The move marks the network's exit from original scripted content.
May 30, 2017
It is being reported that WGN America has cancelled Underground, its last remaining scripted original, after two seasons. The move had been somewhat expected after the cable network axed its top-rated series Outsiders last month.
The move to clean house comes as a result of a recent decision by WGN America to focus on a more diverse programming strategy aimed at reaching a broader audience. What the means exactly, is not yet clear, though it is speculated that the cable network will shift to existing programming that is looking for a second outlet and shows with reduced licensing fees.
As for the future of Underground, word is that Sony Pictures Television has been actively looking to find it a new home. Their efforts have so far not yielded any results, with BET and OWN reportedly having already passed on it.
Set in 1857, Underground focused on a plantation in Georgia and a group of slaves who plan a daring 600-mile escape from their captors. While on the run they are helped by an abolitionist couple who operate a station on the Underground Railroad.
But they will not make money. They will lose money.
It's possible that these programs were profitable at some part of the deal, but most likely, these shows were loss-leaders trying to draw eyes to the channel so that its reruns and other programming could rise with the tide. Since all of these WGNA shows, as good as they were, failed to draw in more than a million viewers per episode (on multi-million-dollar per-episode budgets), the network has changed its strategy. It sucks, but the economics make sense.
A lot of people are complaining about the short lifespans of WGN shows, but honestly Salem and Manhattan both ran out of gas. Salem's 3rd season had no rudder. I don't even think I saw the last few episodes because they couldn't hold my attention.
But still, WGN's decision to completely exit from future original scripted series is disappointing. TV needs outlets for quality shows that don't get the attention of networks and bigger cable channels. Just how many more reruns of Law & Order and Last Man Standing do we need?
Thank goodness for PBS ... BBC ...and FX ...
Could be interesting. Your proposed line-up isn't for me, but I get what you're saying: talent is shaking out of Fox News, maybe now's the time to try a challenger. And otherwise, as just a repeats channel with an occasional vs-Cubs game I'd want to catch there, it's got limited use on the dial as far as I see it now that it's out of scripted shows.
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