‘Terra Nova’ Extinct

Fox buries pricey dinosaur drama

Terra Nova is as dead as the Diplodocus.

Fox has decided not to renew the pricey Steven Spielberg-produced dino drama after an unspectacular 11-episode run. Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Terra Nova averaged 7.49 million viewers and drew a 2.5 in the 18-to-49 demo.

While Terra Nova’s ratings would have made it a hit for NBC or ABC, the numbers weren’t high enough to defray the price of its ambitions. The two-hour pilot cost upward of $16 million to produce, and while much of the investment went toward creating special effects and sets that would be revisited throughout the life of the series, viewer response didn’t justify a second season.

Well-received by media buyers, the show commanded some of the highest rates for a freshman drama series. During last spring’s upfront bazaar, clients paid around $165,000 for a 30-second spot in the show, a price topped only by CBS’ Person of Interest ($175,000).

Terra Nova premiered on Monday, Sept. 26, drawing a promising 9.22 million viewers and a 3.1 in the demo. High viewership among the 18-to-49 set made it one of the most sampled drama premieres of the 2011-12 season, putting it in league with Fox’s own Alcatraz (3.3), ABC’s Revenge (3.3) and Person of Interest (3.1).

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. The Dec. 19 finale delivered 7.24 million viewers and a 2.2 in the demo. (Alcatraz has experienced an even more vertiginous decline, falling from 10.1 million viewers and a 3.3 rating on Jan. 16 to 5.97 million viewers and a 1.9 in the demo on March 5.)

Fox appears to have one new hit drama on its hands in the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle Touch. A special sneak preview of the series bowed Jan. 25 to 12 million total viewers and a 3.9 rating, making it one of the strongest debuts of the season. (ABC’s Once Upon a Time premiered to 12.9 million viewers and a 4.0 rating on Oct. 23.)

Touch will assume the Monday 9 p.m. time slot on March 19.

While 20th Century Fox Television is expected to shop Terra Nova to a U.S. cable network, no formal pitches have been assembled.

Terra Nova is only the latest in a series of high-profile new projects that have been canceled, a roster that includes Charlie’s Angels, Pan Am, The Playboy Club and Prime Suspect. When officially canceled comedies like Man Up! and Work It are lumped in with no-hopers like Napoleon Dynamite, The Firm and A Gifted Man, the tally of new series that won’t be back next fall now stands at 22.