One of the fun things about TV as a business, a thing that probably isn’t fun if your livelihood happens to depend on the shows in question, is looking at unsuccessful shows and trying to figure out the threshold for failure.
It turns out that even as midseason filler intended only as a stopgap between two halves of a season of a hit drama, there are limits and on Friday, we learned that limit:
It’s probably not that 2.92 million viewers is the threshold, because NBC has comedies that do that regularly, as does FOX. However, it’s hard to remain on the air when you do a 0.6 rating among adults 18-49.
On Friday (January 10) afternoon after West Coast closing time, ABC announced that it was pulling all future scheduled episode of the limited series “The Assets,” which did those anemic numbers in its second airing. For the next three weeks, “Shark Tank” repeats will air in the Thursday 10 p.m. slot, which will still leave at least three more unscheduled Thursdays before ABC can breath a sigh of relief and welcome “Scandal” back to the fold.
[And yes, “Shark Tank” repeats are ABC’s solution to many problems, filling the gap after “Lucky 7” was pulled after two episodes as well.]
The British-produced take on the CIA investigation that led to the discovery of mole Aldrich Ames was always intended as an eight-episode limited series, so it doesn’t get to be in the discussion for lowest-rated in-season dramas in network history, but its two airings certainly lowered some bar.
The “limited series” tag cannot, however, be stuck on the ABC Tuesday drama “Killer Women,” which premiered on January 8 to 3.96 million viewers, but only a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49. As of this second, ABC still has “Killer Women” scheduled to air next Tuesday and then ABC still has a TV Critics Association press tour panel for the show scheduled for two days after the episode airs, a panel in which ratings-based-concern could hardly not be expressed. Unlike “The Assets,” “Killer Women” was picked up as a series, even if it’s only schedule to run until the premiere of “Mind Games” on March 11. “Mind Games,” of course, comes from Kyle Killen, whose “Lone Star” and “Awake” tested the low-rated thresholds for FOX and NBC respectively.
I reached out to ABC to find out if there are any plans to make the remaining six “Assets” episodes available in any form. ABC says that their fate has yet to be determined, but they’ll let me know.
If not: They caught him.