Tracing odds on next show to get the ax

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Entertainment,Associated Press

Watch out, Fox. The Cancellation Bear is gaining on you.

The website TV by the Numbers is making sport out of predicting which television series will survive or disappear, and the first weeks of a new TV season are particularly busy. The Renew/Cancel Index is a popular feature, where all the broadcast networks' shows are given ratings from one (certain to be cancelled) to five (certain to be renewed).

Less than four weeks into the new season, one series -- CBS' "Made in Jersey" -- is already swimming with the fishes. The site gives six other shows the dreaded single frowning face. Site co-founder Bill Gorman, asked to go out on a limb, predicted "The Mob Doctor" on Fox will be next to disappear, but NBC's "Animal Practice" was cancelled on Thursday.

Gorman and partner Robert Seidman regularly tweet about their predictions as "The Cancellation Bear." The name refers to the old joke about two men being chased by a bear; you don't have to be faster than the bear, just outrun the other guy. Most TV shows just need better ratings than other programs on their network to survive.

The men, who started the site in 2007 to report news on television ratings, said people follow their favorite shows like they would sports teams, and are increasingly savvy about the business of entertainment.

"The difference between the shows and sports teams is, if the Yankees have a bad year, they're not going out of business," Gorman said.

Networks invest high hopes and a lot of money to make new series but inevitably many -- often most -- quickly fail. Late October is a big decision-making time because networks must determine if they will pay for a full season's worth of shows and, if a program is doing poorly, quickly replace it with something that could pull in higher ratings during the November ratings sweeps.

Other series that the Cancellation Bear suggests not getting attached to are the CBS comedy "Partners," the ABC thriller "Last Resort" and creepy "666 Park Avenue," and the NBC comedy "Up All Night."

Gorman, who started the site with Seidman after noticing there wasn't another blog that regularly discussed television ratings, said the numbers usually make their rankings clear.

"We're not splitting the atom," Gorman said. "We're just stating the obvious, and the only reason we're unique is nobody else is stating the obvious."

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