With Save Our Shows, you can cast your vote among dozens of network comedies and dramas that are “on the bubble” between renewal and cancellation.
Is there a show you can’t live without?
USA TODAY’s 22nd annual Save Our Shows survey gives you a voice. This year, 26 comedies and dramas on the major broadcast networks are “on the bubble” between renewal and cancellation. The list ranges from longer-running series including “Madam Secretary” and “Blindspot” to freshman shows “Whiskey Cavalier” and “The Passage” to remakes or revivals of “MacGyver” and “Murphy Brown.” Their fates will be determined by mid-May when the networks announce new lineups. But you can vote now.
The campaign, and other fan-centric efforts, can get results. NBC’s time-travel sci-fi series ‘Timeless,’ the winner of the 2017 and 2018 Save Our Shows polls, was rescued twice: First for a second season, days after it had been canceled, when then-NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt credited Save Our Shows for the reprieve –.and again for a two-hour finale that aired last December.
Each network has different needs based on its performance: NBC, No. 1 among its target young-adult audience, has a deep bench, and has already renewed eight dramas including “Law & Order: SVU,” for a 21st season that will set a new drama record; “Manifest” is also a lock to return. Just three of its shows have uncertain fates and will compete against pilot episodes for potential new series that are vying to replace them. CBS, the most-watched network, has a dozen dramas that are already locks to return.
In contrast, ABC has 10 endangered shows, but in a first for Save Our Shows, hasn’t ruled out any from coming back for new seasons. That uncertainty is a nod to the changes roiling the media business: NBC, ABC and Fox each named new programming chiefs within the last year. CW last fall expanded its schedule to six nights and has canceled fewer shows, while Fox gained “Thursday Night Football” and this fall adds “WWE SmackDown!,” lessening its need for scripted programming.
But networks are increasingly making early renewal decisions, and weighing whether shows stay or go are complicated by accelerating shifts in viewing. Streaming services have drained viewers, live viewership of entertainment programming has plunged and networks are more concerned with profitability than TV ratings as they depend more heavily on digital, on-demand or DVR-delayed viewing. (Streaming and cable series, which are renewed on a year-round basis, aren’t included in the survey).
Among spring series that have yet to premiere or are too new to include in the survey: ABC’s “The Fix” and “Bless This Mess”; CBS’s “The Code”; NBC’s “Abby’s”; and CW’s “In the Dark.”
Ending their runs this spring are TV’s top-rated comedy, “The Big Bang Theory,” Batman origin story “Gotham” and CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” among others. And next spring will see the exits of four popular shows: “Modern Family,” “Criminal Minds,” “Supernatural” (after 15 seasons) and “Arrow,” CW’s first DC Comics-inspired series (and the first to end).
Among other top finishers in the 2018 poll, “Designated Survivor” was canceled by ABC but rescued by Netflix, and after Fox ditched “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” NBC (which owns the series) scooped it up. “The Blacklist” won a two-season renewal at NBC, so it’s coming back, and CBS dramas “Criminal Minds” and “Elementary” also earned reprieves, but both will end after upcoming seasons.
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