Anyone with social media knows how often we see TV shows being cancelled. It’s almost one per week at this point, with an average of a 2 season life. Fans often speculate as to why it keeps happening and tend to come to the wrong conclusions each time. No matter how much petitioning you do for the shows you love, sadly, it won’t come back unless you pay for another season yourself.
If you’re aware of the TV world, you’ll have noticed that seasons are much shorter than they used to be. It’s now normal to have a 8-10 episode season, sometimes of 30 minutes per episode. This isn’t just down to the audience habits, it’s down to the rising costs and demand for releases. As soon as a show is finished, the audience demands more but often it doesn’t actually matter what they want. Hence why some of our favourite shows get cancelled without an ending or real explanation. Some were inevitable.
Budgets are a lot bigger than they used to be years ago to keep up with the newest quality equipment to give the audience the best viewing experience possible. After all, TV is meant to be the at home cinema experience. For the average pilot season, you’re looking at least 100 million, it’s a lot more than people think. Imagine investing loads of your money into that product and you haven’t even made that budget back or even profited from it? You wouldn’t be happy as it’s a big investment to lose out on, especially when profits would most likely be used to re-invest into the product itself. You’d be on a loss and if you were to think about another season, it would most likely be a bigger loss. Hence why cancellations happen. If it doesn’t reach the expectations in the first month of release, it probably won’t at all, no matter how much promotion is put in.
The easiest targets for cancellations are those that have CGI, SFX and stunts, they are unsurprisingly the most costly to make.
Why aren’t shows hitting the expectations?
With the demand being so high for new content, corners tend to get cut so the process is faster. Writing quality isn’t there. They choose quantity over quality. On average, if you don’t have the audiences attention gripped in the first 10 minutes, they will turn the show off, meaning viewers are gone before the story has essentially started. Also, there’s never enough character development. Lots of it is just too story driven and it doesn’t work. If you look at the most successful shows in history, they manage to grab your attention straight away with drama and relatable characters.
What needs to happen for them to succeed?
Within the first 10 minutes, you need to have a clearly defined and relatable protagonist with the start of an interesting back story, plus, the start of their journey. This can be done in many varieties but it is best to start with that character involved in some form of drama. Making it memorable gives it a higher chance of success and makes it stand out from the rest.