Sleepy Hollow could soon be joining the list of canceled shows in 2016, with sinking ratings and a season finale that killed off two of its main stars while angering a large contingent of fans.
There have been rumors about the Fox suspense/drama getting the axe circulating for months, as Sleepy Hollow fell off to all-time low ratings earlier in the season. Though there are rumors that Fox may order another season, the Zap2It blog TV By The Numbers believes this will likely not be the case.
The blog’s “Bear” rates the show as likely cancellation.
“But all the on-background sources in the world don’t change the fact that the show’s ratings are substandard. Those with an interest in talking up the show’s prospects can’t change the fact that it got above a 1.0 rating exactly three times this season.
“FOX may be desperate enough for programming next season that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ gets a reprieve and makes this prediction incorrect. But the Bear isn’t betting on it.”
But even as rumors have circulated on the possible cancellation of Sleepy Hollow, other television experts believe that some changing viewing habits may spare it. This year networks showed a historic reluctance to scrap their shows, with the first cancellation of the 2015-16 season not coming until the ABC drama Wicked City was axed in November. It has been more than 50 years since the entire slate of new fall shows lasted that long, and to many, it was a sign of a changing atmosphere for shows.
The Los Angeles Times noted that television executives are relying less on hard ratings to make decisions, knowing that streaming video services like Hulu are playing an ever-increasing role in how viewers watch shows.
“The absence of cancellations is another sign of the tectonic shifts underway in the television industry. Thanks to digital recording and streaming, millions of viewers no longer watch shows when they are first telecast — making network executives reluctant to kill a program that may be quietly building an audience that’s not being counted by traditional ratings.”
This is seen in the increasing frequency that these services toss a lifeline to popular shows that were canceled. Hulu picked up The Mindy Project after it was canceled by Fox, and Yahoo! took a chance on Community after NBC canceled it.
Joe Saltzman, professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, noted that shows are getting longer to prove themselves.
“The consumer no longer goes to the three networks to see what’s on the air. They use their DVR and streaming to see whatever they want whenever they want to,” Saltzman told the Los Angeles Times.
“In this modern era, it is very unlikely for one program to get an order of 26 episodes,” Saltzman said. “Orders are usually five to 10 to a dozen episodes. And if the show hits, such as ‘Empire,’ the studio or network can order up a new batch of episodes, promote them and put them on whenever they want to.”
Sleepy Hollow has another big factor that could point to it becoming one of the canceled TV shows in 2016 — the ire of its fans over how the show has killed off characters of color. The season finale angered many fans when Beharie, a black woman, was killed off in a way that helped the storyline of a white male character. The decision led many fans to speak out on social media, drawing some unwanted attention to a show already on the edge of cancellation.
[Image via Fox]