More than any year in recent memory, the survival of shows this season did not hinge on ratings.
You had Fox’s Fringe getting renewed for a final GTFO season with only 4.2 million viewers and slight 1.6 average rating. Then you had Terra Nova getting axed with 10.8 million viewers and a 3.6 rating. The biggest mitigating factor was a show’s cost — which usually rises along with its age — along with the difficulty of a time period, who owns the program, how intensely critics and fans feel about the series and, believe it or not, whether a network’s executives like the show. Here are the top nine highest-rated canceled shows this season:
1. Rob (CBS: 12 million viewers, 3.7 adults 18-49 rating): A 3.7? If NBC had a freshman comedy with a 3.7 average, it would run the show five nights a week this fall (Community was renewed with almost half this rating). Bully for CBS that their table scraps have these kind of numbers. The issue here was Rob Schneider’s comedy was shedding too much of its massive Big Bang Theory lead-in, and was trending the wrong direction. CBS suspects the time slot can do better.
2. Terra Nova (Fox: 10.1 million, 3.6): Some in the industry feel Fox made a mistake not picking up this ambitious drama for a second season. I agree. Terra Nova managed the rare feat of delivering a sizable family audience to a broadcast drama, found its legs creatively in its final hours and there was nothing else like it on TV. Cost was a factor, but so was the network’s belief that midseason addition Touch would be the network’s next big hit (it wasn’t).
3. Alcatraz (Fox: 9.6 million, 3.4): The ratings on Alcatraz keep sinking while the show, unlike other J.J. Abrams-produced dramas, wasn’t hugely engaging for viewers. A second season would have likely seen a ratings drop into serious red-line territory.