The Long Goodbye: Renewal Hopes Kept Alive in a Night of Season Finales

‘The Voice’ goes out on top; ‘Unforgettable’ makes its case for a reprieve

A handful of series broadcast their season finales Tuesday night, and while two—NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s New Girl—are already booked for a return trip in the fall, two others may have performed well enough to secure last-second renewals.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, The Voice closed out its second season with an average draw of 11.9 million total viewers and a 4.4 in the 18-to-49 demo, an improvement of 19 percent versus its freshman finale (3.7 on June 28, 2011).

The Voice closes out its second run a step ahead of Fox’s American Idol, averaging a 5.3 rating in the coveted demo to its precursor’s 5.1. That said, with five episodes to go before its May 23 finale, Idol is almost certain to finish ahead of The Voice.

One of the very few bright spots on NBC’s prime-time lineup, The Voice packs a wallop with advertisers, commanding a princely rate of approximately $210,000 per 30-second spot.

Auditions for Season 3 began in March, with an eye toward bringing The Voice back in the fall. Season 2 bowed immediately after NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XLVI and delivered 37.6 million viewers and a 16.3 in the dollar demo.

Also going on hiatus for the summer is Fox’s ensemble comedy, New Girl. Zooey Deschanel and the boys delivered 5.61 million viewers and a 2.8 rating, marking a 27 percent improvement from last week’s installment.

Though the show has developed into one of the most reliably funny comedies on the dial—thanks in large part to inspired performances by Max Greenfield (Schmidt), Jake Johnson (Nick) and Lamorne Morris (Winston)—New Girl experienced gradual ratings declines throughout its inaugural season. The series debuted on Sept. 20 to 10.3 million viewers and a 4.8 rating, and while early episodes retained much of those premiere numbers, a two-week baseball hiatus took a bite out of New Girl’s deliveries.

Fox next week is expected to announce that New Girl will be paired with the as-yet untitled Mindy Kaling project. The network will unveil its fall lineup on Monday afternoon.

New Girl was renewed on April 9.

Over at ABC, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing wrapped its first season with 6.62 million viewers and a 1.7 in the demo. While the comedy has lost nearly half its audience since it premiered Oct. 11 to 13.2 million viewers and a 3.6 rating, Last Man is expected to be renewed for a sophomore run. The same cannot be said for Cougar Town, which has received very little love from ABC since it premiered as a late midseason replacement in April 2011.

ABC rolls out its 2012-13 schedule on Tuesday afternoon.

Lastly, CBS at 10 p.m. aired the season finale of Unforgettable. The underperforming procedural averaged 10.8 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo, up two-tenths of a ratings point from last week.

Starring Poppy Montgomery as a detective who uses her extraordinary memory to solve particularly knotty crimes, Unforgettable was not among the 18 series CBS renewed on March 14.

Given the strength of its prime-time lineup, CBS has very few open slots up for grabs. But Unforgettable may have a fighter’s chance, as one of the CSI spinoffs is likely to get the ax and newbie dramas A Gifted Man and NYC 22 are dead in the water.

CBS gives media buyers a first look at its fall lineup on Wednesday afternoon.