Ratings debate: Will ABC’s ‘Nashville’ strike a chord?

ABCThere are plenty of shows on ABC right now that you could talk about as being “on the bubble” and in danger of being canceled, but we really cannot imagine any one of them being more of a hot topic for discussion right now than “Nashville.” This is a show that is critically-acclaimed for the most part, has some Golden Globe nominees, has a devoted following especially in the country-music world, but has performed only okay in the ratings. Therefore, this is going to be the sort of show that brings out protest and vitriol if the network makes the move to cancel it.

This is a show that we see the network really debating on down to the wire, so with that in mind, why not offer up some help? In the latest one of our ratings debate pieces, we’ll look at the case both for and against “Nashville” staying on the air, and at the very end here you can choose your desired fate for the show in the poll.

Most recent performance – 1.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic for the March 17 show.

Why it should go – While you want to make decisions with your heart, sometimes you have to make decisions with your head. When you consider that ABC has one of the top-rated comedies on the network in “Modern Family” airing an hour before “Nashville,” you would expect it to do better. The truth is that it has recently fallen below both “Chicago Fire” and “CSI” in live viewing, and there are a number of scripted dramas (“Once Upon a Time,” “Revenge,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Scandal”) that all draw consistently higher ratings.

From a network perspective, they may also be considered two outside the box thoughts right now as they near their decision.

1. “Body of Proof” has actually performed pretty well the past few weeks, and it has drawn around the same ratings in the 18-49 demographic while getting a good many more viewers. Since it’s more of a procedural, it will also repeat better in the long-term.

2. While “Nashville” is a much better series than another musical drama in “Smash,” the drop-off in ratings there between seasons 1 and 2 may have people concerned.

Why it should stay – The simply answer here is because it’s a good show, and in an age where cable is continuing to dominate broadcast TV with nominations and wins, you want to keep something of high quality around. This is why CBS keeps renewing “The Good Wife,” even if it is consistently one of their lower-rated shows. Can’t you move “Nashville” to a timeslot where you do not expect much (Thursdays at 8, since ABC can’t launch a show to save their lives there anyway) and see if it keeps the same audience?

Since this is a high-quality show, you could also make some sort of marketing push over the summer to get some new viewers hooked by making episodes available online for free viewing. While it’s not common for serial shows on networks to gain viewers over time, ABC has an example of a show that pulled it off earlier this season in “Scandal.”

The verdict – If “Nashville” wasn’t a critical darling, we’d say it would probably be canceled. However, the following that it has is at least enough for us to say it has a 70-75% chance of coming back, even if it is with a shorter season. This way, the network can show to fans that they have done what they can to support the show, that way if they do have to cancel it later on, the backlash will be lessened. (This is what they have done with “Happy Endings” this year, going as far as to even beg viewers to “save” the show in the promos.)

We would be surprised, though, if “Nashville” comes back in the same timeslot next fall. That’s just too valuable of real estate after the Wednesday-night comedy lineup.

As we said earlier, be sure to vote in the poll below, and you can read more of our ratings debates by heading on over to the link here.

Photo: ABC


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