I was notified of a recent Hollywood Reporter article thanks to TV Squad today.  It is, to say the least, quite interesting.  The basic premise is this: the economic downturn in our economy has led to some peculiar full-season pick-ups for television shows.  The main series discussed by the Hollywood Reporter is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Though it may seem counter-intuitive that a bad economy would lead networks to renew TV shows with poor ratings, it actually makes sense in a way that I never would have thought of.  As it turns out, if a show like Terminator is canceled, then advertisers get to recoup the money that they had already pledged to that specific series.  Therefore, for the network, it can be a better decision to keep those promised advertising dollars than gamble on a show’s replacement to garner higher advertising dollars.  The economy works in mysterious ways, my friends. 

There are other factors at work too.  Last year’s writers’ strike has led to a lack of quality mid-season replacement series being ready.  Also, ratings are down across the board thanks to DVR and the explosion of cable programming.  The bar for ratings success is getting lower and lower.  But, the advertising aspect is, I think, the most notable thing to look at. 

John Rash, the VP of media negotiations at Campbell Mithun, had this to say: “Most years there would be more cancellations than there have been to date.  But the dual dynamics of schedule stability keeping ad dollars in place is combining with delayed programming development from last season’s writers strike.”

In addition to Terminator, Knight Rider and Private Practice are two other series with mediocre ratings that have been picked up for a full season.  I was thinking that there had to be a reason for this rash of renewals.  This appears to be it.  Crazy. 

In Terminator’s case, there are countless other factors.  FOX has vested interest in the Terminator franchise in general, especially with the upcoming film Terminator: Salvation, starring Christian Bale, hitting theaters next summer.  Also, once the new year hits, Terminator will likely be buffered by 24, and should benefit from promotion during American Idol.  Combine that with the series being a critical success and FOX’s continued faith in the show, and there’s a lot of reason to keep the show around.  But, this economic theory is definitely a new wrinkle, and an interesting one at that.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
Source: TV Squad, Hollywood Reporter
(Image Courtesy of FOX)

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV