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Here’s Why TV Networks Are Cancelling Way Fewer Shows This Fall

FOX's "Scream Queens" - Season OneFOX's "Scream Queens" - Season One
SCREAM QUEENS: Emma Roberts as Chanel Oberlin in the "Chainsaw" episode of SCREAM QUEENS.Photo by FOX 2015

By late November, there’s usually enough cancelled television shows to fill a graveyard. Not this season. TV execs have been much more lenient with shows struggling to attract viewers due to an overall decline in TV ratings and an increased hope that shows can live on through delayed viewing or on streaming services.

ABC’s “Wicked City,” a drama about serial killers, last week became the first show to get cancelled this season, according to the New York Times. In the past, execs have been willing to give a shows the axe as early as three weeks into the season.

Some shows, like Fox’s “Scream Queens,” haven’t gotten great overnight ratings but have done better when accounting for delayed viewing. That makes executives think the show could gain enough of an audience to be sold into syndication or to a streaming service like Netflix in the future. Other shows that have performed worse, like NBC’s “The Player,” haven’t been cancelled outright but have seen a reduction in the number of episodes ordered.

At the end of the day, in a struggling TV market, networks have little choice but to hope that flailing shows find a way to turn things around. “Most of the time when you cancel a show, and this is more true now than ever, the next thing you throw into that time period is going to do worse,” Warren Littlefield, former president of NBC Entertainment, told the Times.