Kings: NBC Exec Explains Why the Ambitious Drama Failed

KingsUnder the reign of Ben Silverman, NBC spent a whole lot of money on Kings — about $4 million an episode. Unfortunately for the peacock network, most viewers weren’t interested and the network lost a lot of money.

After three weeks of low ratings, they shuffled the series off to die on Saturday evenings, when viewership is typically lower anyway. While many devoted fans tuned in each week to watch actors like Ian McShane, Christopher Egan, Allison Miller, Susanna Thompson, Sebastian Stan, Eamonn Walker, and Dylan Baker, the numbers weren’t enough for the show to go back into production.

Not only won’t Kings be returning for a second season but NBC isn’t planning on taking that kind of ambitious risk again. The network’s President of Primetime Entertainment, Angela Bromstad, said this week, “It was a great production, but our challenge now is, you need to sell something. People want to know what something is about.”

Bromstad continued, “Kings was a complex idea. It was originally developed when I was [at NBC] before. We didn’t make it [then] because we thought it was a little too high brow and too difficult to sell in a 30 second slot. It doesn’t mean we’re not looking for big ideas [but] they have to be big ideas that the audience can grab on to.”

What do you think? Was the concept too much for the audience to grasp or did it fail for another reason? Too good for network TV?

Canceled and renewed TV show

115 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. ron says

    Unbelievably good writing. Shocking that it actually made it to primetime TV. A rare jewel and totally enjoyable for the short time it was able to shine. If only networks were run by “normal” people – people who make schedules that people know when things are on and a commitment to gain an audience. I read long books instead.

  2. says

    Kings was a perfect example of speaking too much ‘truth’ about the distorted world around us..its a story that needs to be told, and listened/watched by everyone. I only offer this because like so many other people like myself, we want stories that inspire to do good things, to make us better people, and to make us wiser than when we first started. Sure, its just a show, but it can be so much more for many of us still willing to take something away from this timeless tale.

    Sign this petition to get ‘Kings’ back:

    Long live the ‘Kings’!

  3. Linda says

    I have watched kings upto the last episode in two days. it was wrong for it to be cancelled. if you do not want to air it sell it. Its wrong to leave such a great thing unfinished, it shows cowardice. Kings is great, we’d like to see David become King!

  4. Spike says

    I can’t wait for the big networks to crumble to TV on Demand. We’ll see the independent producers empowered to create a show not just for the dollar, but for the achievement of creating something new, fresh and intelligent. While the big networks remain on top, we will continue to loose great shows like Kings. I must say that Michael Green did a brilliant job with Kings, its one of my all time favourites. It was a massive pity that NBC was never advertised it properly. I only just heard about it last month :(

  5. the Deester says

    I’m very disappointed that ‘Kings’ won’t be back. It was a complex show, and that’s what I loved about it. It was well acted and smart. It was an original idea. Sometimes brainless tv is good when you just want to veg. But the majority of programming today has become copycatting garbage. And NBC in particular has become quite the receptacle for garbage. I can’t even watch the ‘Today’ show anymore. They’ve gone quite limp. Thank goodness for ‘Parenthood’. Hope I didn’t just jinx it! I’m jumping over to their station USA, where some of my favorite shows are. Just put ‘Parenthood’, ‘Philanthropist’, ‘Merlin’ and ‘Kings’ on USA, and you’ll have a complete network.

  6. B Evert says

    I agree totally, i faithfully watched every episode, sometimes more then once. I do think it would have survived as a short series coming back every year. something to consider . I did have alot of my friends watching it when I had them sit down and watch one episode. none really knew much about it. hoping you bring it back in some state. Bets

  7. Jeremiah says

    I’m just sick to death of NBC. I’m past my 20’s now, and hate to say getting ready to hit 40. It seems like every time I start to like a show the network gets rid of it. Guess what NETWORKS thats why I got HBO, SHOWTIME, and STARZ. I’m sick of this stupid shows that are designed for brainless idots. I know there cheap to make, but what does it say about the networks? It’s to the point I have to watch USA to get TV shows I like. I know USA is owned by NBC, but then why does NBC not put some of the shows that could not make on NBC to USA? Just like my name is Earl? I under stand USA budgets couldnt handle a show like that, but that what they got mini series for.
    If your going to get rid of a show NBC at least do an show that ends everything. That way no has a bad taste in there mouth. Right now NBC has left a bad taste in my mouth for to long, and thats why I have not watched NBC in over 4 months. REMEMBER PEOPLE WE DONT NEED NBC; THEY NEED US. Did NBC ever think why there ratings are down so bad. People are sick of it.
    Not every show on earth going to get the best ratings, but thats life. What do they think that they are going to have 28 hit shows on there hand? COME ON. There are 3 other major networks.

