EXCLUSIVE: USA Network has opted not to proceed with new seasons of its high-profile drama series The Purge and Treadstone. Both were based on popular Universal movie franchises, The Purge and Bourne, respectively. The Purge was canceled after two seasons and Treadstone after one.
Both dramas were expensive while not drawing enough eyeballs on linear television. (The Purge was a breakout in Season 1, but its linear viewership was down 50% in Season, while remaining a solid demo performer). For USA sibling UCP, the studio behind both series, that could not be offset by streaming deals the company had with Amazon Prime.
The Purge and Treadstone join USA original drama series Dare Me, which also recently was canceled after one season. This is part of an overall programming shift at the NBCU network away from ongoing scripted series toward more live and unscripted programming, along with “eventized” scripted projects.
This is a programming strategy followed by a number of basic cable networks, including Turner, A+E and ViacomCBS nets, as it is becoming increasingly challenging for premium scripted series to be sustained by the linear ad-supported cable business model.
USA, whose flagship series are WWE Raw and Chrisley Knows Best, has been beefing up its unscripted slate, recently adding reboots of Temptation Island and The Biggest Loser. The two upcoming scripted programs on the network’s roster are both event-style, the second installment of anthology Dirty John, starring Christian Slater and Amanda Peet, and limited series Evel headline by Milo Ventimiglia.
The Purge series, from Blumhouse TV and UCP, revolved around a 12-hour period when all crime, including murder, is legal in an altered America ruled by a totalitarian political party. It was developed as a companion to the film franchise, which is still going, with a new installment coming up.
Film franchise creator James DeMonaco executive produced with Thomas Kelly, Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Sebastien K. Lemercier.
Written by Tim Kring, Treadstone explored the origin story and present-day actions of a CIA black ops program known as Operation Treadstone — a covert program that uses behavior-modification protocol to turn recruits into nearly superhuman assassins. The first season follows sleeper agents across the globe as they’re mysteriously “awakened” to resume their deadly missions.
Kring executive produced with Ramin Bahrani, who directed the pilot. Ben Smith, Jeffrey Weiner, Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas and Justin Levy also executive produced.