ABC probably would have been justified in cancelling “Designated Survivor” for ratings-based reasons alone. The show suffered pretty large declines in its second season.
But it also had similar numbers to at least one other show (“For the People”) that ABC is bringing back next season. Ratings weren’t the only factor, though: ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey says the network wasn’t sold on the creative direction of “Designated Survivor” either.
“That was a hard one for us,” Dungey told reporters Tuesday in a press conference laying out ABC’s 2018-19 plans. “It did do well in delayed viewing. It was becoming a bit of a challenge for us in the 10 o’clock hour in terms of its same-day performance.”
In live + same-day ratings, this season, “Designated Survivor” is averaging a 0.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.95 million viewers. It fell 42 percent from its Season 1 average in adults 18-49 (1.25) and 32 percent in viewers (vs. 5.84 million).
That’s among the weaker performances for ABC at 10 o’clock this season (along with Tuesday and Sunday nights). It’s bad for affiliates hoping to drive viewers to local newscasts and for the network, which wants people to stick around for “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“Designated Survivor” did, as Dungey notes, overperform in delayed viewing, but even though it doubled its audience, its Live +7 ratings fell at a similar rate (41 percent in adults 18-49, 29 percent in viewers) to its same-day declines.
The show has also been through what Dungey calls “a lot of behind-the-scenes churn on that show in terms of the numbers of showrunners that were involved.” “Designated Survivor” had four different showrunners over its two seasons.
“Ultimately we were less confident about the creative path forward than with some of the other shows we brought back,” she says.