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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Seven Reasons Why It’s Not Cancelled

Studio 60 castIf you’re a fan of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, you know that the show’s been in trouble since its debut. NBC gave the show tons of promotion over the summer and even partnered with Netflix to offer a special DVD of the pilot episode that they released weeks prior to the debut. It was The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s return to series TV and NBC wanted to make sure everybody knew about it. Expectations were really high but the show just didn’t pull in the viewers.

Critics were mostly lukewarm to the show and viewers felt about the same. Tons of people tuned in to watch the breakout hit Heroes every week… and then tons of them left once Studio 60 began. Fewer people watched each week and it looked like Studio 60 was going to be cancelled late last year. But then NBC came out and reiterated their support for the show and even ordered additional episodes, enough to complete the season.

Like many, the series took a break for several weeks around the holidays (starting December 4th) and has back on the air just since January 22nd.

Well, NBC recently issued a release centered around two new shows and that freshman shows Studio 60 and 30 Rock (both coincidentally centered around Saturday Night Live-like shows) would be pulled from the NBC schedule in early and mid-March.

A crime drama from Academy Award winners Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco (for the movie Crash) called The Black Donnellys will take Studio 60′s spot on Monday nights as of March 5th. Former Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter’s new comedy Andy Barker will replace 30 Rock on Thursdays beginning March 15th. The sitcom 30 Rock will return to its regular spot on April 19th. Studio 60 will return “on a date to be determined.” Whoah! That’s a very scary phrase for TV series fans. It usually means a show will be back on the fifth… of never.

Many are panicking and believe that NBC is effectively canceling Studio 60. I don’t think so for a number of reasons:

1. Network support. A few weeks ago, Sorkin said that, when Studio 60 was picked up for the additional nine episodes in late 2006, now NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker assured him of the show’s future. Zucker told Sorkin that he wasn’t focusing on the back nine episodes but more in terms of seasons two and three of the series.

2. Even more network support. At the recent Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly vowed to stick with several quality freshman shows that have struggled to find a large audience – including Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Quite honestly, the network doesn’t have a lot of other options.

3. It’s all in the timing. When a series is cancelled, the networks typically pull a show from their schedule immediately. This “hiatus” has been planned for quite awhile. NBC originally announced it back in late November 2006. On top of that, during the recent Television Critic Association press tour, Aaron Sorkin mentioned that the show would run uninterrupted for an estimated seven weeks of new episodes. The March 5th hiatus means that only six new episodes will have aired but I believe this is because Studio 60 was originally scheduled to return a week earlier in January but was bumped by the Golden Globes telecast.

4. Studio 60′s ratings have improved slightly. The return episode on January 22nd saw the audience increase by 10%, netting the series it’s biggest audience since the fifth episode in October. The numbers have dropped a bit since the return but the show is basically matching its November viewer numbers.

5. The ratings are actually higher than they appear. Studio 60 is reportedly the most-recorded show in primetime via machines like TiVo, VCRs, DVRs, etc. As a result, the show’s viewership is almost 11% higher than what’s being reported. Nielsen doesn’t include recordings in their ratings reports because it’s assumed viewers are skipping commercials.

6. The show’s audience demographic is very desirable. Sorkin said that Studio 60 consistently draws the most upscale audience – the highest concentration of households making more than $100,000 a year and the highest concentration where the head of the household has at least four years of college. The numbers seem to indicate that he’s exaggerating a bit but, network TV is all about advertising and those are very desirable demographics. NBC can charge more for advertising for Studio 60 than another show that has more viewers but a less affluent demographic.

7. And finally, it’s Aaron Sorkin. C’mon. He’s a genius and gave NBC one of their great pride and joys, The West Wing. Sorkin and producer Thomas Schlamme both have a reputation for creating very high-quality and intelligent programming – shows that the peacock network can be proud of. Granted that’s certainly not enough to keep a show on the air but it sure doesn’t hurt.

