I don't know much about the logistics of TV series, but I remember a few years ago I watched the first season of a new TV series and really liked it, but it was cancelled. I'm watching a new series (Limitless) and like it a ton, but since it hasn't been as popular as other TV series (from what I can tell), I'm worried it will be canceled like the other (I honestly have no idea, though).

I did a little research and learned about the Nielsen ratings. After learning what these meant, I found that Limitless has about a 1.5/5 on average (via the Wikipedia page). Since it's on CBS on Tuesday nights, which seems like a valuable time, is this enough to justify another season?

What is the minimum Nielsen rating necessary to justify another season in general? Can this even be put down to a specific minimum? Or are there usually also other factors involved?

  • 1
    If i am not wrong it varies from channel to channel – Ankit Sharma Jan 13 '16 at 5:57
  • What would be an example of one though? – Matt Goodrich Jan 13 '16 at 5:57
  • 1
    iZombie rating were less then Constantine but still Constantine got canceled and iZombie renewed for second season. Constantine was from NBC and iZombie from CW. – Ankit Sharma Jan 13 '16 at 6:04
  • I see, so it's just not a very reliable measure I guess. Thanks! :) – Matt Goodrich Jan 13 '16 at 6:09
  • I think, its considered for renewing a show but it depend on which channel it premier on and whats there standard rating. And many more factor too. Anyways i have nothing against the question as a whole. – Ankit Sharma Jan 13 '16 at 6:20

Ultimately, it comes down to how much money the show profits. That comes down to 3 factors, income, expenses, and expectations.

Income Mainly comes from advertisements. Advertisers pay not just based on the number of viewers, but the demographics. 80 year old men spend less money than someone in their 30s. They are willing to pay more to advertise to people more likely to buy their product.

Expenses How much does the show cost to make? That would include the cast, crew, writers, advertising, special effects, etc. Every new season typically comes with pay raises, so that has to be accounted for in projecting future expenses.

Expectations What is the expected profit? A Monday night show is expected to make more than a Friday night show. CBS expects to have higher profits than CW.

My advice is to compare the ratings of the show you are interested in (Limitless) to other shows in the same time slot. My personal opinion is that it is doing fairly well for a 10pm time slot, though it has been trending downward in ratings.


It really has nothing to do with the ratings.

I worked for an advertising agency in college. For some shows you can expect to pay 3-5 times as much to advertise on the show than average. Most companies are looking to advertise to 14-30 years old. As companies like to brain-wash you while your brain is still forming and this is the age period where most people develop brand loyalty.

So the age and demographics of the users is really big. But it isn't as easy as slicing the pie and saying 60% of the viewers are under 30 and we have 10 million viewers, so that means 6 million in your demographic, so pay us $xxx based on those users. There is also the "cool" factor. In that a show may have a really intense user base, a show may have a lot of press, or whatever. Then it becomes basically a bidding war unless your agency locked in a long-term contract.

This shows how old I am but the best example of this that I know is "Party of Five". Pretty lame teenie bopper drama (IMO) and was one of the worst rated shows on TV. But almost all of its viewers where under 25, it had a cult following and its cast was getting tons of press. I remember we had to pay out the ass to get our stuff on the show based on industry averages at the time.

Another important factor is network backing. You can kind of tell this by the slot a new show gets and the advertising. If the network is all in on a show and they like it, well they will spend more money for another season even if the previous season "lost money".

There are also tons of intangibles related to costs and crew. You have a lot of actors crossing over between movies and TV so there is competition and unknown cost of keeping actors. You have foreign viewers to think about as some shows do really well overseas and some don't translate.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .