A fan campaign didn’t save ‘Magnum PI’ A trade deal did.


NBC saved “Magnum PI” from cancellation, and the show’s fans are praising their efforts to revive the series after CBS canceled it.

I’m happy for the “Magnum” fans. I am really. But the truth is, their campaign has nothing to do with saving the show. The cancellation was a business decision. Pickup was a business decision.

When CBS removed “Magnum” in May, it was a bit of a surprise. The series averaged 7.3 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demo in its fourth season – not great, but not terrible, although down from the previous season.

The numbers that really mattered had dollar signs in front of them. “Magnum” is produced by Universal Television, and CBS would not agree to pay as much for the show as Universal wanted. And CBS had no incentive to pick it up because it doesn’t own the show, so it wasn’t going to make any money off of “Magnum” when it was sold in reruns.

NBC and Universal are — surprise! — both part of NBCUniversal. So basically the company sold itself “Magnum, PI”. Because it pays to sell episodes after they air on the NBC broadcast network.

By the way, NBC has ordered two more seasons, but each will only have 10 episodes. Seasons 1, 2, and 4 were each 20 episodes; the pandemic-shortened season 3 was 16 episodes.

And I’m not telling you that “Magnum PI” viewers have nothing to do with the show being ripped from the jaws of death. But their contribution was to watch the show, not send emails or go to social media to try to save it.

(AP Photo | Paramount) ‘Star Trek’ actors DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, George Takei and James Doohan, left to right.

Conscious cancellation

A good number of series have been saved from cancellation over the years – either by moving to new outlets or staying put – and some of them have succeeded, in one way or another. other.

This list includes “My Three Sons”, “Star Trek”, “Cagney & Lacey”, “Family Guy”, “Lucifer”, “Arrested Development”, “The Expanse”, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, “The Mindy Project “. “, “Last Man Standing”, “Nashville”, “Cougar Town”, “Futurama”, “Scrubs” and “Stargate SG-1”. Just to name a few.

There are exceptions, but a canceled show usually doesn’t become a big hit when it’s taped. Often it is the opposite. There was a lot of hype and a well-orchestrated campaign that convinced CBS to change its mind after it canceled “Jericho” in 2008, and the network brought the series back for a seven-episode second season.

But despite all the publicity, “Jericho” slumped in ratings. The most-watched Season 2 episode was seen by fewer viewers than the least-watched Season 1 episode.

And it served as the first proof that in the age of social media, a loud campaign to save a show doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

(Bill Inoshita | CBS) “JAG” features Catherine Bell and David James Elliott as guest stars in an episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

Worst cancellation ever?

In 1996, NBC, at the top of the ratings, canceled “JAG” after only one season. He didn’t even air the last of the 22 episodes he produced.

CBS, mired in third place, saved “JAG” from cancellation. Ratings increased, peaking at No. 15 in Season 7, and CBS aired nine seasons and 205 episodes, for a total of 227.

But that’s not the end of the story. In 2003, CBS launched a spin-off of “JAG” – a little show you might have heard of called “NCIS.” It’s still airing on CBS today, 19 seasons and 435 (and counting) episodes later. He has been in the top five in the rankings for the past 14 seasons, reaching No. 1 in 2012-13

And “NCIS” spawned its own spinoffs: “NCIS: Los Angeles” (since 2008), 13 seasons, 382 episodes (and more); “NCIS: New Orleans” (2014-2021), seven seasons; 155 episodes; and “NCIS: Hawaii” (2021-present), one season, 22 episodes (and counting).

That’s 1,199 episodes of “JAG,” its spinoff and spinoff, that made CBS billions of dollars because NBC canceled “JAG” 26 years ago.

(Sonja Flemming/CBS) Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle and William Petersen as Gil Grissom in “CSI: Vegas.”

Worst programming decision of all time?

ABC didn’t cancel “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” because it never aired the show. But after Disney-owned Touchstone Studios developed it with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Disney-owned ABC refused to air it. And NBC and Fox have also succeeded.

But CBS was interested. Disney/Touchstone executives pulled out of the show, thinking it would kill the project, but CBS Studios stepped in as a producing partner.

“CSI” debuted in 2000 and was No. 10 in the charts that season. He was No. 2 the following season and No. 1 the following season, and remained in the top four or five for the next six seasons. It ran for 15 seasons and 335 episodes, with a two-hour finale airing in 2015.

It also generated several spin-offs: “CSI: Miami” (2002-2012), 10 seasons, 232 episodes; “CSI: New York” (2004-2013) nine seasons, 197 episodes; “CSI: Cyber” (2015-2016), two seasons, 31 episodes; and “CSI: Vegas” (2021-present), one season, 10 episodes (and counting).

It’s 807 hours of “CSI” and its spinoffs, which made CBS billions of dollars because ABC programmers and studio executives didn’t realize what they had 22 years ago. .

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