Ratings Bubble Report: Is ‘Nashville’ season 4 doing enough to merit season 5 renewal?

Nashville -There are few shows on network TV that have the devoted following of “Nashville” through four seasons. Unfortunately, the vast majority of shows also have a much larger casual base. This is one of those series where you either love it and watch religiously, you gave up a few seasons ago, or you haven’t watched at all. There isn’t much of a contingent who just turns on an episode here and there and finds the show “okay.”

Thanks to this, the Connie Britton series finds itself in yet another ratings pickle this year, as ABC has to figure out whether or not the ratings justify keeping the show alive. Critics are generally positive on the show, though not as much as in the past, and its music does get it more attention online. Can these components bring the show closer to a renewal?

The good news – People who still watch the show really love it, and we get the sense that the network feels the same way. They’ve kept it around despite lower ratings in the past, and they could be inclined to do so again. There is a lot of sameness when you look across many of the networks, and this is a product that you can label as 100% different. There are few other series tackling this subject matter, and we think it gives ABC some attention in the press as a result.

The bad news – Unfortunately, press and uniqueness do not buy ratings. “Nashville” is barely averaging over a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demographic this season, which is down 20% from season 3’s overall average. Season 3 only lost around 9% of its season 2 audience, so that decline was a little more manageable. The scary thing for this show is that it hasn’t hit a 1.0 for a single episode since November, and typically many shows suffer some declines in the spring. How many people will be there when the show returns later this year?

One other reason we worry for now is because we don’t get the sense that this is a cheap show to make, and it certainly is rather time-consuming for the cast and crew. At a certain point the attention may not be worth the price tag.

Renewal odds – A total toss-up. The only reason we’re not saying “moderately low” to “low” as we have with other shows with similar numbers is because we know that ABC really likes the show, and we think that they’d like to give it a final season with a proper ending. Granted, there may still be time to write an ending in to this season if they act soon.

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