×

Saturday Turns Into Burnoff Bonanza for Broadcasters

Networks air original episodes of duds on Fourth of July weekend — and, of course, they fizzled

Fans of ratings-challenged series often cling to the flimsiest threads of hope that their shows will stick around.

But there’s one sure-fire sign that the network sees no future for your fave: Said show is airing an original episode on a Saturday night of a holiday weekend.

Last Saturday saw a virtual broadcast burnoff bonanza as four failed shows spread across three networks aired original episodes — to predictably meager ratings.

CBS’ “Brooklyn DA” was the “winner” among them with 2.41 million, followed by ABC’s “Zero Hour” (1.89 million) and “666 Park Avenue” (1.88 million) and NBC’s “Do No Harm” (1.56 million). None was among the night’s eight most-watched programs, according to Nielsen.

These shows ended up playing in firstrun on Fourth of July weekend after ingloriously short runs in their original timeslots. “666 Park Avenue” (pictured above) played nine times on Sunday last fall and was probably the only one of the bunch that could put up a reasonable argument for being pulled too soon.

It averaged a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 — higher than eight scripted series returning this fall on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. (And ABC fared much worse with the show that replaced “666” in the spring, “Red Widow”).

Do No Harm” and “Zero Hour” were Thursday dramas that premiered with fairly high hopes in the February sweep — but they each aired just twice on the night. And “Brooklyn DA,” a summer unscripted series, aired twice on Tuesdays  before shifting to Saturday last month.

The networks have been using Saturday to burn off shows for years.

Earlier this year, NBC demoted “Smash” from Tuesday to Saturday, where it aired most of its final episodes. And Fox used the Saturdays of Christmas and New Year’s week (as well as New Year’s Eve, a Monday) to unleash remaining episodes of failed fall drama “Mob Doctor.”

CBS was especially clever/cruel in the way it finished off “Made in Jersey.” The net brought it back for original episodes on Saturdays starting with Thanksgiving weekend and said goodbye to the show with back-to-back original episodes on Dec. 29.

The networks burn off episodes on little-watched nights to try to recoup some advertising money after making such a big financial commitment with a series order, typically of 13 episodes in length. But in some cases, like “Made in Jersey,” eight was enough.

More TV

  • annaleigh ashford rocky horror fox

    Annaleigh Ashford to Star in Chuck Lorre CBS Comedy Pilot 'B Positive'

    Annaleigh Ashford will star in the CBS multi-camera comedy pilot “B Positive.” In the show, faced with finding a kidney donor, newly divorced dad Drew is at the end of his rope when he runs into Gina (Ashford), a rough-around-the edges woman from his past who volunteers her own. Together they form an unlikely bond [...]

  • Paley Center Reveals First Slate of

    Paley Center Reveals First Slate of L.A. Events Without a Museum (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even as the Paley Center vacates its Beverly Hills museum, the org is still planning a full slate of L.A.-based events in the first half of 2020. As Variety previously reported, the Paley Center will no longer have a physical location on the west coast, but instead will hold events at a variety of locations [...]

  • Paul Rudd Will Ferrell

    Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell to Star in 'Shrink Next Door' Series Adaptation for MRC Television

    Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell are reuniting to star in a series adaptation of the Wondery and Bloomberg Media podcast “The Shrink Next Door,” Variety has learned. The series is in development at Media Rights Capital (MRC) Television with no network or streaming service currently attached. Inspired by true events, “The Shrink Next Door” is [...]

  • TV Decline Pay TV Placeholder

    Traditional Pay-TV Operators Lost 6 Million Subscribers in 2019 as Cord-Cutting Picks Up Speed

    The U.S. satellite and cable TV business declined at an unprecedented rate last year — with traditional pay-TV providers dropping a staggering 6 million customers, a 7% year-over-year decline. In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone, traditional TV distributors lost around 1.5 million subs, dropping to about 83 million total at year-end, according to estimates [...]

  • A+E Networks Renews Focus on Lifetime

    Listen: How A+E Networks Bucked the Trend and Fell Back in Love With Lifetime Movies

    In an era of overflowing choice, focus is more important than ever for traditional television executives. On the latest episode of Variety podcast Strictly Business, A+E Networks’ president of programming Rob Sharenow discusses how the cable giant pulled its flagship brands out of the ratings trenches over the past two years, thanks in large part [...]

  • Sarah Schechter David Madden

    Berlanti Productions Names Sarah Schechter Chairwoman and Partner, David Madden President

    Greg Berlanti, the prolific founder of Berlanti Productions, has promoted Sarah Schechter to the newly created role of chairwoman and partner, where she will continue to oversee both television and film at the company. And David Madden, the former AMC and Fox executive, will be Berlanti Productions’ new president, reporting to Berlanti and Schechter, overseeing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content