Fox Cancels 'Pitch' - What Happened?
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Television

Fox Cancels 'Pitch' - What Happened?

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UPDATE: Star of the show Kylie Bunbury has shared a sort of postmortem following the news of the series' cancellation, via her Instagram page. Read what she had to say immediately below, and then read my original piece of the cancellation:

And here's my original piece on the series' cancellation....


It's official: Fox has canceled its much-hyped baseball drama "Pitch" after just 1 season.

So what happened? The usual: low ratings that didn't match anticipation and expectations.

The series, which followed a young female pitcher (star Kylie Bunbury) who defied the odds when she became the first woman to play in the major leagues, struggled to find an audience, averaging 4.7 million total viewers and 1.4 in the 18-49 demographic.

It had a neat hook. And the fact that the lead is black (well-played by relative newcomer Bunbury) made it even more interesting, as we hoped to watch her fighting to survive a tough, male only field, while also dealing with subtle racism, blatant sexism and a demanding father, who also happens to be a failed baseball player, for whom nothing is ever good enough.

The network evidently had high confidence in the series, moving its premiere from its original broadcast date of early 2017, to September 2016; and the show did get some good reviews. But "Pitch" its ratings simply weren't strong enough; and it doesn't appear that the network made any decisive moves to attract a new, or larger audience so that it could survive.

For the premiere on Thursday Sept. 22, 2016, the show drew a measly 1.1 rating, getting just over 4 million viewers, while it was stomped by CBS' "Thursday Night Football" which got a 4.2 rating and 13 million viewers. At the same time, "Chicago Med" on NBC got 7 million viewers.

The second episode on Sept. 29 fared worse in terms of viewership than the premiere, dropping 13%, drawing 3.6 million viewers. And it never quite built up enough steam to recover. But it's obvious that it was mistake for Fox to schedule the show against football games, which always garner huge audiences; especially as other original series programmed opposite football night fared better, like "Chicago Med" on NBC and ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder," which drew six million watchers, and "Grey's Anatomy" which drew 9 million viewers on Sept 22. These more established series were drawing the majority of the counter-programming audience. Also, didn't it occur to Fox that the very audience that might be interested in a sports drama like "Pitch" might be watching football instead on the same night?

As is usually the case in TV land, a new show tends to perform strongest when it premieres. It's not a steadfast rule, but they typically score their highest viewership for the very first episode, if only because audiences are curious and want to find out whether the show is something they'd want to keep watching. Drop-offs after episode 1 are expected, so the higher the premiere episode rates in terms of viewership, the better for the long term. If it starts out with underwhelming numbers, unless something is changed to increase viewership, it will only get uglier.

"Pitch" had another problem that (for people like me anyway) hurt it. I watched the first episode and I found it reasonably engaging, though I couldn't really get into the drama for some reason. Also it didn't help that the first episode ended with a cheap, shock plot twist that one could've seen coming a mile away, which was obviously there to entice audiences to tune in for the next episode.

The second episode was odd since there was no mention of what occurred at the end of the first episode; it was as if it never happened. No matter, because, unlike the first episode, which I was at least engaged by, I found the second episode boring, and didn't make it halfway though, before I realized what was really keeping me from enjoying the show.

It was about baseball. And I HATE baseball. Like Bill Cosby once said: "It's nine guys standing out in a field doing nothing".

While baseball is watched by millions of fans, I'm sure I can't be the only person who feels the way I do about the sport, and I'm sure there are nuances and details about the game worked into the show that go completely over my head. And while, like a lot of you I would assume (who aren't sports fans either) who also tuned in to check out the show because it had a black female lead, it's obvious that I wasn't the audience for it. And, frankly, I don't think it would've made any difference whether the show was centered around football or basketball, since I never watch those either. I'm just not a sports fan.

But there are obviously countless sports fans out there - including baseball fans - who I would think would've been enough to draw stronger ratings for the series, and who would've wanted to make sure it survived. But the show just never quite caught on as many of us expected. I should add that there are actually other shows on Thursday nights that were performing worse, like Fox's "Rosewood" which may also be on the chopping block.

I think "Pitch" was maybe one of those series that would've been better off on a cable TV network like FX, where more chances could've been taking with it, making it edgier, and also because for a network like FX, four million viewers makes for a hit series.

Did you watch "Pitch"? Why or why not?

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