We had actually scheduled to do “Law & Order: SVU” for our daily Ratings Bubble Report series at the start of the month, but the timing couldn’t be any more serendipitous given that we’re writing this following the drama’s best ratings of the season. This is the longest-running scripted drama on network TV at present, and we know that this will always raise speculation about if the end is near. However, at the same time Mariska Hargitay and company are making a pretty strong case for why they should stay around.
As with every other show that we’ve spotlighted, there are both things to celebrate, and also things to worry about when it comes to the long-term future.
The good news – In doing this series of articles for two weeks now, “SVU” is the first show we’ve analyzed to actually increase its average rating in the 18-49 demographic compared to the season before. This is even more impressive when you consider that the majority of these episodes aired against both “Empire” (a ratings monster) and “Criminal Minds” (another crime procedural). The show also remains a syndication monster, draws great repeat viewing, and has a devoted following around the world. Olivia Benson at this point may be one of the most-recognized names on television, and if you’re going to end this show, it’d be a travesty to do so without giving fans many months of advance warning.
What’s also worth noting now is when you look at some of the key cast members, it is a manageable number to help offset costs.
The bad news – It is true that many shows do get more expensive as time goes by, but clearly NBC has a great relationship with Dick Wolf given that they are practically in the process of moving 30 Rock to Chicago. They have committed more to that particular franchise at this point than “Law & Order,” and the only real danger that we could see for “SVU” is if they decided that they can get much of what they had on this show through either “Chicago PD” or a potential “Chicago Law” series.
Odds of renewal – High. We’re honestly shocked that given many of the NBC renewals already announced, “SVU” is not up there with them. Pending some disaster, it will and should be brought back for season 18.
You can head over here to get some more analysis on “SVU’s” recent season-high ratings. Also, sign up over here to get some more TV news on everything we cover, sent right to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: NBC.)