On the Chopping Block: Which TV Shows Will Survive the Axe This Season?

The entertainment industry has its own  seasonal version of of the French Revolution, with some shows slid beneath the guillotine every year. How decisions are made in choosing which shows must go is a complicated process, and one that is by necessity about more than the subjective “good” or “bad” qualities of a program.

Before we move on to which shows are looking up at a shiny blade this season, let’s take a look at how these decisions are made. The most obvious concern that networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the CW have is that of viewership.

How many people are tuning in to watch a show and what kind of people are they? According to Philly.com, television advertisers tend to prefer the age group between 18 and 49, basically hitting the largest TV audience. This means that networks, too, look to see how their audience’s ages range. Networks also consider whether viewership has grown or shrunken since the pilot — in other words, what kind of potential the show has.

Other issues to consider are based on what the network has available for competition. If it has a number of highly promising pilots, it likely won’t hold on to a show it’s on the fence about. International reception is also a concern. Just because Americans are a little less than impressed with content doesn’t mean there isn’t an enthusiastic audience somewhere else.

Some content, like Game of Thrones, has an incredibly high production cost. If the fan base for this HBO series wasn’t so enormous and enthusiastic, the network couldn’t justify the expense. Other shows are very low budget while still pulling in a considerable amount of revenue and popularity — a good example of this would be most reality TV programs.

It could also be that a show adds some variety to the network’s schedule in a way that other programs don’t. If CBS were looking to get into a certain type of comedy it sees finding success on other channels, it might hold onto a show that is unique to the network even if it hasn’t quite taken off yet. Of course, devoted followers and quality aren’t entirely disregarded. They have a place in the decision-making process — they just aren’t the deciding factors.

According to TV by the Numbers, most broadcast television shows have cancellation and renewal deadlines for their announcements, and for 2014, the dates for NBC, Fox, Univision, ABC, CBS, and the CW will likely have decisions on which shows will make it and which will be cut somewhere between May 11 and May 15. For the most part, the chips will all be cast by that point in a more official sense, but for now, let’s take a look at what we do know.

American Horror Story is set to return for its fourth season, according to Entertainment News, and Jessica Lange, who has been in all three previous seasons, announced that she’ll be back for the upcoming one, as well. The X Factor will be leaving, heaving been canceled after its third season, Reuters reports. ”I’ve had a fantastic time over the last 12 years,” said the show’s judge and creator, Simon Cowell, to Reuters. “Apart from being lucky enough to find some amazing talent on the shows, I have always had an incredible welcome from the American public (most of the time!).”

America’s Next Top Model will be back this summer, too, as will the CW’s superhero success, Arrow. The creepy-but-successful Bates Motel is being kept by A&E for a second season, NBC will be holding on to The Blacklist, and HBO will give Boardwalk Empire its final season. Orphan Black, Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars will be back, but the latter’s spin off, Ravenswood, is being canceled.

Bones will return for a 10th season and will be moved back to its Monday time slot, according to Entertainment News. Glee is getting a final season, as is Mad Men, and Dancing with the Stars will return, as well — but the Michael J. Fox Show has been cut. Downton Abbey has been renewed, which likely comes as no surprise to anyone given its success. While Sherlock Holmes remake Elementary doesn’t have an official green light yet, Entertainment News says the series’ future looks promising, especially considering the overall popularity of this late-1800s sleuth.

For some series, no word means very little, as shows like Family Guy, NCIS, and Game of Thrones are unlikely to be canceled. For others, such as Dads and the Mindy Project, things are looking less positive. According to TV Guide, MTV is canceling Teen Mom 3, and NBC is canceling Ironside and Welcome to the Family, while choosing to keep Community and Chicago PD.

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