The cable landscape has been changing at a rapid pace in recent years and the various channels have struggled to find ways to keep up. A couple of years ago, TNT started shedding older shows of a procedural nature in favor of darker programs likes Public Morals and Legends. The ratings have shown that's not what TNT's audiences have really been looking for in its TV series, and now it looks like TNT is backtracking. The network revealed this week that it would like to return to a lineup that is heavy on lighthearted TV procedurals.
Before you get too nervous, a show like The Last Ship should not be going anywhere. However, TNT has had trouble getting some of its harder hitting dramas to really reach audiences. Darker shows like Public Morals, Legends and Agent X have all gotten cancelled fairly early into their respective runs. Likewise, TNT opted to cancel some of its more lighthearted fare, including shows like Perception to make room for these other quickly cancelled dramas. Now that the last of the network's former procedural block--See: Rizzoli and Isles--has begun to go the way of the dinosaur, the network is planning to reinvent itself again.
The news regarding TNT's big programming changes came at the Television Critics Association press tour (via Deadline). At the event, programming head Kevin Reilly noted that the network has come to the realization that their audience was more attracted to the network's former fare than some of its most recent programming. Here's what he had to say:
There is still an audience that likes a good closed-ended story... I really don't think everything should be dark.
The move is likely coming because, despite the fact that Rizzoli & Isles is ending, the show has continued to be among the network's strongest performers. The drama has been able to stick around because it has found an audience--not because it is a prestige drama but because the show offers fun characters that people can return to again and again. The audience that enjoys shows like Rizzoli & Isles wants to watch programs with fun and familiar characters. They want the same kind-of format when they tune in each week. Prestige TV has certainly found a place on various networks, but there's nothing wrong with catering to a different audience.
When shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sherlock and others started getting major traction at awards ceremonies, various networks began trying to figure out a way to make their programming hit in the same sort of way. Some of these experiments have done alright for the major networks, but others have actually had trouble gaining some traction. Even networks like AMC have had trouble finding dramas that have been as popular as Breaking Bad was and The Walking Dead is now. The cable landscape is changing, and the networks are doing whatever they can to find a niche between subscription cable, network shows and all of the streaming options in this new world of TV.