In the past here at CarterMatt we’ve done a series of Ratings Debate articles at around April, and while those are fantastic for looking at shows that are down to the wire, the reality is that many shows are getting renewed earlier and earlier every year, and we want to have some time to get in a little bit of analysis. This is what some of these Ratings Bubble Reports are all about: Looking at the numbers so far, and also what can be done to ensure that a show is spared cancellation down the road.
“Castle” is an interesting place to start here. It’s a show that has devoted fans and performs decently in DVR figures, but it has also lost about 40% of its live audience in the 18-49 demographic since the start of the sixth season. We don’t think that natural viewer erosion is the sole culprit here, either. The producers have made some controversial decisions, and that has left of of ABC’s last great procedural shows in some danger of going away before season 9.
The good news – ABC is having a mediocre year overall. Other than Thursday night, can you really name a night that is free of any challenges? Maybe Friday is somewhat stable, but Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. is a huge hole, “Nashville” is struggling on Wednesdays, and Sundays have “Once Upon a Time” and a gap following it. “Quantico” has a ton of buzz, but its ratings have slipped to the point where they’re not that much better than “Castle.” Therefore, canceling the Nathan Fillion – Stana Katic series would mean that the network is losing another pitch-hitter that could come in and provide some ratings whenever the network needed them. You could always just give it a 13-episode final season, and have it fill a spot after another show is canceled. Executive producers Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter have said that they would like to make more.
Also, “Castle” is popular internationally. That’s not the most important factor, but it does matter.
The bad news – The ratings have dropped so much that you have to wonder what they would be for a season 9. Would we be below a 1.0 in the demo on a weekly basis? Maybe the show can stop the bleeding by just pairing up Rick and Kate and stopping with the controversial twists, but that may not be enough anymore. Another danger to the show could just be ABC’s apparent interest in turning “The Bachelor” in the winter into a three-hour event. If their “Bachelor Live” aftershow draws similar ratings, it’s a better player for them given that it costs significantly less to make. Sure, you could still you “Castle” for the fall and the spring if you wanted, but the odds of 22 episodes would be lower.
Current prediction – “Castle” should get a shortened final season, but we’d say the odds are about 50-50 for now. Given that we’ve been around for almost a decade, it would be a disservice for ABC to not tell the creative team that it is ending in enough time to allow for a proper send-off.
We’re going to have more of these Ratings Bubble Reports daily throughout the first few weeks of January; stay tuned! Also, you can sign up over here to secure some TV news in your inbox weekly, courtesy of our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: ABC.)