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Cancellation Clock Is Ticking for a Handful of New Series

After just a few weeks, 'Betrayal,' 'Welcome to the Family' and others are in real trouble

It’s only three weeks into the new season, but the gap between the “hits” and “busts” among the rookie class has grown pretty large.

Dramas “The Blacklist” (NBC), “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox) and “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (ABC) have all impressed, while CBS is doing reasonably well with new Robin Williams comedy “The Crazy Ones.”

On the other hand, it’s already over for a pair of newbies — ABC’s “Lucky 7” and CBS’ “We Are Men” were axed after just two airings — and the clock is ticking for a handful more.

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The networks like to put their best foot forward in November for the sweep, so mid-to-late October is typically when decisions are made to shore up the schedule. DVR playback can certainly help keep a struggling series stay on the air longer, but most times the networks don’t need to wait for that data to know that a show simply isn’t clicking.

The rookie series that would seem to be the most in danger — and in dire need of a ratings uptick — are NBC’s Thursday comedy “Welcome to the Family” and ABC’s Sunday drama “Betrayal.” Both did a mere 0.8 rating/2 share in adults 18-49 in their timeslots last week, according to Nielsen.

Fairing only a bit better, with a 3 share, were CBS’ “Hostages” and NBC’s “Ironside” and “Sean Saves the World.” Another show that would be on this list based on its performance, NBC’s “The Michael J. Fox Show,” isn’t going anywhere because the Peacock has made a full-season commitment.

NBC’s entire Thursday lineup is generating tiny numbers, and some change is expected soon.

CBS has similarly struggled with some new shows on Monday, and is doing what it can to provide a stronger lead-in for “Hostages” at 10. The net canceled the ineffective “We Are Men” after two episodes, changed timeslots for “2 Broke Girls” and has slotted the return of “Mike & Molly” for the night starting Nov. 4. Another first-year show, “Mom,” continues to do OK in the 9:30 slot.

Looking at the third week of the season, “The Voice,” “Sunday Night Football” and hot new drama “The Blacklist” proved too much for the competition as NBC led in adults 18-49 for a third straight week. The net is off to its highest-rated start in three seasons, and its advantage over runner-up CBS (0.6) is the largest for any network at this point in 10 years.

Last week, NBC averaged a 2.7/8 in the demo, followed in the rankings by Fox (2.4/8), CBS (1.9/5) and ABC (1.8/5). NBC also won in adults 25-54, while CBS was on top as usual in total viewers.

NBC’s “The Voice” was the week’s No. 3-rated entertainment series in 18-49 (4.6/13), and is teaming with “The Blacklist” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.18m) to win Monday.

But while NBC beat its rivals in every half-hour on its “Voice” nights of Monday and Tuesday, it trailed them in every half-hour on Wednesday and Thursday. NBC should benefit next week from the debut of its Friday lineup, featuring “Grimm” and newcomer “Dracula.”

Elsewhere, Fox was led by Thursday’s “Glee” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 7.39m), whose tribute to Corey Montieth produced the show’s top same-night rating since its year-ago season premiere. Also for the net, “Junior MasterChef” continues to perform well on Friday (1.4/5 in 18-49, 3.92m), up a bit from the prior week.

At ABC, “Super Fun Night” held up OK on Wednesday in its second week (2.5/7 in 18-49, 6.64m), retaining 64% of the same-night demo rating of “Modern Family” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 10.64m) after holding 76% in its premiere a week earlier.

It was a lethargic bow, meanwhile, for Thursday’s “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.82m),

Second-year half-hour “The Neighbors” is looking shaky on Friday (0.9/3 in 18-49, 4.12m), and it’s certainly making life more difficult for the shows it sandwiches on the schedule (“Last Man Standing” and “Shark Tank”). Still, “Shark Tank” is the night’s No. 1 show in 18-49.

CBS could be pleased with the second week of “The Millers” on Thursday (3.0/9 in 18-49, 11.73m), retaining 91% of its premiere — the best 18-49 hold of any new series this fall.

There were three notable cable performers last week, led by “The Walking Dead” (8.2/19 in 18-49, 16.11 million viewers overall), which shattered its previous record for the top-rated basic cable series telecast of all time. It was the week’s No. 2 program in 18-49, behind “Sunday Night Football” (8.4/22), but will easily overtake the game with DVR playback.

There was also FX’s “American Horror Story” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 5.54m), which opened its third season with record numbers and led its hour in 18-49, and “Sons of Anarchy” (2.5/7), 4.46m), which beat the broadcast series in its timeslot as well.

And of course, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” continues to score big (3.2/10 in 18-49, 7.40m).

NETWORK AVERAGES

Adults 18-49

NBC             2.7/8
Fox              2.4/7
CBS              1.9/5
ABC              1.8/5
UNI              1.2/4
CW               0.7/2
TEL               0.5/1

Total Viewers

CBS            9.23 million
NBC           8.44 million
Fox            7.49 million
ABC           6.99 million
UNI           3.19 million
CW            1.70 million
TEL            1.14 million

WEEK’S TOP PROGRAMS

Adults 18-49
1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 8.4/22
2.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 8.2/19
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.1/17
4.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 4.6/13
5.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 4.4/13
6.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.9/11
7.  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 3.2/10
8.  The Blacklist (NBC), 3.1/9
8.  Scandal (ABC), 3.1/9
8.  Thursday Night Football (NFLN), 3.1/9
8.  American Horror Story (FX), 3.1/9
12.  The Millers (CBS), 3.0/9
12.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.0/9
12.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.0/9
15.  Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC), 2.9/9
15.  Glee (Fox), 2.9/8
17.  NCIS (CBS), 2.8/9
17.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.8/8
17.  Sleepy Hollow (Fox), 2.8/7
20.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 2.6/7
20.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.6/7

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  Sunday Night Football (NBC), 22.07
2.  NCIS (CBS), 18.33
3.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.64
4.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 16.11
5.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 14.84
6.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 14.64
7.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 13.00
8.  The Millers (CBS), 11.73
9.  Person of Interest (CBS), 11.65
10.  Monday Night Football (ESPN), 11.45
11.  The Blacklist (NBC), 11.18
12.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 10.98
13.  Modern Family (ABC), 10.64
14.  60 Minutes (CBS), 10.62
15.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.56
16.  Castle (ABC), 10.51
17.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 10.20
18.  The Crazy Ones (CBS), 9.69
19.  Survivor (CBS), 9.60
20.  The Mentalist (CBS), 9.39

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