Throw a couple more logs on the broadcasters blaze known as Summer Burnoff Theater.
ABC’s “Traveler” and CW’s “Hidden Palms” are this year’s victims, continuing a run of futility in what has become their fire-sale season. While summer remains a fertile time for cable nets to plant new seeds, the warm-weather months are also where scripted broadcast series go to die.
Perhaps auds could smell the embers from their living rooms, because they barely gave “Traveler” or “Hidden Palms” a chance — even though they both generated good enough reviews.
“Traveler” was one of last fall’s best-looking pilots, but ABC always intended it for midseason. However, once the net saw the carnage that begat most of the season’s other serialized skeins, — and didn’t have a logical place on the sked for it — it shunted it off to summer.
Show has pulled in 5 and 6 shares in adults 18-49 in the 10 o’clock hour Wednesdays, finishing behind repeats of CBS drama “CSI: NY.” One consolation for ABC is that it’s faring better than burnoff episodes of “Commander in Chief” in the slot a year ago.
At the CW, Kevin Williamson’s teen sudser “Hidden Palms” has been netting weak 2 shares Wednesdays, and the net decided to double-pump episodes so it can wrap it sooner. CW, which has limited resources and does little off-net promotion, may have been better off launching it as an early fall premiere in August.
There are also a few shows that are being burned off in the summer after drawing scant interest from auds during the regular season.
NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” the Aaron Sorkin drama that began the fall with much fanfare, has averaged a 5 share in 18-49, putting it slightly behind repeats of CBS drama “Shark” in its Thursday 10 p.m. slot. Still, that’s better than what NBC would be doing with repeats of “ER” in its regular slot.
Faring worse (3 and 4 shares) are Fox’s combo of hostage drama “Standoff” on Friday and comedy “The Loop” on Sunday.
Cable, on the other hand, continues to target most of its firstrun scripted fare for summer, and its top dramas are now outperforming their firstrun summer scripted counterparts on broadcast.
Leading the way is TNT’s “The Closer,” which drew a big 8.8 million total viewers when it kicked off its third season on June 18. While the Kyra Sedgwick cop skein skews old with a median age of 56, it averages 2.3 million adults 18-49 — the best this summer for a cable drama.
Among rookies, USA’s limited-run series “The Starter Wife” started strong with 2.9 million adults 18-49 for its premiere but averaged 1.7 million the rest of the way.
The most promising newbie is Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” which has become the net’s most successful drama to date while also skewing relatively young (47.5 median age). Show established a high with its fifth episode (2 million adults 18-49), a hearty 33% gain on its June 3 preem (1.5 million).