A week after touting the network ratings growth generated by Outsiders, WGN America has cancelled its most watched series after two seasons.
“After three years of investing in marquee, brand-defining dramas, WGN America has successfully expanded its audience, its reach, and its presence in the minds of viewers. In our next phase, we intend to expand our original and unique content to continue growing our relevance and appeal to the widest possible audience. To achieve this, we will be reallocating our resources to a more diverse programming strategy and to new structures, enabling us to expand both the quantity and breadth of content aired by WGN America. This move is designed to deliver even more value to our advertising and distribution partners. To free up the resources to reach this goal, we will unfortunately not be renewing Outsiders. We are grateful to our production partners at Sony Pictures Television and the terrifically talented people who made the show possible,” said interim WGN America President and CEO Peter Kern in a statement.
Averaging 2 million total viewers in Live + 7 ratings and increasing the network’s prior time period averaging in triple digits among total viewers (305%) and adults 25-54 (250%), Outsiders is one of the most surprising cancellations in a while. Though it hasn’t broken through with critics yet, the series has given WGN America very solid footing in the original scripted content arms race, the type of awareness that the network could’ve easily used in order to leverage a sturdy brand out of. In this type of television environment, where there are more choices than some know what to do with, networks looking to make in-roads with audiences cannot inexplicable cancel shows and expect to be taken seriously. To become an HBO, FX, or AMC, you have to curry favor with audiences and build a relationship centered around trust; every network out there has made a questionable cancellation or two, but there’s usually a low-rated gem that each has carried longer than expected to balance that out or a show that’s been able to live its full life span out peacefully. Thus far, out of its first three originals, WGN America has cancelled its most watched drama and put its flagship drama (Salem) on an 18-month hiatus before a mid-season cancellation. Because of this, exactly what incentive has the network given to sample their shows or, better yet, figure out where it is on your television?
From Peter Mattei, Outsiders, which was in my top 10 shows of 2016, told the story of an isolationist Kentucky family whose homestead comes under siege from a coal company. The series starred David Morse (Treme), Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy), and Gillian Alexy (McLeod’s Daughters).
The series finale of Outsiders will air Tuesday, April 25th at 9:00 on WGN America.