Fox’s Red Band Society had a lot going for it — a well-reviewed pilot; an Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer, leading a cast of fresh-faced young actors; a super-successful Hollywood movie, The Fault In Our Stars, that had just tackled similar themes; and even a little pre-launch controversy with the removed racy bus billboards that helped awareness.
But the hospital drama from Amblin TV and ABC Studios didn’t take off. It was a very modest though stable Live+Same Day performer, averaging a 0.9 rating in adults 18-49 for its most recent airings before Fox opted to pull the show from the schedule after Episode 10 and stop production after the initial 13-episode order was completed. There was some ratings performance upside: Red Band was a gainer in time-shifted and digital viewing, getting a lift of more than 100% in 30-day multiplatform ratings, and did solid business in teens.
Red Band, based on Catalan format, has had a lot of fans at Fox both before and after the post-upfront regime change at the network. According to people close to the matter, Fox had conversations with ABC Studios over the past weeks about ways to keep the show alive. While the series’s soft ratings performance pretty much rules it out as a in-season player on a major broadcast network, I hear the network offered a summer run, which comes with a reduced license fee. That economic model is very hard to make work on a high-end series that had been developed and budgeted for a standard network airing, so I hear the studio would not go through with that.
However, I hear ABC Studios executives, who have been passionate about the concept — developing it twice, first at ABC and then at Fox — didn’t throw in the towel and tried shopping the show to other outlets but couldn’t find a new home.
As a result, Red Band Society will end its run after 13 episodes on Fox. The final unaired episodes will run on two consecutive Saturdays — one hour on January 31 and a two-hour finale on February 7.
There is something positive coming out of the demise of Red Band: It makes Spencer and an appealing young cast available at the kickoff of pilot season, giving them the opportunity to find a new broadcast show right away.