It’s that time of the year when our favorite shows come to an end for the season; often times in the form of a cliffhanger and we are left all summer wishing October would hurry up and get here. Unless of course your favorite show is cancelled; meaning you’ll never see how that storyline gets wrapped up. Fair or not; that’s the television business for you. The keyword here being business.
Television has been called brutal and cutthroat and the broadcast networks are the epitome of the industry. Loyal fans showing up each week, brilliant writing and a stellar cast means absolutely nothing if a series doesn't hit some mysterious number network execs have set as a goal. Reaching that goal means more green for the corporations behind the networks we watch. Compelling dramas or multiple awards doesn't matter if a show doesn't maximize the network’s bottom line.
With literally hundreds of entertainment options on broadcast and cable television and with even more options online, TV networks are finding that the goose that once laid big golden eggs have dramatically shrunk in size. In the early 1980’s one of TV’s most popular primetime dramas “Dallas” aired on CBS. Its highest rated episode had more than 33 million viewers. This season’s highest rated show was “NCIS”. Its most watched episode was just shy of 21 million viewers. However when it comes to TV ratings; the number of viewers watching may be irrelevant.
Broadcasters and advertisers only care about viewers in a particular demographic; adults 18-49. Because anyone 50 or older doesn't buy products or change their shopping habits apparently. The percentage of adults in that key demographic has been shrinking over the years. Considering mid-range shows average anywhere from seven to ten million viewers; even if a show pulls in seven million each week, it could still be jeopardy if it’s not performing well in the 18-49 demographic.
The Chopping Block
NBC took an ax to nearly every new drama and comedy it produced this season. Of the 11 shows that debuted this season, only 2 have been renewed. “Chicago PD,” the Dick Wolf spin off to “Chicago Fire” and the espionage drama “The Blacklist,” starring James Spader have been granted a second season.
Over at ABC, the network slashed 12 shows from its upcoming season. Earlier this year ABC pulled a fast one and switch an episode of “Killer Women” to help accelerate its plans to cancel the series. The move really didn’t sit well with the viewers that showed each week. Hundreds of viewers voiced their outrage on the show’s Facebook page. The good news; “Grey’s Anatomy” minus Sandra Oh, “Revenge” and “Scandal” have been renewed.
Of the big four networks, CBS had the fewest cancellations, just six so far; not counting “How I Met Your Mother”. Not surprisingly, “Hostages” didn’t make it to a second season, neither did “Intelligence” starring Marg Helgenberger and Josh Holloway.
Fox is cancelling eight shows including “American Dad” which is moving to the Atlanta basic cable network TBS and “Almost Human” staring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. I don’t think anyone was surprised that “Rake” was on the list. The show staring Greg Kinnear doesn’t measure up to the Australian series it’s adapted from.