TV Ratings and Cancelled Shows And Why You Have Little Control Over The Process

by on September 15, 2012

in Entertainment

TV RatingsWhen the 2012-2013 Fall TV season was announced, TV fans discovered what new shows were on the horizon and what favorite shows found themselves cancelled. Thus, I’ve been hearing from grumpy fans about shows like CSI: Miami, Eureka and the like, that ended up getting cancelled. But why were those and other shows cancelled? Therein lies the tricky or mildly complicated answer.

The bottom line to any TV show’s survival is due to something you’ve heard of before… TV Ratings. When a show gets good TV ratings, it survives. When that show’s ratings decline to an unacceptable point, then the network will cancel the show. But why would a network cancel a TV show due to low ratings? Because their sponsors need shows that get an agreeable number of eyes on their ads.

The industry of television entertainment is a business. A business that needs to make a profit to continue to exist. If they don’t make a profit or estimated profit on a TV show, they need to cut the excess and put something else in its place to start making its money back. The money they make for a show comes from the advertisers and it’s that money that let’s the network produce the TV shows we come to enjoy.

But what is it that the sponsors like about TV ratings?

TV ratings tell the sponsors who and how many people are watching what show and that means that those shows then have more eyes watching the TV ads. And believe it or not, TV ads work. They send TV viewers to the businesses that advertise. If they didn’t, this TV Ratings system wouldn’t work like it does. But when it does work, advertisers drop money on shows (the ads you see during the show) and the shows keep on ticking. In fact they like this process so much that this year alone advertisers have dropped $9 billion on the 2012-2013 TV season!

CSI Miami - why was it cancelledAnd with that, we look back at the unpopular cancellations of shows like CSI: Miami, Finder, NYC22, Eureka and other beloved TV series.

Talking about the profits a TV show makes, one of my favorite examples is Syfy’s Eureka. The show did not have great ratings, but consistent ratings. Syfy kept it going because of its consistency. But once Comcast took over their parent company, NBC, Eureka found itself cancelled. It wasn’t profitable enough to warrant it’s continuing to be produced. Comcast had an sharp eye on balancing the books. At least they allowed for a graceful series finale.

TV is basically sold ad time peppered with your favorite TV entertainment. If there were no ads, there would be no TV shows.

The Basic Premise, in a Nutshell

In closing, great TV ratings means sponsors (advertisers) dropping more money on a show for ad space during the show. This means production monies for shows. And in the beginning of a series, bigger profits. But then things start to flatten out. Ratings eventually start to decline as people get bored with the old and chase the new. When ratings decline, advertisers start spending less on a show. But as seasons accumulate, cast and crew are always looking for pay raises. Suddenly you have production monies slowly dwindling but production costs increasing. It’s not the best combination of details, but it’s the reality of it. At some point, the threshold for how much money to spend on a show becomes unacceptable and that’s when things change for a show, or in some or most cases, get cancelled.

Case in point: When CSI: Miami was looking at the cancellation monster, the network said it could keep the show on the air if Caruso & others took a pay cut. They did not and CBS could not afford to keep producing the show. Hence, it was cut.

And that’s a real basic premise on how a TV show finds itself cancelled.

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