This evening, we must say goodbye to the Code Black TV show after three short seasons on the air. Series get cancelled all the time — mostly due to low ratings — but, did this Wednesday night series deserve the ax or, should it have been renewed for a fourth season instead?
A CBS medical drama, Code Black stars Marcia Gay Harden, Luis Guzmán, Rob Lowe, Boris Kodjoe, Harry Ford, Benjamin Hollingsworth, William Allen Young, Emily Tyra, Noah Gray-Cabey, Emily Alyn Lind, and Moon Bloodgood. The story unfolds at Angels Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles — the busiest, most notorious ER in the country. The high patient volume dwarfs the resources available to the exceptional staff — creating a condition known as Code Black.
Debuting in September 2015, the first season of Code Black averaged a 1.27 rating in the 18-49 demographic with 7.11 million viewers. It was a middle-of-the-road performer for CBS that year and was firmly on the bubble.
It ended up getting a second season renewal but that came with a price. In an attempt to boost the ratings, some cast changes were made and Rob Lowe (whose FOX comedy, The Grinder, had just been cancelled) joined the cast.
Unfortunately, those changes didn’t seem to help the ratings. Season two of Code Black averaged a 0.97 in the demo with 5.98 million. That was down by 23% and 16%, respectively.
It’s very tough to launch a season so late in the broadcast season when viewers are either wrapped up in the final episodes of existing shows or starting to shift their attention to warmer month activities. CBS might have done better to hold season three until after Memorial Day or July 4th but, they didn’t.
Season three has averaged a 0.70 rating in the demo with 5.69 million viewers. For a summer CBS show, that’s not too shabby. Compared to season two, that’s down by 27% in the demo but down by just 5% in viewership. That’s pretty rare to have such a moderate year-to-year decline in viewers. Like most CBS programs, this one tends to skew older.
Compared to CBS’ other summer shows, Code Black is doing quite respectably. In the demo, it’s outperforming scripted series Salvation and Elementary. In viewership, it’s beating all of CBS’ summer shows, including all three nights of Big Brother.
While Code Black’s ratings have not ever been stellar, it’s hard to understand why the network didn’t renew Code Black for a fourth season. They could air it during Summer 2019 so they could amass enough episodes for syndication. Perhaps that scenario didn’t make sense financially. Alas, we may never know.
What do you think? Do you think CBS should have cancelled Code Black or renewed it for a fourth season?