Cancellation Watch: The Good Debut for The Whispers Gives it More than a Whisper’s Chance for Survival

By | June 3, 2015

The_Whispers_ABC_CancelledI had mentioned previously that I was worried that ABC’s Summer entry The Whispers might be arriving on the schedule DOA, much like The CW’s The Messengers (more on that at this link), because it was originally planned to bow at mid-season but was pushed instead to a June start.  And that may very well have been the way its network was looking at it, but its debut numbers have given it some hope.  The show bowed on Monday night with a 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights and 5.7 million total viewers.  And while that is well below the strong debut that CBS’ Under the Dome had in Summer two years ago, it’s still a pretty good score for a show airing during the hot months.  In fact, with the ratings slump that hit the broadcast networks this past Spring, an average around that level might have been enough to keep the show alive during the regular season.  Considering that renewed Agents of SHIELD averaged that same level during the Spring and renewed Agent Carter was below that (though both did have Disney on their side), ABC has to be happy seeing those numbers for a Summer series.  Based on that 1.5 score, The Whispers will likely make it into the Top 10 broadcast network shows for the week based on ratings (or at least the Top 15), and it is currently ahead of FOX’s Wayward Pines as far as Spring/Summer genre entries on the broadcast nets.  Plus it beat out the competition in its timeslot (the difficult Monday 10 PM EST hour) and sufficiently plugs up part of the Summer schedule with non-repeat programming. The concern, though, will be how much it will drop in the coming weeks.  Almost all shows trend down after their premieres, some significantly.  But if The Whispers can maintain about a 1.2 rating average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo, I believe its chances look good (and for those touting the delayed viewing numbers, please see this).  Of course, if my theory that ABC had given up on the show before it aired is true, they may be less inclined to bring it back for a second season because the attention-span-challenged entertainment industry often moves quickly along to the next thing if they don’t have an immediate hit on their hands.  Of course there is also the chance that The Whispers has international financing and/or a streaming deal backing it similar to the CBS Summer entries Under the Dome and Extant.  If that’s the case, then the numbers I mention above should be sufficient to keep the show alive.  The trend over the next few weeks will be crucial, but I believe that if it sinks no further than a 1.2 rating that its chances are good.  And I haven’t heard any claims that this is a limited-run series, but if anybody else has just ignore them.  We all know that they build a continuation plan into these “limited run” entries or use that label as a means of cancelling the show without really cancelling it if the numbers aren’t good.  Currently, though, it appears that The Whispers does not have to worry about that.

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