Peacock Exec Explains Why It Canceled Several Major Shows

What factors influence the decision to keep or cancel a television show? That was the key question presented to Susan Rovner, the chairman of entertainment content at NBCUniversal TV and streaming, during a recent appearance on TV's Top 5, The Hollywood Reporter's TV podcast. Peacock just reached 20 million subscribers, ended its free tier for new users, and expects losses of $3 billion this year to grow as the executive joined the show. Meanwhile, she's enjoying critical praise for Poker Face on Peacock, a ratings success for Night Court on NBC, and other triumphs. However, even with its critically lauded programming, NBC, and Peacock in particular, have placed many of its newest shows on the chopping block after they have barely premiered. Peacock recently canceled One of Us Is Lying and Julie Plec's Vampire Academy while also axing Dead Day, which was to have united Plec and Kevin Williamson for the first time since Vampire Diaries

When asked what the takeaway was from those missteps, Rovner said it was simply "too soon to put those shows up on the platform. What we realized is we have to get the parents before we get the teens. And I'm hoping that once we get the parents with shows like Poker Face and shows like Traitors, that we will be able to do a show like Vampire Academy a few years from now. The timing wasn't right. We didn't have the skill yet to support bringing in a young adult audience." With Dead Day, she conceded that "It was more of a creative decision. We ultimately didn't think that completely fit the platform. I'm hoping we can figure out another project that will work for the platform; I want to work with them forever," Rovner said.

The executive noted that she didn't believe Peacock's demographic situation was specific to the platform. "It's about launching a new service. When you launch a new service, you have to get to scale. And we are getting to scale. The numbers that were released last week show how much we've grown," she added. "I feel so optimistic that those numbers are going to keep growing. So, within a year to two years, our scale should be big enough that we can try shows like that again." Rovner was also asked why the recent Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell reboots for Peacock failed to take off, and she admitted that she did not greenlight either show, adding, "I think that also falls under it's hard to get scale on a streaming service with comedies. They didn't bring in the scale that the people that greenlit them were hoping for. I think it was just too soon. The people before me were leaning more into comedy, and I can't really speak to as to why. Ultimately, it wasn't the right thing to lean into initially."