Who is TV Grim Reaper?

Bill Gorman co-founded TV by the Numbers with Robert Seidman prior to the 2007-8 TV season. He began predicting TV show renewals and cancellations during the 2008-9 TV season. In 2009, he created The Cancellation Bear character to engage in the prediction process.

In 2014, he & Seidman sold TV by the Numbers and The Cancellation Bear (sadly, both now RIP) to Tribune Digital Ventures. He remained under contract to Tribune Digital Ventures as The Cancellation Bear for the 2014-15 TV season.

He created TV Grim Reaper in September, 2015 to continue with predictions.

When Do Predictions Happen?

Predictions for the renewal or cancellation of all broadcast scripted shows that have premiered that season, are published weekly on Mondays at about 8am Pacific during the US broadcast TV season (late Sept - mid May).

Why the name TV Grim Reaper?

Inspiration from media back in the Cancellation Bear’s heyday.

Past Prediction Record

Bill Gorman’s prediction record as the Cancellation Bear at TVbytheNumbers.com(RIP) from Sept, 2009 — May, 2015, and as TV Grim Reaper since Sept, 2015.



A = correct predictions

B = incorrect predictions

C = shows renewed or canceled while predicted a “toss up” (not included in % calculation) “Toss up” predictions ended with the 2016-17 season.

How Do TV Ratings Work?

While this video from ESPN is getting old it’s still worth watching to understand how Nielsen measures the viewing of Nielsen family members and their in-home guests.

What’s changed since that video was made?

Nielsen now measures the TV connected device viewing and out of home viewing of Nielsen family members.

Important Notes

  • If you’re not a member of, or a guest viewing in, a Nielsen family household, your viewing is never measured for TV ratings.

  • The C3 commercial ratings mentioned in the video (now also C7 for commercial viewing up to 7 days after airdate) are what advertisers pay for, and are the only ratings that matter for ad revenue. C3 commercial ratings are rarely seen in public, but when they are they’re very close to the Live+Same Day program ratings you see every day and C7 ratings are typically only a few % more.

Nielsen’s Brian Fuhrer talking about the TV ratings process

Watch the video.

What Matters For The Renewal Or Cancellation Of Your Favorite TV Shows?

The short answer to the headline question is “money”.

But since the networks aren’t sharing their show by show finances with the public, we have to try and triangulate the situation of each show from the publicly available information and the networks’ historical behavior.

What’s publicly known that matters:

  • Current season adults 18-49 ratings relative to other scripted shows on the same network. Adults 18-49 ratings translate to ad revenue for the network.

  • Show age/network history. Shows in seasons 1 & 2 are most at risk of cancellation because of low relative ratings. Shows that receive a 3rd season are almost always given a 4th. Shows get relatively more expensive as they get older, and the expense of old shows (> season 4) begins to be a negative factor. Cast contracts are typically renegotiated after season 6 or 7, and that increased expense often leads to cancellation.

  • Who produces the show. When the studio is part of the same corporation as the network any future revenue benefits the corporation. Shows produced by the network’s in-house studio have a survival advantage over shows produced by a third party studio.

What doesn’t matter:

  • Ratings vs. shows on other networks, including “winning” a timeslot or night. Shows on NBC are not in competition for renewal with shows on ABC or CBS, only with other shows on NBC.

  • Delayed viewing (Live + 3, Live +7) because almost no one watches the ads

  • Total viewership, advertisers only pay for adults 18-49 viewers

  • Critic reviews & awards


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US Broadcast Scripted TV Show Renewal & Cancellation Predictions


TV Grim Reaper

US Broadcast Scripted TV Show Renewal & Cancellation Predictions Every Monday Follow on Twitter @TVGrimReaper