American TV networks can be brutal. Programmes which seem to be popular or growing in popularity suddenly disappear, sometimes in mid-season. Now the same fate has befallen Nashville, the country music TV drama.
The programme was well received in the US when it first aired and I think one of it’s great strengths was that the cast included real musicians and the songs where written by real songwriters. The fact that T Bone Burnett, artist, songwriter, producer, oversaw the music in the first series set the tone (though he later left the show).
The programme resulted in a number of albums and it has to be said that these would stand on their own quality, and not just because they came out of a hit TV programme.
So why has the programme been axed?
Produced in the US by ABC in the UK it aired on More4. The debut episode attracted around 0.8m, by the season end this had dropped to about 0.6m and the second series opener attracted 0.5m. So not a huge ratings winner when compared to dramas on the mainstream channels this is quite low, but for a channel like More4 it was a decent performance. The show had also suffered a slide in viewing figures in the US, particularly among the key 18-49 demographic; this is the audience which networks believe they need to attract to win the big advertisers.
I think Nashville has been the best programme based on the music industry, certainly better than Vinyl, though there hasn’t been that much competition.
So the guitars are being packed away and the amps switched off for the last time, just as some of the cast are set to tour the UK. I suspect the main spin off from this show may be a genuine music career for some of the performers.