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

  1. Groove says

    …remember “Seinfeld” and “Cheers?” They both had lackluster first seasons and I think it’s safe to assume that these shows didn’t suck. Please don’t cancel Studio 60!

  2. Sharon Lee Scottsdale, Arizona says

    Studio 60 Sunset strip is a great show, where did it go? Hopefully it will return soon. Real entertainment, interesting plot lines and new and different charactors. I am mesmorized by it and so are other boomers , I am 61 and love it and get it. Wake up NBC hang on to the good one.

  3. Doug S. says

    Why is it that we have to beg for a great show to stay on the air when we are drowning in TV trash? C’mon NBC get a grip! Stay with Studio 60 – it’s a gem and its audience will only grow.

  4. Claudine Girard says

    My husband and I just love Studio 60 and we are so desapointed that it is not on anymore. Please NBC, do not take it off the air permanently.

  5. Charles Robinson says

    It always amazes me when a network says they are cancelling a show because it loses x% of the viewers from the show that airs before it. Right, like people don’t have a remote control and a TV Guide in front of them. The whole lead-in thing is a joke. Especially when the hit show in question is about superheroes and the following show is a smart and funny drama. Then add in that it’s opposite a hit show on another network, and what do they expect?

    Of course, this is coming from the same network that put Conviction on following Las Vegas and complained that it was losing most of Las Vegas’ viewers. It’s hard to imagine a bigger gap in demographics than that. What, it didn’t occur to you geniuses to put it on following Law & Order?

    What’s even more frightening is that Heroes and Las Vegas are hit shows. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  6. mary b says

    We are a 3 generation family watching S/60. Me, granny, 2 40 something sons, one 19 year old grandson. We love the witt, intelligence, acting etc etc etc. The replacement show is deplorable, and I am Irish! Oh, please bring it back!

  7. says

    t’s comedy and drama, it’s engaging, the acting is great – a really enjoyable show…

    (perhapsm, it there’s a risk of it being cancelled, we could tape people to chairs and make them watch a whole episode – I’m sure after one episode, they’d watch another adn then another and then… :))

  8. Richard says

    PS to previous entry: Just as West Wing left us wishing that we could have a real-life president with half the integrity and decency of Jeb Bartlett, so Studio 60 leaves us wishing that TV executives could be half as smart and caring as the entire cast of Studio 60.

  9. Richard says

    The program Studio 60 is one of the best programs on TV. Removing it for violence and machismo, no matter how higly rated by phantom critics, is only another sign of a slide into decadence by “entertainment executives” of this sad country

  10. Joann says

    S60 is the only show that I consistently make sure I’m home for, and if I miss it I watch it online. Many weeks, when the show ends, we just sit there for a few seconds and then finally will say something like, “That was awesome. I wish it could be on for another hour.” The premise is brilliant and I especially appreciate the story line about Harriet and her struggles as a born-again Christian in a decidedly non-Christian environment. Thanks for the great way it has been handled. PLEASE keep this show on the air!

  11. Sue Lambright says

    It is to this show’s credit that not everyone liked it. That means it appealed to a more discerning viewer than 13 year old giddy girls who say “like” before every verb. I will miss this show. It had some annoying moments, but a first year show always has bugs to iron out. I think that with the talent involved, it would have developed quite well.
    I cannot see why the powers that be cannot find some channel in its lineup to keep this show going. I have a bunch of channels on the remote and I would make an effort to find it.

  12. Veta says

    Studio 60 is phenomenal, I hope NBC doesn’t blow it and let such a jewel go…it is a truly inspired show, with sophisticated concepts and writing and I’m keeping the faith!

    We must all band together to bring it back by popular demand if NBC does something crazy…

  13. Hannah says

    luckylindy makes an interesting point above. I am one of those TiVo users who forwards right through the commercials, so I can understand an ad-driven network’s resistance to counting me in the ratings, but I know there are more like me who would be willing to pay for such high quality, smart, funny, socially relevant programming. My favorite shows are on NBC–Scrubs, The Office, and Studio 60. My plea to the network, reiterating many above comments, is they they show the courage to do more than other networks are doing–pandering to the lowest common denominator. TV, like it or not, has a chokehold on the American public (watch any child engrossed in a Dora episode), and that much input into the thoughts of an under-educated and under-stimulated generation of Americans comes with the responsibility to raise the bar, to demand more.

  14. Cheri says

    I love the show!! It’s worth moving it to another night or time to see if the ratings go up!! I hope they do! I will miss Studio 60, my favorite show if not.

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