"waiting with breathless suspense for the renewal" [REDC]
As reported by Deadline's Elementary and The Amazing Race [also renewed on May 13] surprisingly did not make the list of early CBS renewals for the first time, spending their first spring on the bubble. But there never was serious doubt for the crime drama, 100% owned by CBS, which had been making writer staffing deals for next season, and for the most heralded reality series of the past decade. While its linear ratings in the Sunday 10 PM hour are soft (7.4 million viewers, 1.2 in 18-49 Live+7), Elementary has off-network and SVOD deals with WGN America, Hulu Plus and broadcast stations that fetch in as much as $3 million total per episode; and it is a nice international seller too. Just last May, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves used Elementary as an example of a program ownership success story, telling investors that the show had 'made approximately an $80 million profit for the corporation' the previous year."
In fact, Elementary's ratings make it one of the lowest of scripted TV shows. But, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, the ratings are just one and not necessarily the most important factor in deciding the future of the show. Elementary "had been buried on Sunday nights, often airing outside of primetime thanks to NFL delays in the fall. But lucrative library deals and international appeal have kept the CBS TV Studios production in favor, and will continue to do so."
While the US fan base might be small, it is dedicated and the show does well in overseas markets. As mentioned in a previous IHOSE post ("Interview with Nadia Alexander, Elementary's Hope Neligan"), USA Today's Save Our Show Poll had it a very close number two show to be saved; out of over 146,000 votes, it was only 1350 votes behind ABC's Timeless, which did not survive the renewal ax. TV Series Finale's still open poll has 88% of voters wanting to keep Elementary on the air.
As the networks announce their fall schedule line-up, Elementary is slated for midseason with 13 episodes. In the meantime, Lucy Liu will keep busy in the off-season playing Veronica, a highly successful and morally dubious alpha-female book editor on Hulu's 10 episode third season of Difficult People.
Late addition: NBC changed its mind on Timeless and renewed it for a second season.