off the Boat and Last Man Standing. Neither is in serious danger of cancellation though there will likely be some wheeling and dealing involved as ABC and 20th TV go down to the wire on renewals every year. Friday ABC comedy Dr. Ken is heavily on the bubble, with its future possibly tied to larger negotiations between leading studio Sony TV and ABC. Not expected to continue is sophomore family comedy The Real O’Neals, the lowest-rated of ABC’s Tuesday and Wednesday comedies, with the network’s newest half-hour addition, Imaginary Mary also looking unlikely.
Fox has renewed flagship Empire as well as Lucifer and freshmen Lethal Weapon, Star and The Mick.
Expectation is that the Batman drama Gotham would make it back eventually. And despite not getting a back order, there is talk that well-received new drama Exorcist also looks good to come back. Prospects are not as bright for Fox’s fellow new fall drama that earned strong reviews and soft ratings, Dan Fogelman’s baseball-themed Pitch, which appears unlikely, and I hear its writers are being released. Also heavily on the the bubble are sophomore crime procedural Rosewood, whose ratings dropped significantly in Season 2 after leaving the Empire ratings force field, and supernatural drama Sleepy Hollow, which flirted with cancellation last season too. But since Fox has only four drama pilots that are being produced, it is not inconceivable to keep any of them, possibly as backup. Both are owned by Fox; Sleepy Hollow does well for the studio internationally, while Rosewood is believed to be the most cost-efficient drama on the network, making low ratings more palatable. And then there is 24: Legacy. There were very high expectations for the reboot of Fox’s signature drama, with the network giving it a post-Super Bowl launch. Based on that, 24: Legacy‘s delivery has been disappointing, with its future in limbo, possibly contingent on finding a premise for Season 2 that could re-energize the franchise. Still, with a marquee worldwide title and dearth of new drama options at Fox for next season, the reboot is in the mix. Fellow midseason drama entry APB is not expected to continue.
On the comedy side, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is considered a good utility player and is expected to return. The consensus is that veteran New Girl, a legacy show for Fox as it carried the torch for comedy at the network for a long time, would likely get a limited final season for a proper sendoff. Things are shaky for The Last Man On Earth, which has become more narrow in appeal with time, and freshmen Son of Zorn, which had been looking to find a new showrunner, and Making History. Neither has a made a strong argument to continue, but as all three come from top producers Pill Lord and Chris Miller, if one series should return, it may be Last Man.
The question at NBC is whether all five Dick Wolf shows — half of NBC’s drama series in contention for next season — would come back.
Law & Order: SVU is an institution and still doing well, 18 seasons in. “We don’t see a reason why SVU would go anywhere,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said in January. There has been some chatter that one of the newer Chicago shows –– Chicago Med or Chicago Justice — may not continue. As can be expected after 30 years in business, the financial relationship between Wolf and NBC is complex, and, with few exceptions, network drama series are not as lucrative these days, with very limited possibilities in the SVOD and cable off-network space. There have been no syndication sales yet for Chicago Fire, now in Season 5, or Chicago PD, in Season 4. That said, flagship Chicago Fire is NBC’s second-highest-rated and most watched drama series behind breakout This Is Us, which has been renewed for two seasons, and all four Chicago shows are performing respectably; they are higher rated than NBC’s Shades of Blue, which was recently renewed for a third season. They still make money for NBC and are efficiently produced, with Wolf known for always delivering his shows on time and on budget.
With strong delayed viewing, The Blacklist remains one of NBC’s top dramas, No.3 behind This Is Us and Chicago Fire. It is fully expected to come back though its spinoff, The Blacklist: Redemption, has disappointed and is on the wrong side of the bubble at the moment. Both shows come from Sony TV, which also has Timeless on the bubble at NBC. It is one of two dramas, along with Warner Bros. TV’s Blindspot, which find themselves in a similar position where they are hopeful though not certain to come back. With some DVR help, I hear both have done OK not great in the ratings but well enough for the network to not lose money on them. Both shows have strong lead casts — Sullivan Stapleton & Jaimie Alexander (Blindspot); Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter & Malcolm Barrett (Timeless) — and have developed a following, creating a dilemma for NBC whether to stick with series that already have established (albeit modest) viewership or spend tens millions of dollars to market new shows that may or may not stick. Additionally, Timeless has drawn praise for its depicting of history, recently earning recognition from the Smithsonian, with talk to potentially move the series from 10 PM, where it aired this season, to an earlier time slot where families with kids can watch. NBC’s midseason action thriller Taken is meeting with writers for a potential second season, though there is no decision yet, while fellow newbie Emerald City is not expected to continue.
On the comedy side, NBC already has renewed Superstore and The Good Place. The two midseason entries, the true crime spoof Trial & Error and DC-themed Powerless, have been ratings-challenged, though Trial & Error has been well received, and I hear there are conversations about a second installment of the anthology comedy. Powerless appears a long shot. The network is yet to premiere two new comedies, Great News and Marlon.
On the unscripted side, NBC has bubble series The Celebrity Apprentice, which will likely go dormant, at least for awhile, after a season marred by constant attacks from executive producer (and former star), President Donald Trump.
The CW has renewed almost all of its current scripted series — 9 in total — only leaving midseason entries The Originals and iZombie for a May decision. I hear Rob Thomas’ iZombie is the hotter of the two as there are questions about the future of The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals with the mothership series gone, though I hear limited runs for both series are very much on the table. A second season for new fall series No Tomorrow and Frequency is highly unlikely.