Ratings debate: Can ABC’s ‘Revenge’ live to fight beyond season 2?

RevengeGoing into the start of this TV season, there were some shows that we also assumed would be safe automatically. “Revenge” was one of these shows. After all, it was a breakout hit its first season, was the talk of Emmy buzz for Madeleine Stowe, and was drawing solid ratings on Wednesday nights. When it was given the old “Desperate Housewives” timeslot after “One Upon a Time,” we thought that this was a vote of confidence that ABC wanted this show around for the long haul.

However, times have somewhat changed since then. The first half of “Revenge” season 2 was slow to get going, and by the time that it did, it was in that dreaded February period where ABC was faced with the same dilemma that it has been for years: either air new episodes of the show every couple of weeks in between the Super Bowl, the Grammys, or the Oscars, or have it go off the air for months at a time. Rather than risk fans getting hooked on something else, they went with some wonky scheduling. This was a problem, but it wasn’t the only problem, as we attribute the lower ratings this year to the confusing Initiative plot and Emily Thorne’s mother having less of a presence than expected.

Now that a third-season renewal is not necessarily guaranteed, the show is the subject of our new ratings debate.

Most recent performance – 1.5 in the 18-49 demographic for last new episode on March 31.

Why it should go – Serialized shows on networks tend to drop year to year, so do you want to give a full commitment to something that has already fallen on harder times? While “Once Upon a Time” has dropped plenty on its own, the network may see “Once: Wonderland” as a better timeslot companion.

Plus, you also have to consider here something we call “the syndication rule”: if this show is renewed here for a third season, you may as well pencil in a fourth, since it will have then the 88 episodes needed to go into syndication. ABC runs this show, so they will clearly want the extra revenue (even though this show probably would not syndicate very well).

Why it should stay – The truth of the matter is that while “Revenge” has struggled this year, ABC has already canceled “Last Resort,” “Zero Hour,” “666 Park Avenue,” and “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.” “Private Practice” is over, “Happy Endings” is sure to be canceled, and “Nashville” and “Body of Proof” are even more on the bubble. In a simple numbers game, you have to imagine that ABC needs more locks beyond “Once Upon a Time,” “Castle,” “Scandal,” and “Grey’s Anatomy” on their schedule.

The verdict – We won’t wast much time here. Pending something stunning, “”Revenge” will probably get a third-season pickup. While it the ratings are down, it does draw nice DVR viewers, and it’s hard to say if the viewing online is strong, as well. The show may have lost some of its online buzz, but it is still popular enough to continue for the time being. If this were CBS, however, it would be in big trouble.

What’s your take on “Revenge” decline this year? If you want to read some more of our ratings debate pieces, you can do so by heading on over to the link here.

Photo: ABC


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