CBS is Cancelling Popular Shows, Introducing the “Obliterated Line”, and Judge Judy Will Never End…

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(Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a newsletter on the entertainment industry and business strategy. I write a weekly Streaming Ratings Report and a bi-weekly strategy column, along with occasional deep dives into other topics, like today’s article. Please subscribe.)

Scrolling through Kasey Moore’s (of What’s on Netflix) Twitter feed, I saw Kasey sharing a bunch of examples of people/headlines calling movies “hits” when they were anything but. 

So yeah, I get why so many people in Hollywood are so frustrated about streaming ratings these days! 

Without being too conspiratorial, you almost can’t trust if an industry trade says that a new show is popular. It doesn’t mean that the show isn’t popular—we have streaming ratings now— you just can’t trust if a trade tells you that it is. Which is why I analyze streaming TV show renewals, cancellations, un-orders, removals, and so on every two or three months, so you have an accurate guide to what’s working and what isn’t these days. 

And there’s a lot of fun stuff to get to this issue…

  • We’re going to start by looking at TV shows that are switching streamers, getting removed, or shopped around. (And I’ll explain why it’s likely less shows will be switching streamers/networks in the future.)
  • Then I cover unsurprising renewals and cancellations.
  • Then I look at unpopular shows that got renewed (and explain why many of these renewals aren’t actually renewals.)
  • Then I look at shows on the bubble, introducing the “Obliterated Line” for when shows get cancelled.
  • Finally, I briefly look at some broadcast and cable renewal and cancellation shows, wondering why CBS is cancelling shows that would be hits on other broadcast channels.
  • And we close with a crazy popular show that more people need to talk about.

So let’s get right into it!

Shows Switching Streamers, Getting Shopped Around, Un-Ordered, or Removed

Unlike the past, when hit TV shows had clearly defined futures—they debuted on broadcast then moved into syndication—nowadays, TV shows can start on a streamer, then move to a different streamer, and back again. Or get removed entirely from digital existence. So let’s start by looking at TV shows that are switching streamers, getting shopped around, un-ordered or removed from their streamers. Then I’ll close with some good theatrical news. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how some recent transplants (like Max’s The Tourist, but especially Girls5Eva from Peacock) failed to hit on Netflix; the fabled “Netflix Bump” doesn’t bump every new TV show. And this may be cooling Netflix’s desire to acquired some licensed shows. For example, cancelled-professional wrestling drama, Heels, is now headed from Starz to Netflix, but it’s not getting a third season unless it does well. Here’s another weird one: TruTV cancelled Tacoma FD, even though it got 10.4 million hours viewed on the Nielsen charts when its old episodes went to Netflix this past January. I’m curious if Netflix picks it up or not. It basically did similar numbers to other shows that people thought were hits when they went to Netflix.

And other streamers/channels are following suit. Showtime had grabbed Uncoupled from Netflix after they cancelled it, but now they’re shelving it as well. And Max’s Our Flag Means Death did not get sold after being shopped around. Neither did Reboot after Hulu cancelled it. 

It turns out, cancelled shows were probably cancelled for a reason. After Minx went to Starz, they cancelled it, as I wrote about last update. Tuca & Bertie suffered the same fate a while ago. And The Roku Channel just cancelled Chad, a show they saved from TBS.

Like so many new ideas in the streaming wars, the hype didn’t match the reality. (You can blame Cobra Kai, the ur-hit show that switched streamers.) Rescuing failed shows seems to fail more than it succeeds. This doesn’t mean no shows will switch streamers in the future; it just means it’s probably going to happen a lot less in the future, and if it does, probably for a lower price.

That said, some shows are still switching channels. Out of nowhere, The Night Manager, a 2016 limited series originally on AMC, got picked up for two more seasons by Prime Video in the US. (It looks like the BBC is still producing it overseas.) AMC, meanwhile, scooped up Snowpiercer’s unaired fourth season from TNT. (I’m guessing/hoping the price is right on this one.)

In un-orders news, Ratched is not coming back, despite getting a second season order. I probably should have included this example in my Ankler article on the tech company versus traditional media company double standard in media coverage. If Bob Chapek or David Zaslav had cancelled Ratched, who knows what hell they would have endured.

Paramount Global keeps removing shows from Paramount+, most recently removing ten kids shows, including three revivals/reboots: Rugrats (2021), Blue’s Clues & You! (2019) and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and the Paramount+ Original, Big Nate. 

