Is The Peak TV Bubble Reaching Its Limit?
A Hollywood Reporter article indicates that the Viacom network of cable channels–which includes MTV, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, the soon to launch Paramount Network, and more–is scaling back on its scripted television output. This primarily impacts what the article refers to as Viacom’s “niche” stations like CMT, VH1, and TV Land and will result in shows like Nashville and Lopez ending or getting cancelled. The plan at this point is to focus on the Paramount Network (currently Spike) as the main outlet for “premium dramas”. Whether The Shannara Chronicles, which currently airs on Spike, will count in that category remains to be seen. That show’s ratings definitely do not put it in the class of a premium drama, though its production costs probably do. Its fate is in doubt at this point, but the article makes no mention of the show.
Viacom’s shift in strategy makes sense and I expect to start seeing more consolidation of this nature among the cable channels and possibly even the broadcast networks. The fact is that the number of television shows can’t keep going up and the many shows out there just can’t make enough money when they are pulling only fractions of a ratings point like The Shannara Chronicles has been doing in its second season. To me, this is yet another sign that Peak TV could be reaching its limit, and at some point the bubble is going to start to shrink if not outright burst. Expect to see more of these sort of strategy shifts in the coming year of so as the many, many outlets for television try to remain viable in this increasingly competitive, and potentially volatile, environment.
Ratings Results of Interest: ABC’s Ratings Go Up Without The Inhumans
ABC’s Once Upon A Time aired its two-hour Fall finale on Friday and pulled a 0.5 rating based on same day viewing for the 18-49 demographic with 2.3 million total viewers. That’s even with where it has been the last few weeks, but interestingly that network’s news show 20/20 improved in the ratings at the 10 PM EST hour. That show has been down this season with a poor lead-in from The Inhumans, and that may be another factor that ABC will use to justify not bringing the superhero series back (I currently have it at Cancellation Likely status). If Agents of SHIELD drags down 20/20 when it returns next month, that might work against that show as well.
Syfy’s Ghost Wars and Superstition both remained low in the ratings last week (despite a slightly improvement for the former) and both appear to be headed toward cancellation unless international partnerships and/or financing can help them. On Sunday, all of the genre shows dropped, mostly notably FOX’s Ghosted which slipped to a series low 0.8 rating. But I’m guessing they took a hit from the beginning of the holiday week and expect them to rebound next Sunday. You can see the full ratings results for the week at this link.