Something happened during the fall broadcast season that industry experts say hasn’t happened since the early 1950s. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Scott Collins reports that’s how long it has been since the season stretched into November without a single cancellation of a freshman show.
Collins notes that four new shows in particular — Fox’s “Minority Report,” ABC’s “Blood & Oil” and NBC’s “The Player” and “Truth Be Told” — have been considered candidates for cancellation for some time now, and yet all four remain on the air.
“The absence of cancellations is another sign of the tectonic shifts under way in the television industry,” Collins writes. “Thanks to digital recording and streaming, millions of viewers no longer watch shows when they are first telecast — making network executives reluctant to kill a program that may be quietly building an audience that’s not being counted by traditional ratings.”
Networks have embraced a new strategy that may help marginal shows gain a foothold, Collins notes. Rather than hand out cancellation notices, they’ve been reducing the number of episodes ordered — as they’ve done with “Minority Report,” “The Player,” “Blood & Oil” and “Truth Be Told.”
One concern has been the eagerness of rivals — including cable channels and streaming services such as Netflix and Yahoo — to pick up a network castoff, which might then become a hit for someone else. When that happens, the network eats the costs of developing the series in the first place.
“By cutting the number of episodes produced instead of simply hitting the cancel button, network bosses can hedge their risk on a series that looks dicey, while keeping it out of the hands of competitors for as long as possible,” Collins writes.
We encourage readers to click on the link near to top of this story to read Collins’ full analysis.