Was Alaskan Bush People handed a death sentence? If so, fans probably missed it. Although it’s common for shows to be moved around, not many TV viewers are aware of the implications much of the time. In the case of moving Alaskan Bush People to Friday, some are saying it signaled the end of the Alaskan wilderness show.
After all, Friday is often considered the “graveyard night” of TV: a place where television shows go to die.
By Discovery Channel’s own admission, Alaskan Bush People had a highly successful fourth season. Here’s a quote from a press release bragging about the series.
“The season premiere of Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People on an all-new night, Wednesdays, broke records as the series’ highest-rated season premiere across all 25-54’s, 18-49’s and 18-34’s in addition to Total Viewers P2+ in L + 3. The season premiere also set series highs across Women 18-49 and Persons and Women 18-34.”
Wednesdays were a great night for Alaskan Bush People. For hardcore fans of Alaskan Bush People, moving the show to Friday was no big deal. However, it’s not surprising that the change caused Alaskan Bush People to shed nearly half its audience. Friday isn’t a good night for TV shows wanting to hang on to their popularity — or even survive getting canceled.
In fact, the opposite is true. According to TV Tropes, Friday is a feared night for show runners because it’s often the place that networks send television shows to die. Quite a few shows have been canceled after getting moved to Friday prime time, leading the spot to be dubbed the “Friday Night Death Slot.”
But why is Friday night thought to be such a bad night for television? TV Tropes writes as follows.
“Viewers, especially those in certain coveted demographics like 18-34 year-olds, just don’t watch as much TV on Fridays as on other nights because they’re doing other things: hitting the bars, going to a sporting event, seeing a movie (see below for why this is especially relevant), or hanging out with friends.”
In other words, it’s the night when people are less likely to be home on the couch, making it hard for shows on these nights to demonstrate the ratings a show would enjoy on a Monday or Wednesday. TV By The Numbers confirms that Fridays and Saturdays tend to be traditionally nights with “lower ratings across the board.”
But does this mean that Alaskan Bush People is canceled?
Not necessarily. The pop culture website Railing Kill claims that Hoonah, Alaska, residents say producers and cast members have returned to the area to begin filming another season. Unfortunately, there’s no official word yet as to whether that’s true or if it means Alaskan Bush People is safe from the chopping block.
Still, the Discovery Channel’s silence regarding Alaskan Bush People is rather deafening; just last season it was one of the most popular reality TV shows around. Even worse, there were no such press releases praising the fifth season Alaskan Bush People or signaling that it had achieved anything ratings-related.
If moving Alaskan Bush People was, in fact, the equivalent of putting one foot in the grave, then fans shouldn’t be asking if Alaskan Bush People is canceled. Instead, they might want to start asking when.
Another question to ask? Why would the Discovery Channel seemingly sabotage such a popular Alaskan reality TV show by airing it on a Friday night? If I had to guess, I’d say the Brown family’s criminal case and subsequent use of the Discovery Channel to smear the Alaska judicial system isn’t something the network is comfortable with.
Still, ratings are ratings, and ratings dollars and are ratings dollars. The show wasn’t immediately given the ax for off-camera controversy, a fate met by shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and 19 Kids and Counting. However, one might view the decision to move Alaskan Bush People as a passive-aggressive gamble that Alaskan Bush People ratings will drop low enough to justify it being canceled — and without much controversy or fanfare.
We’ll only know for sure depending on whether or not Alaskan Bush People is renewed — and whether it will be put on the Discovery Channel on an ideal night should it return.
But what do you think: Is the move to Friday proof that the Discovery Channel intends to cancel it? Should Alaskan Bush People get moved to its previous Wednesday night time slot? Share your thoughts below!
[Image via the Discovery Channel]