ABC Yanks the Cord on Mind Games

Tuesday 10 p.m. is becoming yet another trouble spot for network

ABC has pulled the plug on the Christian Slater drama Mind Games after just five episodes.

The third new ABC series to fail to catch on in the Tuesday 10 p.m. slot—it was preceded by the short-lived Lucky 7 and Killer Women—Mind Games averaged a meager 2.63 million viewers and a 0.8 in the adults 18-49 demo.

Lucky 7 did marginally better in its two-episode run, drawing 3.53 million viewers and a 1.0 in the demo, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. The limited series Killer Women aired six times in January and February, delivering just 3.41 million viewers and a 0.7 in the dollar demo.

What’s particularly chilling about the failure of the three Tuesday night shows is that it creates yet another dead zone on ABC’s prime-time roster. The Sunday 10 p.m. slot has been a no-man’s-land since the 2011-12 campaign when ABC launched Pan Am (1.7) and GCB (1.9), only to follow up the next season with 666 Park Avenue (1.2) and Red Widow (1.0). This year, the slot has played host to the now-canceled Betrayal (0.9) and the struggling third-season strip, Revenge. After moving to 10 p.m. to accommodate newcomer Resurrection, Revenge is averaging a 1.7 in the demo.

ABC also has a haunted time slot on Thursday nights at 8 p.m., which plays host to the fantasy spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Through its first 12 installments, Wonderland is averaging a 1.0 rating, and while the network hasn’t made an official announcement, ABC is promoting next week’s episode as the series finale.

Wonderland’s time slot has been plagued by failure since Ugly Betty called it quits after the 2008-09 broadcast season. The series that have occupied the anchor slot can be subdivided into noble failures (FlashForward, Last Resort), stinkers (The Deep End, Charlie’s Angels) and forgettable flops (Missing, My Generation, Zero Hour).

To date, ABC has canceled seven new series, including the aforementioned five as well as the drama The Assets (0.7) and the comedy Back in the Game, which averaged a relatively robust 1.8 rating in the Wednesday 8:30 p.m. slot.

Of the 13 new series ABC has launched since the season began, only Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2.6), The Goldbergs (1.7) and the new Sunday night hit Resurrection (3.2 through three episodes) are likely to be renewed for 2014-15.

Through the first 26 weeks of the season, ABC is ranked last among the Big Four, averaging a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo, down 9 percent from the year-ago 2.3 rating. This marks the third season under entertainment president Paul Lee in which ABC will fail to pull itself out of fourth place. 

(Always a tough row to hoe, the ratings race is particularly wearing on ABC, which is the only major broadcast network without an NFL contract.)

On the eve of the upfront season, Lee is said to be finalizing a new four-year contract with ABC/Disney. His current agreement expires at the end of June.