Two of the more surprising cancellations last week were CBS' "Unforgettable" and NBC's "Harry's Law," which didn't survive the chopping block for next season.
Even though the ratings for both shows were respectable -- "Unforgettable" racked up 10 million viewers in its final episode, and "Harry's Law" was NBC's highest rated drama -- the problem is, the ratings came from people outside the coveted 18-49 demographic.
In other words, old people watched those shows.
In this age of diminishing audiences and increasing technology that marginalizes commercial watching, one wonders if this is a trend that the networks should continue.
For example, Dish TV announced last week a device that would allow the viewer to press a button, removing commercials entirely. Naturally, the networks went nuts since such a device would completely kill them.
And yet while advertisers like the younger demos, my guess would be that on many products out there, older folks buy these products as often, if not more so.
Take cars, for example. Yes, car companies like to appeal to young and pretty people in the 18-25 range by filling their ads with young and pretty people, but my guess is that with the population living longer and longer, as many 55-year-olds buy new cars as do 18-year-olds.
So my point is the networks are being shortsighted about canceling a series simply because it does poorly in one demographic. I can't say I was a fan of either show, but clearly, those shows did have their fans.
CBS has always skewed to an older audience, which is precisely why it wins the overall ratings war every year. "Unforgettable" actually underperformed compared to some of CBS' other, previously canceled shows, but who is to say that whatever drama CBS comes up with for next year to replace "Unforgettable" will get even 10 million? And who is to say viewers will keep coming to a network, knowing that a series might get cut if the demo ratings aren't there?
NBC's numbers have been so bad this season, it's hard to imagine that it can afford to cut a series that is even moderately successful. It's yet another bad decision from a network that has made nothing but bad decisions over the past five years. (Much like it's decision to bring back "Community" next year for 13 episodes, only to fire creator Dan Harmon the next day. Someone explain that one to me.)
Network execs need to start thinking outside the box and not alienate viewers.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Tonight marks the end of "Cougar Town" -- on ABC, anyway. It airs back-to-back new episodes from 8-9 p.m. before moving to TBS next fall. Also new is the season finale of the CW's "The LA Complex" at 9 p.m.
The History Channel continues tonight with Part 2 of "Hatfields & McCoys" at 9 p.m.