  8. Ms. Lewis says

    I watched the show about a month ago and brought it on Amazon. I watched the whole season in 3 to 4 days. I liked it a lot and told some of my god-sisters about it. Marketing is the key to success but NBC wants to blame the failure on the show. Nothing more to say besides, as others have said, I would like to see more.

  9. dott says

    Judging by the cast, the concept and story line, I just know I would have loved this show. That is, had I even known it existed; frankly the reason I did not know about “Kings,” is because it aired on NBC. Shipping it over to another network (e.g., ABC, as Richard suggested) would really help. In general, this recent trend is infuriating: shows that my family and I really enjoy are yanked after two or three episodes. Are times that tough, that Network higher-ups are that trigger-happy? Why not make any new show, a miniseries instead? To test the waters: the BBC in decades-past, aired “Fawlty Towers,” for only 12 episodes; and “Dr, Who,” which was only supposed to run for one night, November 22, 1963, did; but then it ran for years afterward. Both shows remained wildly popular with their viewing audiences. That “quality” doesn’t matter in TV is an old story. Yet, if there is ever to be any future, “death of Television,” it will come about only because of the poor decision-making skills of TV-Execs: they shoot themselves in their collective feet— and we react by voting with ours.

  10. Courtney says

    I absolutely agree with previous comments. This show was truly a refreshing piece of work and I hate that the average viewer’s intelligence is thought so poorly of that networks feel the need to produce shows that literally spell out the conclusion to every mystery or unaswered question. This show kept me glued and while it was still on I for one got the word out there to people who quite frankly had never even heard the name because evidently the only place they bothered to heavily advertise was New York where one of my sisters lives. No one else had heard of it. And then of course it didn’t help that when I said it should be on at a certain time so they could watch it… they kept switching it around. I bought the series on DVD the day it came out and intend to keep showing it to people. I would love to be able to tell them they weren’t watching it only to be left hanging at the end.

  11. Dennison says

    We enjoyed Kings so very much. The biggest obstacle in following Kings was figuring out when it was on; this week ‘yes’ on one night, next week ‘no’ but ‘yes’ on a different night. We missed so many episodes it was hard to keep it all ltogether. No advertising didn’t help much either.
    Had I been the network boss, I could have sold the show easily – just tell people when it’s on and be consistent. How about starting all over and run the series from the beginning or at least a major review. There’s enough drama in actual Old Testament to provide materials for several seasons. The deviations from “the Prophets” of the OT were a good addition and kept us anticipatingly unsure of where it was going, but the main themes followed OT closely enough to be educational.

  12. Taryn says

    I don’t think Kings was too high brow or too difficult to sell. I find it insulting that NBC doesn’t give intellectual credit to its viewing audience. Perhaps it wasn’t marketed properly, or perhaps Sunday and Saturday nights are really bad nights to try to start a new show, but if NBC had given Kings a chance to attract an audience, I don’t think they would have been disappointed. I wish NBC would give us some sort of conclusion. They took a chance by producing such an ambitious show; I wish they would take one again by bringing it to a conclusion, either in a movie or a mini-series. I really think it could succeed. Please give it a shot!

  13. says

    I just this minute saw the last episode for Kings: The Series as a DVD rental. I enjoyed all the episodes and was sorry to learn the series had been discontinued by NBC. I think it would have been more successful and profitable as a mini-series with a conclusion. On a scale of one to five, five being excellent, I would rate it a four (because it has left me hanging with too many questions). I wish NBC would bring it back as a mini-series with a conclusion. I bet they could make a profit from the sales of DVD……I would be the first to buy it!

    • Tates says

      The DVD is out and we have had it for several weeks. It’s definitely a favourite. I don’t think the series was too high-brow at all. I cannot accept that we are that much more intelligent than the average viewer – more intelligent, yes, but not THAT much more intelligent.

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