Is Fox Playing an Expensive Game of "Chicken" To Avoid Being First to Cancel a New Show?

Categories: Broadcast TV

Written By

October 9th, 2012

Update October 10: CBS has pulled Made in Jersey off the Friday schedule effectively cancelling the show.

Normally this time of year I'd be checking my e-mail and Twitter religiously until at least 9pm PT just to make sure Fox didn't wait for New York to fall asleep before announcing they'd canceled Mob Doctor. I'm not so sure this year. With Mob Doctor on break for the next few weeks while the MLB playoffs and World Series take place, it looks to me like Fox is trying to buy some time  to dodge the bad PR of being the first network to cancel one of its new shows. That's the only reason I can think of the cancellation hasn't already been announced, and I can't help but wonder if that's a good reason.

Perhaps there are other reasons, but... The show obviously debuted badly (a 1.5 live+SD adults 18-49 rating) only to slip another 40% to a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating in its third episode. It will definitely be canceled, and it's hard to imagine repeats performing much worse.

We frequently poo poo network PR, but if Fox is just waiting to not have the first cancellation, they're putting a price tag on avoiding that negative PR that is at least in the 7 figure range.  Just how expensive it winds up is a function of whether/when one of the other networks blinks first and cancels one of its shows.

  • S.

    That or the lead is also Murdoch’s niece.

  • Lucas

    I’m pretty sure this post’s title is a wrong double negative.

  • Petar Ivanov

    What you mean with bad and negative PR? Ultimately who cares for that?
    Same with CBS and Partners who cares its much more important to help 2BG their new fresh hit stop bleeding instead stupid PR or whatever.(Bill have same thesis for Partners in CBS page) I really can’t believe network will lose money and hurt its shows for something so dump like image, PR, etc.

  • TerryJacksonNYC

    New York doesn’t fall asleep. Just sayin’.

  • Jon23812

    Maybe FOX will pull a Terra Nova. Air all 13 episodes, then later announce it’s been cancelled.

  • Heradite

    @Peter: Investors do. They want to know that FOX is still strong and this supposedly gives them the image that FOX isn’t failing this season. FOX doesn’t care what the public thinks, but they sure as hell care what the shareholders think. If they think that FOX is going downhill, the stock of News Corp. goes down. So to try and keep some stability, FOX is trying it’s best to not cancel a show first this season.

  • DryedMangoez

    They had no problem pulling the plug on Lone Star first?

  • Robert Seidman

    @Lucas: there was only a single negative, but I have to agree it was awkward…so i got rid of it.

  • TerryJacksonNYC


    Terra Nova was mostly “in the can” before it aired, so there was no reason to cancel it when it had decent ratings. The ratings would have warranted a renewal if its per-episode production hadn’t been so costly and lengthy.

  • Robert Seidman

    @DryedMangoez: I did think about adding in a “I wonder how Kyle Killen feels?” reference.

  • Lucas

    @Robert Sorry, I counted “avoid” as a negative, for some reason.

  • forg

    Yeah Lone Star was given the axe quickly despite glowing reviews so this case is really strange. 0.9 for FOX?

  • Petar Ivanov

    Thanks. Now i get it. Is that rule for all networks or just fox wich was and still is number 1?

  • Jon23812

    @Terry, I know, but I think FOX doesn’t like to announce they cancelled a show, while there are still episodes left. They also did that with Allen Gregory.

  • Dan

    Lone Star was more expensive though, and FOX needed to ax it to make room because they had Lie to Me, Human Target and a lot of shows crowding midseason. This year they only have The Following.

    Terra Nova was always planned for 13 episodes in its first season and I;m not surprised it was cancelled given that it was very expensive.

    I believe Fox is playing chicken with this one. I’m very surprised because normally TMD would have been cancelled and Touch would premiere in November but looks like Fox doesnt want the first cancellation. CBS doesn’t want it either with Made in Jersey even though .8 is terrible.

    Maybe NBC will end the madness and cancel Animal Practice or ABC will pull Last Resort. Who knows but numbers for these shows are horrible.

  • Survivor Fan

    I am starting to wonder if we will not see our first cancellation until the schedules for November sweeps come.

  • Robert Seidman

    My guess is they’re more concerned with PR in the advertising community and not the NewsCorp shareholders (if I was one of those I’d be mad they hadn’t canceled Mob Doctor yet). As far as a quicker trigger finger with Lone Star, it premiered worse RELATIVELY than Mob Doctor and Fox was in a much better position of strength then “sure, we canceled Lone Star but we still have the Death Star in Idol and will beat all of our competitors.” Things have changed a bit on that front.

  • Dan

    @Jon23812 – FOX cancels plenty of shows with episodes to air, they just didnt do it last season until March which Teenage Daughter and Breaking In. I could see Mob Doctor returning November 5 and being pulled, I can also see Mob Doctor actually airing through November and maybe airing its entire episode order. Even if another network makes a cancellation I don’t see Fox now cancelling Mob Doctor before it returns November.

  • Oliver

    We don’t know the terms of Fox’s deal with Sony. Additional episodes might not be costing Fox very much at all.

    It’s extremely likely Sony wants to produce at least 13 episodes for international broadcast via AXN/SET. Remember The Firm last season?

  • Dan

    @Robert – Also I believe Lone Star’s retention out of House was worse than Mob Doctor’s out of Bones but I could be wrong.

    @Survivor Fan – Depends, NBC could pull Animal Practice as early as Thursday and CBS could cancel Made in Jersey next Monday (after numbers are announced) October 17 is still the longest a network has gone without cancelling a series. CW axed Online Nation on October 17, 2007 and that was the longest into the season. If it doesnt happen until then, we could get a new record.

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