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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles won't be back next fall

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February 22nd, 2009

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For many of our readers this was already a foregone conclusion, but this post is for everyone else. Though two data points on a Friday don't necessarily make for a trend, we have more data points than that for Sarah Connor, and whenever it finishes its run, it's done.   Yes, I know Bill will write about this in the next Renew or Cancel update but I'm guessing Bill will boil it down to its essence, which is, whenever it finishes its run, it's done.  Enjoy it while it lasts!   If you're already in that space yourself, there's no reason to read the rest of this.

But, if you're one of those people who just won't let go that easily, read on.   The numbers are, as Bill would say, look away bad. I know some will hold on to hope until it's just not on anywhere anymore.   But I don't believe in holding on like that, at least when it comes to TV shows with the kind of low Nielsen ratings we're talking about for a scripted show on broadcast television.    So, I plan to actually take my own advice and simply enjoy the show while it lasts.

We've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. The remaining episodes will (hopefully) air, Fox will announce its fall schedule and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles won't be on it, and between now and then, and even after there will be a lot of noise on the Internet.

1.       Maybe The CW will pick the show up for a third season since its produced by Warner Bros, or maybe SciFi will pick it up since it's a SciFi show, or maybe DirecTV will write a big check to bail the show out!

None of those things is very likely to happen.  Not impossible, but not likely either.  Ultimately it will come down to how much Warner Bros is willing to discount it, or said another way, how little it is willing to charge.   Typically, other networks don't want to pick up a show that had really, really bad ratings.   If TSCC had 8 million viewers and a 2.0 in the demo, things would be different.   It doesn't (if it had those numbers on Friday, FOX would likely stick with it), but if it had those kind of numbers and was being cancelled, it might be more attractive to the likes of the CW.  The CW might be reasonable to think in that case that it could perhaps do in the neighborhood of what it does with Supernatural.  The problem is, the show is already doing in the neighborhood of Supernatural, and it's not on the CW.  So it would do worse on the CW.  And even worse than that on SciFi.

Some have suggested that the show is very inexpensive to produce and so therefore someone else would give this a try.  I'm not so sure.  I'm not sure that the show is hugely expensive, but it's more expensive to produce than a show like Supernatural on The CW or a show like Eureka on SciFi.  One of the reasons it seems like the broadcast shows never wind up being saved by cable networks is cost.    I can definitely believe the show was offered very inexpensively to FOX this year, and that  was one of the reasons it was even on the air for a second season to begin with.  But I do not believe the studio can afford to discount the show heavily enough for cable or the CW without everyone involved with the show taking big pay cuts.

Sometimes shows move from one broadcast network to the other for a variety of reasons (think Scrubs moving from NBC to ABC), but we've seen a lot of shows get cancelled from broadcast networks in the last 18 months and never have seen one of them wind up on cable or The CW.

So what about a DirecTV deal like it did with Friday Night Lights?  In that particular case the studio and the network were all under the same umbrella (NBC Universal), and we don't know yet if that deal really worked out.   We won't know for sure until we hear NBC's plans for the show next season.   Because TSCC isn't produced by a FOX owned studio, it seems less likely that FOX would be interested in brokering that sort of deal.  Of course, if DirecTV could write a big enough check so that Warner Bros was willing to give it to  FOX for free, that's a different story.  I wouldn't bet on that happening.

Judging from how many people watched Friday Night Lights on DirecTV, and how many people are watching it on NBC, I'll be very surprised if that experiment continues.  And if it doesn't, that will likely mostly put the kibosh on such deals in the future.  But even if NBC/DirecTV do go another year, because of the ratings for TSCC, such a deal for it seems very unlikely.

Also there's this: TSCC  doesn't get the sort of critical acclaim Friday Night Lights gets.

2.       It's a big hit on the Internet!

Not big enough, and that won't be a factor.

3.       The movie Terminator: Salvation is coming out and Terminator sensation will sweep the nation creating a Terminator style frenzy and there will be HUGE INTEREST IN ALL THINGS TERMINATOR!

Sorry, but I always sort of thought it was the other way around.  That the only reason Terminator: TSCC was back on the air this year was because Warner Bros discounted the show very heavily to FOX and committed to buying lots of commercial time for Terminator: Salvation on FOX.  There is absolutely no data to suggest that how people feel about a two hour film correlates in any way to watching a television series that is only loosely based on the films.  Dark Night: The Series and  Wall-E: The Series would already be on the air if that was true.

4.       Variations of: Nielsen is an antiquated system! FOX didn't promote the show enough! FOX screwed the show over by scheduling it on Mondays!  FOX screwed the show over by scheduling it on Fridays! Pleeeeeeaaaaaaassssssse FOX, don't cancel Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it's the only show I watch on FOX! If FOX cancels the show I'll never watch FOX again!

All of that is just blah, blah, blah freaking blah.  Seriously.  Saying those things might make some people feel better, but none of those things will actually do anything to save the show.   The most likely thing to save the show somehow so that it at least winds up on the air somewhere is if you and a few million of your friends go out and buy the DVDs.   But sadly, that's not going to happen either.   Please note that both Jericho and Moonlight before it,  shows that actually had a lot more viewers than TSCC (TSCC now has numbers lower than Swingtown, also cancelled) a.) did not sell a ton of DVDs and b.) more people are watching the shows that CBS is airing now than watched those shows.

Does all of this suck for fans of the show?  Absolutely.  But  TV is a business, and shows that pull numbers like TSCC has pulled (even when it was on Mondays) aren't good business.  Is it possible Warner Bros will discount the show so steeply for a third season the likes of SciFi or the CW would be interested?  It is possible, but that doesn't seem like good business for Warner Brothers, so it too seems unlikely.

I know that it sucks for the fans of the show, and I'm not trying to tweak anyone, but sadly, the numbers for the show are really bad.  So long, see you, bye, style bad.  Smaller networks like The CW and SciFi just don't pick up shows that have abysmal Nielsen ratings on broadcast television.  But that won't stop all the speculation.

 
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