We’ve gone an entire month into the fall TV season without a single canceled show. That’s amazing.
Last year, the first canceled show was on Oct. 4 (ABC’s Lucky 7). In 2012, it was on Oct. 10 (CBS’ Made In Jersey). In 2011, Oct. 4 struck again (NBC’s The Playboy Club). Usually, the first canceled show is followed within a week or so by a second and third.
Yet here we are, on Oct. 21, with four weeks of new shows behind us (more weeks for some early launching titles, like Fox’s Red Band Society and Utopia). And yet, the new shows are still standing. The broadcast ax sits in the corner of the woodshed, gleaming and unused.
What’s the holdup? Do we have a schedule chock full of new big hits? Hahahahaha. No. There are definitely titles begging for their misery to end—like NBC’s A to Z, ABC’s Manhattan Love Story (my pick in the EW office deadpool) and pretty much every new Fox show except Gotham.
There has been a couple key demotions since the start of the season—reality effort Utopia was taken off Tuesday nights and it now just stinks up Fridays. Fox’s comedy Mulaney saw its episode order reduced from 16 to 13 episodes. They’re shows walking, but still walking.
Industry insiders cite some factors at play.
DVR, as usual, gets some of the blame/credit. Networks are taking longer to evaluate given the steep amount of time-shifted viewing going on. Full DVR numbers take a few weeks to come in. The premiere-week episode of Red Band Society grew a whopping 82 percent via DVR. But insiders suggest any DVR hesitation is partly cosmetic and PR driven too — executives realize they can’t keep saying publicly that everybody needs to take into consideration DVR playback rather than judging their shows off initial numbers, then axe a show before full data on a couple episodes have come in.
Fox in particular likes to wait, if possible, until after its World Series coverage since the games are so disruptive its schedule that it makes it tough to launch something new in the middle of it.
Some of the bombing comedies are tanking in hour-long blocks, which makes it tougher to cancel one without axing both.
But another significant factor, from what I’m hearing, is that there is a lack of confidence this year in the midseason replacement shows. In other words, networks fear that a time period might only get worse if they switch to the next show in the dugout, so they’re holding off for now.
So let’s re-ask the question we asked a few weeks ago: Which new show will be canceled first? Selfie, Utopia, and NBC’s Mysteries of Laura “won” that poll. Fox’s Gracepoint is begging to get chopped from Thursday night, and almost certainly would be if not for the upcoming baseball coverage (and the fact it’s a limited series adds some incentive to let it play out). Same goes for Utopia. Comedies Selfie, Manhattan, Bad Judge and A to Z are all looking super weak (with my pick Manhattan the softest last week).
Here’s the just-released ranking of all the broadcast shows among adults 18-49 through the first four weeks of the season (including full DVR playback for the first two weeks):
|NBC NFL SUNDAY FOOTBALL||NBC||8.1|
|BIG BANG THEORY||CBS||6.0|
|NBC NFL SUNDAY PRE-KICK||NBC||5.9|
|CBS THU FOOTBALL||CBS||5.8|
|BIG BANG THEORY-M 830P||CBS||4.4|
|HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER||ABC||4.4|
|FOOTBALL NT IN AMERICA 3||NBC||4.3|
|ONCE UPON A TIME||ABC||3.6|
|UNDER THE DOME||CBS||2.9|
|NCIS: NEW ORLEANS||CBS||2.8|
|MARVEL AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.||ABC||2.5|
|LAW & ORDER:SVU||NBC||2.4|
|CBS+NFLN THU NT KICK-2||CBS||2.4|
|PERSON OF INTEREST||CBS||2.2|
|DANCING WITH THE STARS||ABC||2.2|
|DANCING WITH THE STARS RSLTS||ABC||2.2|
|ABC SAT NIGHT COL FTBL||ABC||2.1|
|BIGGEST LOSER 16||NBC||1.8|
|FOOTBALL NT IN AMERICA 2||NBC||1.8|
|MYSTERIES OF LAURA||NBC||1.8|
|ABOUT A BOY||NBC||1.7|
|LAST MAN STANDING||ABC||1.6|
|RED BAND SOCIETY||FOX||1.5|
|AMER FUNN HOME VIDEOS||ABC||1.1|
|MANHATTAN LOVE STORY||ABC||1.1|
|ABC SAT NIGHT COL FTBL-PREGM||ABC||0.9|
|JANE THE VIRGIN||CW||0.6|
|WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY||CW||0.6|
|LAW & ORDER:SVU-SAT||NBC||0.5|
|MYSTERIES OF LAURA-SAT||NBC||0.5|