CBS has announced that they’re pulling Harper’s Island series from its high-profile, post-CSI timeslot and sending it to a primetime deathslot. However, the network contends that the move doesn’t diminish their faith in the series.
Harper’s Island revolves around a group of family and friends who come together for a wedding on a secluded island. Before the nuptials can commence the wedding guests are slain, one by one, by a mysterious killer. The show’s ensemble cast includes Elaine Cassidy, Christopher Gorham, Katie Cassidy, Cameron Richardson, Adam Campbell, Richard Burgi, Jim Beaver, C.J. Thomason, Victor Webster, Jay Brazeau, Dean Chekvala, Matt Barr, and Harry Hamlin.
The premiere of Harper’s aired on April 9th, opposite NBC’s new Southland series. The show won the timeslot in total viewership (10.49 million) but was second in the 18-49 demographic with a 2.7/8 rating/share. However, when you look a little closer, those numbers aren’t as positive as one might think. Harper’s lost over a third of its CSI lead-in audience and almost as much in the coveted demo. On top of that, about 10% of Harper’s audience tuned out midway through the premiere episode.
The second week, Harper’s dropped to an average of 8.17 million viewers and a 2.2/6 rating/share. Last Thursday’s installment fell once again to an audience of 7.45 million and a 2.0/6 in the demo. With this steady decline and consistent loss of the CSI lead-in, it certainly didn’t look like Harper’s was long for this world.
It’s no shocker that CBS has sent the 13-episode series to Saturday nights at 9pm beginning this week. Repeats of Criminal Minds will fill the timeslot for the immediate future.
But CBS has put a positive spin on the decision, based on the DVR and online viewership numbers. Kelly Kahl, the network’s Senior Executive VP of Prime Time, says, “The preliminary DVR and online streaming data suggest a passionate audience for Harper’s outside its current Thursday time period borders. This move gives us an opportunity to improve the time period on Thursday while experimenting with more original programming on Saturday, and continuing to serve an audience that is clearly engaged in the ongoing Harper’s Island story.”
Though this season of 13 episodes was always intended to conclude the mystery, the network was hoping to bring the show back for a second season, with a different cast and mystery. Though this move doesn’t completely close the door on that possibility, it’s highly unlikely. After all, when was the last time a show that was exiled to Saturday nights ended up returning for another season?
Image courtesy CBS.