Fox’s reality social experiment in building a new society is over two months in. The network is pulling the plug on struggling unscripted series Utopia effective immediately. The live-streaming feeds from the Utopia compound will stop later today. The show participants, who had committed to spending a year away from their normal lives, will be notified and sent home.
This is an inevitable yet sad ending to one of the most ambitious and expensive reality efforts in the past few years and a rare misfire for Utopia creator John de Mol, the powerhouse reality producer behind mega hits Big Brother and The Voice. Despite a promising preview on Sunday after football, Utopia never took hold.
The series was originally scheduled to air on Tuesdays and Fridays for the first six weeks and then stay on Tuesday. After several low-rated outings on Tuesday that pulled in a 0.8 in adults 18-49, Utopia was pulled from the night and moved to Friday. It has performed dismally there even by Friday standards. This past Friday, which was Halloween, its episode, which would now be a series finale, tied a series low of paltry 0.5 in 18-49 and 1.56 million viewers that it previously hit in September. Contributing to its fate is the fact that Utopia never created any buzz or made any headlines, a must for a successful reality series, wrapping a very quiet run.
Utopia was one of two high-profile international reality formats to hit the U.S. marketplace last year after a successful local launch, triggering bidding situations. The other one, Rising Star, also underperformed for ABC this summer. Utopia also was the first big bet for Fox’s head of reality Simon Andreae and was to be one of the cornerstones of the network’s fall schedule.
As for Utopia‘s Friday 8 PM slot, Fox will air MasterChef Junior repeats in the hour starting this coming week.