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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.

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