‘Last Man Standing’ (featuring Tim Allen) was abruptly cancelled in early May 2017. The show had posted from strong ratings, leading conservative outlets and individuals alike to assume the cancellation was due to political reasons (Liberal television networks ‘punishing’ a conservative show/actor). Nevertheless:
- ABC has explained their reasoning (cancelling comedies on Friday)
- ABC did not own the show and only collected advertising revenues
- Sixth seasons generally see a spike in costs due to pay increases
- Last Man Standing had an aging (50+) audience, which is less lucrative to advertisers
- While the show was successful overall, it may not have been successful enough for ABC given the factors above
- Roseanne will be returning to ABM (Roseanne Barr has made it clear she’s Republican)
- This is hardly the first time a show with high ratings is cancelled
What we know
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey has denied that politics had anything to do with Last Man Standing’s cancellation:
“I canceled Last Man Standing for the same business and scheduling reasons that I canceled The Real O’Neals, Dr. Ken, The Catch and American Crime” stated Dungey. “…once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Friday, that was where we landed.”
Possible Business Reasons for Cancelling ‘Last Man Standing’
Vox has pointed out why, despite strong ratings, it might have made business sense to cancel the show. These include:
- After season five, unless a show is a blockbuster (like The Big Bang Theory or The Walking Dead) each additional season becomes more difficult to procure as actors, writers, technicians and others begin to earn pay bumps.
- The show has an aging viewership: Advertisers pay more to reach viewers under 50, as this demographic is seen as more lucrative since this is the age where people may still change the brands they purchase.
- ABC doesn’t own the series and therefore doesn’t collect ancillary revenues, which would instead go to he studio, which is Fox. Hence ABC has less financial incentive to move forward with the series than Fox. ABC would have the rights to advertising revenues, which as indicated above, were likely not so lucrative due to the show’s aging demographics.
Also, the claim has been made that Last Man Standing was cancelled after Tim Allen admitted he attended Trump’s inauguration, making it sounds as if the cancellation immediately followed the statement. Roughly two months passed in between, and Tim Allen has been a well-known Trump supporter since early 2016.
Despite the fact that the cancellation was likely a good business decision for ABC, it’s impossible to prove that politics didn’t somehow play a role in the decision since we can’t plumb the minds of the decision maker(s). However, there is certainly no reason to conclude that it was the reason, given the facts.
Other interesting Reads
- 8 Non-Political Reasons ABC Canceled Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’
- ‘Last Man Standing’: ABC Chief On Canceling Tim Allen Comedy, Politics & Ownership As Possible Factors
- The Many Reasons Behind ABC’s ‘Last Man Standing’ Cancellation
- No, ABC says, ‘Last Man Standing’ was not canceled because of Tim Allen’s politics
- 20 TV Shows That Were Cancelled Too Early
- The nine highest-rated canceled shows