Fans of Station 19 weren't happy at the news that the emergency drama will end with its upcoming seventh season. The proceduspinoff of Grey's Anatomy focusing on a fire/rescue team in Seattle, has been one of ABC's more notable shows. The two series often cross over and Station 19 serving as a lead-in to Grey's has helped its own ratings.
A big surprise last May was when Fox unexpectedly canceled 911, and ABC snatched it up. Given 911 was still a success, having it jump networks was unexpected (especially as the spin off 911: Lone Star is staying on Fox).
So with Station 19 announced as canceled, it can be logical to believe it's because ABC figures with 911, they don't need two similar series on the air at the same time. But the reality is a bit more complex.
Why is Station 19 being canceled?
Now, it's true there is a cost factor involved in the 911-Station 19 decisions. 911 is known for its high budgets due to the major special effects of the disasters shown in the series. Indeed, the promo for the upcoming season 7 premiere shows a disaster on a cruise ship and between the effects and a cast that includes Peter Krause and Angela Bassett, the show commands a budget close to $9 million per episode.
So, the idea Station 19 is being canceled to make room for 911 (complete with the latter getting the plum Thursday 8 pm time slot) makes sense. But according to insiders quoted in a Deadline article, the series would likely have been canceled anyway as the network felt it had "run its course" in terms of storylines. The cost of a large ensemble drama was also a factor.
Another factor is that while Grey's has good ratings success overseas, firefighter/first responder dramas don't do as well with international audiences. ABC owns the series outright, and the cast has just locked in new deals for lower pay to prevent any negotiations for bigger payouts. Thus, the network wouldn't have many issues cutting the show shorter than expected, as the producers appeared to have anticipated a possible cancellation following season 6.
Station 19's cancellation wasn't just a decision made by the network but the studios as well, with costs becoming higher for productions, among other issues. Since the series didn't do as well marketed outside the U.S., the rising costs of production (especially following the strikes) didn't warrant continuing it for both the studio and ABC.
Toss in how linear ratings are declining, and it's no surprise network shows that go longer than seven seasons are turning into an endangered species. So, while it's easy to blame 911 for Station 19 being canceled, it's possible the writing was already on the wall to shut down this spin-off as another victim of the changing landscape of broadcast television.
Station 19 season 7 premieres Thursday March 14 at 10/9c on ABC.