When Good Shows Get Cancelled

Mari Silbey joins ZNF…

TV technology keeps getting better, and yet so far it hasn’t solved the problem of good shows that get cancelled long before they should. Rumor has it that Studio 60 may not be getting the viewers it needs to stick around. Will shows like this – with a bad time slot and a decent chance for a cult following – eventually get made solely for a DVD or an on-demand audience?

At the Fourth Annual TV DVD Conference earlier this month, analysts touted statistics on the success of TV series on DVD. Sales are paced at 20% over last year’s numbers and the TV DVD segment is expected to reach $3 billion in sales in 2006. Of course the DVD audience is currently buying up shows that have already been tested, but how long will it be before a DVD or on-demand audience proves profitable enough for big-money original productions?

From a business perspective, there are huge ramifications for the current television business model. Dick Wolf of Law and Order fame has an interview in today’s Wall Street Journal (free content) where he points to the viability of syndicated television when digital TV downloads become more popular. I see a likely inverse correlation between the continued success of syndication and the growth of original on-demand content.

Dave and I were also talking about the television industry in general. It seems the industry complains that no one’s watching TV, and then they go right ahead and yank shows before knowing if we’ll stick around to watch them. I, for one, don’t want to start a show if it’s only been signed for half a season. There’s nothing quite like getting invested in a series and then having it disappear. (Kidnapped, Firefly, Sports Night…) Good shows need another avenue for distribution.

10 thoughts on “When Good Shows Get Cancelled”

  1. Family Guy is unique in that it was brought back. Wonder if the networks/studios might consider a move like that with Firefly which has rabid following.

  2. Family Guy isn’t unique – Futurama is also in production of new episodes due next year, after being cancelled years ago, in part due to DVD sales.

    I’d love to see more Arrested Development myself.

    I’ve had a number of shows I enjoy get cancelled – some early on, some later. Firefly got abused badly, then cancelled. Farscape was promised a 5th season, then killed without warning. (And The Peacekeeper Wars, while welcome, didn’t make up for that.) B5: Crusade and B5: The Legend of the Rangers were never really given a chance. (Hell, B5 almost didn’t get the 5th season.)

    SciFi I almost expect to kill shows I like – I’m surprised BSG and Eureka have done well, since I like those.

    I hesitate to watch any new network shows. I liked Heist on NBC – it was killed. NBC also cancelled L&O: Trial by Jury and Conviction after on season each, and I watched both of those, though I don’t mourn them too much – there are still three L&O shows to watch. I know there are other shows they cancelled on me, but I can’t even remember them now because I got so used to it.

    I’ve never watched Studio 60 – I’ve never heard anything that indicated it was something to watch. Since I use TiVo to skip ads, I rarely see any network promos, and word of mouth hasn’t had anything to say about it. There is only one new network show this year I’ve watched – Heroes. And I’m glad I did, I really enjoy it. (Uh-oh.) The only program in recent years I kind of regret not watchng is Lost, and now I’m so far behind I just don’t bother. I may grab the DVDs and catch up at some point, maybe.

  3. Family Guy should never have been cancelled. With the exception of the first few episodes after it has come back, it has been nothing special and I think that is because of the hiatus.

  4. Smith. Great show. Course the “hero” was clearly a bad guy, so it almost begged to be canceled. Probably would have done well on HBO or Showtime. I loved it though. Even watched all the remaining episodes by purchasing them from iTunes, which is something I appreciate now.

    One of my all-time favorite killed quickly shows “Profit” (with Adrian Pasdar from Heroes in his best ever role), showed up on DVD recently. And I’ve introduced it to several people that way. Boy, my wife loved it. Highly recommended if your tastes wander from the mainstream.

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