When will Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip return? My best guest is that it will be back in time for the season (series?) finale to air in May sweeps. Sweeps months (November, February and May) are the months when advertising prices are set. Networks like to air their strongest programming in these months to attract the most viewers so they can charge more for commercials.

Of course, I could be totally wrong about this and things can certainly change very quickly. We’ll keep you posted if they do so stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

 

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty February 26, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I hope they do not cancel it. I love this show and I never miss an episode It is hard to find a show that I really like and get hooked on from the start but this one is it!

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Jacynda Earl February 26, 2007 at 6:59 am

We love Studio 60. We TiVo it as well. It is just so frustrating that they pull a show that “intelligent” people enjoy. That majority of people are obviously too dumb to get what is going on because they would rather watch these mindless reality shows where people eat worms!! Please put it back on for us with IQs that can get it.

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brett February 24, 2007 at 4:29 am

It’s so hard to find writing of this calibre on television, long live S60.

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superchicken February 23, 2007 at 6:35 pm

I hope you’re right .. I love the show. However a point must be made in all fairness … the ratings have only steadily declined. And if people are Tivo’ing the show then they aren’t exactly stopping for the commercials. Zucker has just been promoted to head cheese and the pressure will be on to do something .. and I find it hard to imagine that they would continue a show this pricey with so little to show for after 16 weeks.

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Emma February 23, 2007 at 1:04 pm

S60SS is the most intelligent drama on the tv right now. Long may it continue!

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Catherine February 23, 2007 at 1:04 pm

I love Studio 60. I was skeptical at first, but it’s one of my favorites now. I especially like Amanda Peet’s character. It’s not everyday you see the sucessful executive business woman as a mother too. I think she’s a great role model.
I hope the series comes back.
We record it, but sometimes we watch the commercials we really like such as Apple & PC commercials.
~ Catherine

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luckylindy February 23, 2007 at 11:05 am

Folks, maybe the time has come for a shift in the economic model. Would 4 million Studio 60 fans pay $10 to receive 3 episodes of the show–ad free? Kick in a sponsor or two and we pay less–or get more shows. Point is, who needs a network anymore. Let’s move cableTV-type thinking (programming, I mean) to a non-ad driven/must make gonzo profits downloadable model. We pay $3 for Starbucks…$10 for movies…$4 for magazines…why not subscribe, like magazines, to a TV show?

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Mark February 22, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I just learned of the hiatus and am deeply disappointed. I hope NBC does not cancel the series. This is a great show.

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Karen February 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I think they are pulling one of the best well written shows off the air. I hope they find a new day and time to air this show because it’s smart, emotional, funny and entertaining.

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Leah February 22, 2007 at 9:52 am

Can you forward all our comments to the network? My husband & I think this is one of the smartest & best currently on TV. We will definitely be waiting for the show to return!

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Jennifer February 22, 2007 at 9:23 am

I sincerely hope you are correct. This one gem of a show and I will be horribly disappointed if it does not come back. We need more S60 shows and less dumbed down reality TV shows.

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Natalie February 21, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Right on. This show needs more support! A thousand kudos for the article* * * *
I’m sharing it with all my MySpace friends and fans of the show.

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Dave February 20, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I think studio 60 is a great show, mostly because it is so well written. I also think the acting is far above TV stuff. This isn’t ground breaking, I just wanted to voice my support. I promise to watch every episode!

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Annette February 20, 2007 at 12:14 am

I LOVE Studio 60, it’s the one show that I look foward too, I do have school Monday night’s so I record it. PLEASE people let’s keep the show on the air! Plus they are soooo funny!

Big Big Big Fan!

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Bill February 19, 2007 at 10:23 pm

Regardless of whether it is renewed for season 2, I would personally like to thank NBC for making Studio 60. The show features some of the best acting, writing, and production ever seen on television. Fast, witty dialog, engaging story lines, and characters we actually care about – these should be reasons enough to keep it on the air. Again, thank you NBC for a fine show!

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