Alphabet cancels competish

“The One” is done.

ABC has pulled the plug on the singing competish, barely one week after it bowed to disastrous Nielsen numbers. Skein’s July 18 premiere goes down as the lowest-rated adults 18-49 debut for a reality show (a 1.1 demo rating/3 share) in modern TV history.

The Alphabet nonetheless aired three more episodes of “The One: Making a Superstar” (plus a repeat of the two-hour premiere) in the hope that ratings might improve. Instead, they declined even further — and Thursday morning, ABC execs decided they’d had enough.

Cancellation, while expected after last week’s numbers, leaves ABC with a big scheduling hole to fill between now and mid-September, when “The One” was slated to wrap. There’s no word yet on what ABC will air in its place.

Net will have to settle up with producer Endemol USA, which was contracted to produce more than a dozen additional episodes of the show at a pricetag likely in excess of $1 million per seg.

Negotiations shouldn’t be bitter, however, since ABC and Endemol are already in business on another project, quizzer “For the Rest of Your Life.” Studio also produces the Alphabet hit “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

In theory, Endemol could also allow ABC to roll over some of its commitment to “The One” to future Endemol projects. Execs from ABC and Endemol declined interview requests.

“The One,” a sort of “American Idol” meets “Big Brother” mashup based on the Spanish format “Operacion Triunfo,” was designed to crown a pop singing star. Nine contestants remained when ABC canceled the show, and a rep for the net said there are no current plans for the competish to continue on ABC Family or ABC.com.

That said, because ABC and Endemol were running a contest –with a prize of a recording contract — it seems likely that someone will evenutally be declared “the One.” Just how a winner will be declared is still being discussed.

Other reality shows have been pulled before a winner could be announced. Fox killed Endemol’s “The Next Great Champ” prematurely — but allowed the competition to finish out on Fox Sports Net.

And last summer, ABC canceled “Welcome to the Neighborhood” before it even premiered. Winner of that competish got to keep the prize, a new house.

So why didn’t “The One” work?

Bad timing is one prevalent theory. Because the show wasn’t greenlit until last winter, ABC wasn’t able to get the show on the air before its mid-July premiere date. By that time, a slew of talent competitions had already premiered, perhaps testing viewers’ interest in the genre.

There’s also a theory that viewers felt the show seemed too similar to “American Idol,” though the show skipped what’s long been considered one of the key ingredients in the latter skein’s success: the monthlong audition process.

Indeed, while their were auditions held for “The One,” they weren’t the sort of cattle calls that “Idol” revels in. Instead, producers tried to seek out the best talent possible by looking for singers who already had some experience.

One network insider believes shows such as “The One” can’t work because viewers simply love “Idol” too much.

“All these shows are copies of what people think of as their favorite show in the world,” he said. “And when you copy that, you just get anger.”

While “The One” was a dud, it’s been a bad summer for new reality skeins overall.

CBS killed “Tuesday Night Book Club” after just two weeks, and while “Gameshow Marathon” did OK numbers relative to its competish, it was hardly a breakout hit.

NBC’s “Treasure Hunters” has also failed to click with auds, while — hype to the contrary — “America’s Got Talent” is anything but a smash. Skein has seen its ratings decline in each of its last four performance telecasts.

ABC’s other summer reality skeins, “Master of Champions” and “How to Get the Guy,” have also struck out with auds. Add in the failure of “The One,” and Alphabet execs will have to deal with the problem of low viewer circulation in the weeks leading up to the September launch.

With fewer people watching ABC right now, net may have to increase its off-net ad budget. ABC already seems to be airing unusually long promos (i.e., two minutes) for some of its higher-profile newcomers.

Next week, the Alphabet bows its final new reality show of the summer, “One Ocean View.”

One bit of good news for the net: Existing reality hits “Dancing With the Stars,” “EM: Home Edition,” “Wife Swap” and ” The Bachelor” will all be back in a few weeks.

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