Typically by this point in October, we’ve seen the networks go ahead and cancel a show or four. Yet, today is October 22 and not only have no shows been canceled, one network has even gone against prediction, twice, to keep poorly performing shows on air. On Wednesday, Fox announced that Red Band Society has earned four additional scripts. Somewhere, SNL’s Stefon is going, “whaat?”
Last week's episode of Red Band Society did 3.2 million total viewers and, even worse, a 1.0 rating. Usually ratings settle down a bit from the premiere, but during Red Band Society’s opening episode, the show only did a 1.1 rating and 3.3 million total viewers. While it has seemingly managed to maintain a steady audience, those numbers aren’t particularly good for network programming, especially compared to some of the other new network shows that have hit the schedule this season. This includes Fox’s own Gotham, which is doing at least a 4.0 each week (Yes that’s Live+3, but still).
This isn’t the first time that Fox has made an oddball decision about one of its poorly performing shows. Fox’s new Sunday Funday comedy Mulaney also premiered to lackluster ratings, landing a 1.0 rating during its premiere. Earlier this week, Fox made the decision to cut Mulaney’s episode order from 16 to 13 episodes, yet Mulaney hasn’t officially been canceled yet. It’s just hanging out, sucking in the ratings. The comedy will stick to its Sunday timeslot in the hopes that it will be able to land more viewers moving forward.
October and November are always weird months for Fox, since the network has the rights to air Major League Baseball. Ratings are always wonky during this period, and sometimes it can be hard to tell whether fans are missing shows due to the schedule confusion just as it is sometimes difficult for Fox’s shows to recoup after baseball finishes its run in the fall. Perhaps baseball is a slightly better excuse than ABC has for keeping Manhattan Love Story in its lineup, but outwardly, it’s still fairly weird that Red Band Society is getting additional scripts rather than less.
It is worth noting that Deadline says Red Band Society has been doing fairly well in Live+7 ratings, which may be enough of a reason to keep the cast and crew working on the series as Fox makes a decision about whether to sign on for a full season order.
Maybe Red Band Society will persevere just like the hospitalized kids on the show. My bet is still on Fox being the first network to give a show the heave-ho this fall, however. In the meantime, you can catch new episodes of Fox's Red Band Society on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.