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Deathwatch 2015: Spring TV show survival odds

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Adam Rose/ABC

This year, Empire made nearly every other broadcast show look like a slacker. Fox’s hip-hop hit proved that posting huge numbers and growing an audience is perfectly possible even in today’s crowded, distracted marketplace—for the right series. Which makes you think: If a phenomenon like Empire is possible, do networks want to renew struggling shows like Nashville instead of taking a chance on creative titles that could totally explode?

Still, in many cases, caution will continue to win out—as most view Empire as some kind of freakish outlier, given broadcast’s dropping ratings across the board. “The devil you know is starting to look pretty good right now,” one network insider noted. 

Below is our take on what will survive from the spring primetime lineup, shows either currently on the air or that just recently wrapped their seaons—with reporting drawn from a combination of Nielsen ratings (less important than ever) and conversations with broadcast network insiders (more important than ever). Let’s start with… 

CBS

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Safe  

2 Broke Girls 

The Amazing Race

The Big Bang Theory

Blue Bloods

Criminal Minds

Elementary 

The Good Wife: It’s all about the reviews … 

Hawaii Five-0

Madam Secretary

Mike & Molly

Mom

NCIS

NCIS: LA

NCIS: NO

Scorpion

Survivor

Undercover Boss

Bubble

CSI: Hard to imagine this flagship veteran series won’t at least come back for a partial final season.

CSI: Cyber: That “CSI” in the title holds some weight (even if its performance doesn’t).

Person of Interest: Soft ratings and not owned by CBS, which is a worrisome combo.

The Odd Couple: Felix and Oscar need to stop losing viewers.

Endangered

Battle CreekBreaking Bored. Does creator Vince Gilligan even watch this show?

The McCarthys: Was pulled from the schedule, but we’re hearing it’s not actually dead.

Stalker: Critics often wish broadcast TV shows were darker and took more chances. This is the wrong way of doing that.

FOX

Adam Taylor/Fox

Safe

American Idol

Bob’s Burgers

Bones: Expected to come back, assuming all the actor deals close.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Empire

Family Guy

Gotham

Hell’s Kitchen 

The Last Man on Earth

MasterChef Junior 

New Girl

The Simpsons

Sleepy Hollow: A surprise early renewal with new showrunner (who we bet will kill off Katrina Crane three more times for good measure).

Bubble 

The Mindy Project: Mindy eats, drinks and sleeps on the bubble. Same as always: Ratings low, but the press and advertisers like the show.

Endangered

Backstrom and The Following: Odds are, at most, only one of these crime dramas will come back. And Backstrom has the slight edge given Fox’s strong relationship with producer Hart Hanson (Bones).

Red Band Society: One of those not-officially-canceled-but-canceled series.

Weird Loners: No. 

NBC

2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
NBC

Safe

The Biggest Loser

The Blacklist

Celebrity Apprentice: Already renewed—unless Donald Trump’s White House ambitions get in the way. (So let’s all pray it returns!)

Chicago Fire

Chicago P.D.

Grimm

Law & Order: SVU

The Sing-Off

The Voice

Bubble

About a Boy and Marry Me: Neither are pulling good numbers, yet both are considered to be working creatively—”They’re not broken shows,” as one source put it.

The Mysteries of Laura: Ahem. You know what the biggest mystery is?

Undateable and One Big Happy: Still early and numbers are soft, but NBC insiders are somewhat happy with these two so far.

Endangered

A to Z and Bad Judge: Never officially axed this fall, so we’re including them here. But… yes, axed.

Constantine: A rare super-powered disappointment from DC that’s not expected to return.

State of Affairs: When it comes to holding a Voice lead-in, Katherine Heigl is no James Spader.

NEXT: THE CW AND ABC

[pagebreak]

The CW

Cate Cameron/The CW

Safe—“We’re The CW! Everyone’s a winner! Yaaaay!”

The 100 

America’s Next Top Model

Arrow

Beauty and the Beast

The Flash 

Jane the Virgin

Reign

Supernatural

The Originals

The Vampire Diaries

Whose Line is it Anyway

Bubble

iZombie: Still early in its run, so it’s tough to say. But we bet this freshman drama will live on. You have to really die hard to get axed on The CW. 

Endangered

Hart of Dixie: Beep … beep …….. beep ………….. beeeeeeep…………………

ABC

Safe

America’s Funniest Home Videos

The Bachelor

Black-ish

Castle: Hearing conflicting rumors on whether next year could be announced as a final season.

Dancing with the Stars

Fresh Off the Boat 

The Goldbergs 

Grey’s Anatomy

How to Get Away with Murder

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

The Middle 

Modern Family

Once Upon a Time

Scandal

Shark Tank 

Bubble—BC has a lot of bubble shows this year, which means there are a lot of options for the network. Which makes the rest of these predictions less certain than our above picks.

Agent Carter: Coin-flip. If Agent Carter gets a second season, it’s most likely because of the Marvel-ABC relationship. 

American Crime: The ratings make this midseason drama look doomed, but I’m hearing it’s actually likely to return given its acclaim.

Cristela: You wouldn’t think so.

Last Man Standing: Aptly named.

Nashville: Considered likely but not certain 

Secrets and Lies: Likely to return.

Endangered 

Forever

Galavant: Might have a sad song to sing come May.

Revenge: Very likely a final season order IF it comes back.

Resurrection: Won’t get, well, resurrected.

“Wait, where’s ABC’s Mistresses, NBC’s Parenthood or CBS’ The Millers?” If a show isn’t listed here, chances are it’s a summer series, hasn’t premiered yet, or was canceled/concluded earlier this season.

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