Here’s Why Networks Are Cutting Back on Canceling Shows (No, Really) – The Hollywood Reporter

The biggest surprise among last week’s network cancellations was Magnum PIwhich CBS cut after four seasons despite the show ranking in the top 25 entertainment shows in terms of total viewers.

One more reason why it’s stuck? Broadcasters have dramatically reduced the number of series cancellations and endings over the past two years. This past week’s march of cancellation announcements may not have made everyone feel the same way, but the data shows that as a group, networks are more likely to stay with shows than they are. with the previous decades.

While fewer scripted series have also aired on broadcast networks, both the number and cancellation rates have dropped. As scripted show audiences become increasingly dispersed, networks are betting that familiar titles – NCISes and Law & Orders – will be what keeps viewers coming back, whether it’s during a particular prime time slot or to the streaming platforms that carry network shows the day after they air.

Over the nine seasons from 2011-12 to 2019-20, the five English-language broadcast networks were fairly consistent in their cancellation figures: During those years, they ended up averaging about 40.6 scripted shows (via through complete cancellation or final season prior notice) each season. The number fluctuates every year but is never below 35 (2011-12) or above 45 (2013-14).

Over the past two seasons, however, that average has dropped to just 24.5 cancellations – 22 a year ago and 27 this season. Even when The CW removed half of its scripted lineup, the number of cancellations and endings only increased to five series.

2022 Year 2021 Year 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 two thousand and thirteen 2012
ABC 3 5 11 8 14 twelfth 13 8 twelfth 11 9
CBS 6 6 9 ten 8 7 9 9 9 6 5
fox 3 4 7 8 ten 9 7 ten 8 5 8
NBC 5 5 9 8 9 6 11 14 twelfth 13 ten
CW ten 2 4 3 3 4 3 2 4 5 3
TOTAL 27 22 40 37 44 38 43 43 45 40 35

Source: THR study. The figures do not include acquisitions.

Broadcasters have also aired fewer scripted shows since the outbreak of the pandemic: 87 shows this season and 86 shows in 2021-22, compared with an average of about 105 in the previous nine seasons. . Just four years ago, for example, ABC canceled 14 shows; this season, it’s just aired 14 scripted shows (plus one skit in Women of the Movement).

The drop in overall volume was in part due to spending shifting to streaming projects, and production costs – regardless of output – increased due to factors ranging from increased fees for presenters and sponsors. leading capabilities to additional COVID precautions on set.

However, the lower cancellation figures are not just a function of having fewer programs to cancel. The past two seasons have also seen a drop in the rate of canceled shows. From 2012-20, the five networks adjusted an average of 38.7% of their scripted listings each year, and the percentage has never dropped below 33.3%.

The past two seasons have been about 10 points below average. In the years 2020-21 and 2021-22, the cancellation rate was only 28.3%. This season accounted for 31% (27 of 87 shows), with 10 of those – just over a third – coming from The CW as the network curated its listings ahead of a potential sale.

While all four major networks have reduced cancellation rates, ABC has braked the hardest. From 2012-20, the carrier canceled or ended an average of nearly 11 shows per season. However, as its overall volume has dwindled recently, that number has become unsustainable. It’s only dropped eight series in total in 2021 and 2022, with just three of those coming this season.

NBC has cut five series in each of the past two seasons, after averaging about 10 a year for the previous nine seasons. Fox averaged eight scripted cancellations or endings from 2012-20, but only dropped four shows last year and three this year (assuming the studio can make deals to bring in 911 and Resident backside). CBS saw the smallest drop, from eight adjusted series per year from 2012-20 to six per year in 2021 and 2022.

The CW has followed this pattern for years, never canceling more than a handful of shows in a given season. Just this season, with the future of the network in limbo as parent company Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global explore a purchase, The CW reversed the process of gradually building up scripted shows for year-round programming.

First-year breakout hits like CBS’ Ghost and ABC’s Abbott Elementary School is an increasingly rare commodity for broadcasters. Titles and franchises as old as CBS’ NCIS stable, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 and NBC’s Law & Order and Chicago– on the contrary, meanwhile, continues to attract audiences that are reliable – and distinct – on both linear and streaming platforms: NBC has said that Laws & Orders: SVU’for example, the streaming audience is a full generation younger than the generation that watches online dramas.

As broadcast networks become the starting point in cross-platform ecosystems, rather than as independent entities as they have always been, maintaining a proven (or at least familiar) program makes sense. Meaning: The networks can still attract the attention of online shows that people know very well, and recognizable library titles help support the associated streaming services. Outside of NFL licensing, that’s the win-win that the shrinking world of linear television can offer.

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