ABC is taking a wait and see approach with new drama series The Whispers. Not ready to make a renewal or cancellation call on the series five episodes into its run, ABC and producing studio ABC Studios are allowing the options on the cast of the midseason-turned-summer series to expire today.
Before making a decision, the network is expected to take a few more weeks to sift through ratings data for the heavily DVR-ed series, particularly the important C3 ratings, which reflect commercials consumption within 3 days of original air date. The Whispers failed to get a last-minute boost from a strong Live+same day showing last night, slipping to a season low of a 0.8 in adults 18-49.
With uncertainty over Season 2, I hear ABC and ABCS felt it was too expensive to pick up the cast options that guarantee actors a 13-episode pay, especially as the show’s producers have a creative plan for Season 2 that would expand the scope of the implications caused by the events in the first season, which would call for some tweaks and cast turnover. There had been an effort to get a short, two-week option extension but that did not pan out, with star Lily Rabe, who had been looking to leave the show full-time, as a holdout. Rabe, along with other cast members, were not happy last May when, after the pilot, shot in Los Angeles, was picked up to series, the show was relocated to Vancouver. Moving the show back to Los Angeles is considered too expensive, and I hear the producers already had put a plan in place for Rabe to only do a limited number of episodes in Season 2, which would accomodate her theater and feature schedule.
With the options expiring, the series may lose Milo Ventimiglia, who I hear has been eyed for the lead of USA pilot Shooter. The cast of the show also includes Barry Sloane, Derek Webster, Kristen Connolly, Kylie Rogers and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, with the network and producers hoping that most of them would stick around and re-join the series in case of a second-season renewal.
Whispers had shown promise in the early going, especially in DVR viewing. The genre-tinged series premiered with a 1.5 Live+Same Day rating among adults 18-49 and 5.7 million viewers in the Monday 10 PM hour to become the network’s highest-rated summer scripted premiere since Rookie Blue in 2010. With a strong delayed viewing, The Whispers‘ premiere result shot up +53% to a 2.3 in Live+3, becoming the highest-rated L+3 summer debut on any network since CBS’ Under The Dome in 2013. (In Live+7, the rise was +67% to 2.5). While The Whispers‘ Live+SD ratings have dipped after the solid debut, they had been consistent — 1.0. 0.9, 1.0 — until last night when the show dropped 20% to a low of 0.8. However, the portion of DVR viewing has been increasing. In Week 2, it jumped +90% in L+7 to a 1.9 in 18-49. On average in the Live+3 data, The Whispers grows 64% over L+SD in 18-49. The new drama also adds another 2 million total viewers, drawing an average audience of 6.6 million viewers in L3.
Created/co-executive produced by Soo Hugh, in Whispers, someone or something is manipulating children to do unthinkable things. Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey Darryl Frank of Amblin TV are executive producing with Zack Estrin and Dawn Parouse Olmstead.