May 19 2013

2013 TV Series Cancellations by the Numbers

Blood Bath

This year was one of the heaviest cancellation cycle viewers have ever seen, it definitely could be qualified as a blood bath at the networks.

With the cancellations over, and the upfronts completed showing off the new series, it’s time to look over what happened at the networks this season.


Considering that NBC came in behind Univision in the ratings, it desperately needed to swing the axe hard this year, and so it did. A total of 12 shows met their end, but ABC, which isn’t doing so hot in the ratings either, also went heavy with 10 cancellations. With that said, however, lets take a look at how these cancellations broke down.

Cancellation Breakdowns

First Season Shows

What can we learn from this? New shows really did not speak to viewers this year. Of course, NBC was canceling shows left and right,  but even CBS, which is in first place, wasn’t that happy with the way some shows launched. But out of the 33 shows canceled this year, 23 of them were newly added shows. That does not speak well for the future and the shows replacing them this fall. The public is becoming more discerning about what it sets aside time for.


For clarification, these are shows of all ages, and not just first seasons, This also goes for the dramas and reality shows. Lets face it, comedies were a mess this year. NBC canceled all but two of them – 30 Rock and The Office do not factor here as they came to agreeable ends – and the Peacock network is ready to try some new things. At this point things can’t get worse for them, so why not? ABC also killed off several, but yet some Last Man Standing lives on… not sure why. And over at CBS, Chuck Lorre – the man behind The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly and Two and a Half Men – is adding a fourth show to his roster. This is not a good idea on CBS’ part just from the perspective it is putting far too many eggs in one basket.


Drama is where ABC fell flat on its face. It had a lot of failures right out of the gate with shows such as 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort. CBS also learned that not everything it touches turns to gold, as evidenced by Vegas.


And this is the pay off: Reality shows are cheap to make. Don’t get fooled by million dollar prizes, they’re still insanely cheap to make when compared to a comedy, and even more so when compared to a drama. Despite declining ratings on series such as Dancing With the Stars, it is still makes more economic sense to cut it down to one night and keep it around as opposing to canceling it all together and then having to fill two time slots.

The Outlook for the 2013/2014 Season

Things are not going to be any easier this season. The crops of shows that are upcoming is a whole new slew of shows that just left me cold. With the exception of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., nothing really excited me. And even that show I’m not 100 percent sold on it working on a network channel. There will be a lot more cancellations next year at this time, and some of them will not be first season series. Some shows held on by their fingernails this year, and it’s doubtful things will improve this year.

The networks have got to look a bit deeper at how things are going and begin to realize it’s time for things to change.

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