Designated Survivor: ABC President On “Hard” Cancellation Decision, “Creative Path Forward” Concerns

One of ABCs highest-profile cancellations this season was drama Designated Survivor starring Kiefer Sutherland, which was not picked up for a third season, with tomorrows Season 2 finale serving as the series finale — at least on the broadcast network as co-producer eOne is currently shopping the series.

“That was a hard one for us,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said about the cancellation decision during ABCs upfront press call on Tuesday. “It did well in delayed viewing but its Live+same day delivery in the 10 PM hour had become challenging.”

There was another issue.

“Creatively, the show had a lot of behind-the-scenes churn in terms of the number of showrunners,” Dungey said. “We were less confident about the creative path forward than the other shows we brought back.”

Designated Survivor went through four showrunners for its two seasons on the air, and had a deal a place with a fifth to run the show in Season 3.

The political conspiracy drama began its run as one of ABCs most promising. The network screened the entire opening act at its 2016 upfront presentation where Sutherland received a huge ovation. In its first months on the air, Designated Survivor drew large audiences, setting DVR lift records and snagging the Critics Choice award for most exciting new series in its first season.

The series saw ratings declines in Season 2 but continued to be helped by strong delayed increases. Its season-to-date adults 18-49 rating (most current) is 1.6 in adults 18-49, same as CBS Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: New Orleans, which were renewed.

In addition to Sutherland, the series also starred Natasha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Tanner Buchanan, Kal Penn, and Maggie Q.

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