Now, on to the good news! That’s right, good news! 

You probably heard that Disney changed its planned Moana series to a Moana movie (smart!), but did you hear that Young Woman and the Sea, originally a Disney+ original, is also headed to theaters now? I love this switch from straight-to-streaming to theatrical, especially for more prestige-y plays like this. (It’s getting a limited release.) 

Popular Shows That Got Renewed, Unpopular Shows that Got Cancelled, and Shows Ending After Long Runs 

Okay, on to the good news, but actually should-be-obvious news: popular show renewals. Popular shows tend to get renewed, since they’re popular, shows like…

  • The Traitors. Peacock renewed The Traitors for another season, one of their rare Originals to make the Nielsen charts. Reminder, I thought Traitors first season should have come out weekly, instead of binge-released, then its second season did come out weekly, and the show made the charts. All competition reality shows should come out weekly.
  • Disney+ renewed two recent hit shows, Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Goosebumps. All last year, I meant to write about Disney’s 2022 franchise struggles; this shows a bit of a turnaround for them in 2023 with two non-Princess/Star Wars/Marvel-IP-based hits.
  • Paramount+ ordered a fourth season for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (it was already  greenlit for a third season) and Hulu did the same thing with The Bear. Both are obvious pick ups.
  • Netflix renewed Berlin, one of their rare foreign titles to make the charts in the US, Avatar: The Last Airbender will get two more seasons, then end, and Virgin River is getting a prequel series.
  • HBO renewed True Detective, and Issa Lopez will remain the series showrunner.
  • Finally, Apple TV+ renewed Monarch: Legacy of Monsters for another season and ordered a spinoff. Since this show made the Samba TV charts, it’s one of Apple’s most successful series of all time. (But it didn’t make the Nielsen charts.)

It is funny that Apple’s best performing shows aren’t prestige dramedies (mostly about class in America or grief) but a sports comedy (which everyone thought was really funny for two seasons), a thriller about a plane hijacking…and a Godzilla show. 


Okay, on to the equally unsurprising news—or news that shouldn’t be surprising, but kind of is these days—unpopular shows that got cancelled: 

  • Paramount+ cancelled Star Trek: Lower Decks.
  • Hulu cancelled This Fool after two seasons (it never should have gotten to a second) and Death and Other Details after one season.
  • Pete Davidson seemingly cancelled his own TV show, Bupkis, which shows a self-awareness most actors don’t have.
  • Freevee’s Alex Rider is now ending.

But some shows are ending after long runs, which is different than being cancelled. (Most of the time.) Like Netflix’s The Witcher, which will be ending after its fifth season. I loved this tweet from Kasey Moore:

Prime Video’s Upload is coming to an end after its fourth season. While it made the charts back in the 2020 Covid times, it fell off greatly since then and was a bomb of the year nominee this year. 

On broadcast, both Blue Bloods and The Connors are ending after long runs. 

Red vs. Blue is coming to an end after two decades. Yeah, this isn’t a title on a major streamer, but it’s an iconic internet show, being one of the first examples of machinima. (Man, I feel old.)

Finally, Spanish show Wrong Side of the Tracks is coming to end after its fourth season.

Unpopular Shows that Got Renewed

Okay, now we get to the confusing/frustrating part of this issue, where we mention the unpopular shows that got renewed despite not making the streaming ratings charts.

First, for many of these renewals—like Disney+’s Limitless With Chris Hemsworth, Max’s On the Roam (starring Jason Mamoa), and Paramount+’s Frasier reboot—I’m guessing that the second season order was part of the original deal for the show, they just announced it later. (In other words, these are kind of fake renewals.) 

Apple TV+ continues ordering future seasons for TV shows which don’t make the ratings charts, including For All Mankind (which is also getting a spinoff show set in Russia!), The Last Thing He Told Me and Invasion. The explanation for “why” is simple: Apple doesn’t have profit pressure guiding their decisions, so they can green light shows that would get cancelled on other streamers.

Netflix renewed Survival of the Thickest, which I’m assuming must be very inexpensive to make. Same goes for Aussie import Colin From Accounts on Paramount+. 

“Bubble” Shows, Edge Cases and Surprising Decisions

Okay, on to the more confusing decisions that aren’t as clear or straight-forward.  

Right as I went to print, er, email for my last renewals and cancellations update, Netflix cancelled Obliterated, which is fascinating, because it was in the top 25 for new shows last year. 

