EW’s list of this season’s nine highest-rated canceled shows includes Terra Nova (2nd) and Alcatraz (3rd), per their 18-49 demographic rating. Ultimately, the following numbers were not enough to warrant a renewal in the eyes of FOX:
1. “Rob” (CBS: 12 million viewers, 3.7 adults 18-49 rating): A 3.7? If NBC had a freshman comedy with a 3.7 average, it would run the show five nights a week this fall (“Community” was renewed with almost half this rating). Bully for CBS that their table scraps have these kind of numbers. The issue here was Rob Schneider’s comedy was shedding too much of its massive “Big Bang Theory” lead-in, and was trending the wrong direction. CBS suspects the time slot can do better.
2. “Terra Nova” (Fox: 10.1 million, 3.6): Some in the industry feel Fox made a mistake not picking up this ambitious drama for a second season. I agree. “Terra Nova” managed the rare feat of delivering a sizable family audience to a broadcast drama, found its legs creatively in its final hours and there was nothing else like it on TV. Cost was a factor, but so was the network’s belief that midseason addition “Touch” would be the network’s next big hit (it wasn’t).
3. “Alcatraz” (Fox: 9.6 million, 3.4): The ratings on “Alcatraz” keep sinking while the show, unlike other J.J. Abrams-produced dramas, wasn’t hugely engaging for viewers. A second season would have likely seen a ratings drop into serious red-line territory.
Fans of Terra Nova and Alcatraz can feel aggrieved based on their show’s numbers versus the those of seriables that have been renewed (Fringe and Touch), though it’s worth bearing in mind that other factors came into play. For example, while Terra Nova made the network money, it didn’t pull up many trees creatively (though this may have improved in season 2), was particularly expensive to create, required a long production lead time, and the network didn’t believe in it — to name a few factors.
As for Alcatraz, once ratings failed to uptick, it was always likely to be a straight jump between it and one final season of Fringe — as we know, the latter got the high-five. A decision that has earned the network and studio (WBTV) numerous plaudits, though it’s a shame room couldn’t be made for both.
Just goes to show that along with ratings, it can also boil down to lesser spoken about variables, such as timing and whether a network fancies a show.