Low Ratings Not Enough to Kill a Show

May 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

If networks seemed more forgiving about renewing struggling series this season, that’s probably because they were.
The 10 lowest-rated scripted series renewed for next season collectively averaged a 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic for the 2006-07 season, down slightly from the 2.8 average of the 10 lowest-rated returning shows from the 2005-06 season.
But in a season hit by a springtime broadcast ratings slump, it’s not surprising that networks decided to show a little extra faith.
“On any of the networks on any given night, you have programs barely achieving a 3.0,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming at Katz Television Group. “But development is so difficult, and establishing a program is so tough, and the potential back end [of a show reaching syndication] is so valuable, it all plays into the renewal process.”
Other significant factors include a show’s time period, cost, demographics and growth potential.
Although NBC received the most press attention with its renewals of the low-rated drama “Friday Night Lights” (which had a 2.3 average for the season in its regular slot) and “30 Rock” (2.7), they were not the lowest-rated pickups this season.
Fox’s “The War at Home” and ABC’s freshman sitcom “Notes From the Underbelly” tied for the bottom-dwelling position with a 2.2 each.
Only five episodes of “Underbelly” aired in its regular slot this season. “Home” not only scored low in viewers, but routinely makes the “Worst Shows” list in TelevisionWeek’s semi-annual Critics Poll. “Home” lacked a regular time slot, however, and Fox used the show as a multipurpose filler.
The highest-rated non-renewed show? Aside from CBS’s expensive “The King of Queens,” which ended its nine-year run this month, that’s NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” which pulled a 3.6 for the season but steadily declined during its run.

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