I debated whether this represents something new. Call it the hypothetical “Obliterated Line”, the minimum ratings a show needs to get a second season order on Netflix. 

But it’s hard to say if this line actually works to predict cancellations. First, every show has a different budget. (Like Survival of the Thickest, which got renewed with much lower ratings, but is also much, much cheaper than Obliterated.) Next, the scripted shows right below Obliterated in the ratings (Who is Erin Carter, All the Light We Cannot See and Kaleidoscope) were all limited series or they haven’t been renewed or cancelled yet, so we don’t know if this line actually works. Mainly, though, Obliterated comes from Sony. Since Netflix probably doesn’t own the show outright, it needed to be a bigger hit than other in-house Originals to get another season order. 

But then Netflix cancelled The Brothers Sun, which had very similar ratings to Obliterated. 

So maybe it’s time to start using the Obliterated Line? 

Netflix renewed Formula 1: Drive to Survive for a seventh season though I think that this show is really overrated in terms of impact, its small-ish ratings almost certainly justify its budget. (It’s domestic ratings were up, but global ratings were down.)

Paramount+’s Evil is ending after its fourth season, meanwhile Sky Med got renewed. Both shows are letdowns—neither made the ratings charts—but SkyMed is a Canadian-import, which probably explains the renewal. 

It’s hard to say whether kids shows should get renewed or not, since they rarely make the Nielsen charts, like both the latest Dora reboot on Paramount and Disney+’s A Real Bug’s Life getting second two orders. Same goes for SuperKitties and Pupstruction. One trade publication described them as very popular, but didn’t provide any data to back that up.

Netflix renewed four foreign-language shows (Barracuda Queens, Valeria, 1670, and Maestro in Blue). They didn’t make the charts in America, but it’s a question of foreign ratings, which I don’t track in my weekly Streaming Ratings Report. 

But if you want confusing, wait until you get to the next section…

Broadcast/Cable Channel Renewals and Cancellations

I normally don’t cover broadcast shows, but we’re in the midst of renewal season for the broadcasters and a couple of interesting broadcast renewal and cancellation tidbits stuck out, especially for their strategic insights. 

CBS basically renewed everything: Tracker (their mega-hit new show), The Equalizer, Elsbeth S.W.A.T. (which has been cancelled twice already), The Neighborhood, NCIS, F.B.I., F.B.I.: Most Wanted, F.B.I.: International, Fire Country, Ghosts, and NCIS: Sydney.

What’s weirder is the shows they cancelled: NCIS: Hawai’i, CSI: Vegas and So Help Me Todd, the 12th, 21st, and 22nd most watched broadcast shows. Nellie Andreeva described CBS as “getting rid of shows other networks would’ve been happy to renew” to make room for their new shows next fall. If these shows were on streamers, all three would have been in the top 25 last year. 

If you want to know which shows the streamers should pick up, it’s these three.

Related, procedurals are still really, really popular. NBC renewed five of their Dick Wolf procedurals (Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D., Law & Order, and Law & Order: SVU.) while Law & Order: Organized Crime might head to Peacock. ABC renewed The Rookie, Will Trent, and 9-1-1. 

They also renewed The Bachelorette and I can’t wait to see if this shows up on the streaming acquired charts next year, after Nielsen’s big change. 

And five sitcoms have been renewed: NBC’s Night Court and Lopez vs. Lopez, Fox’s Animal Control and ABC’s Abbott Elementary and the final season of The Connors.

CBS also renewed The Young and the Restless, a soap opera! If I were Hulu, Prime Video or Netflix, I’d try making one of these one day. 

In more obscure channel news, BET and BET+ renewed eight Tyler Perry shows, Ms. Pat, and Haus of Vicious. How many people are watching BET+?

Starz renewed three shows—Power Book III: Raising Kanan, BMF, and Power Book II: Ghost— along with a Powers spinoff, which gives me the opportunity to share a tweet I’ve been holding on to for a while. This datecdote from the Starz CEO Jeff Hirsch is fascinating:

And how is Starz doing it? With shows like BMF, which had 5.1 million viewers over its opening weekend, but only 200K people tuned in live.

I’ll close with this: Judge Judy is going to be syndicated to 95% of the country for another two years. Not Judy Justice (the Amazon Freevee spinoff), Judge Judy. The original. That means that episodes of a show that went off the air 3 years ago are still be sold for real money to broadcasters. 

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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