9 Questions (and Answers) About ‘Dallas’s’ Future

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Give it to us straight, Uncle Bobby

“Dallas” fans have questions about the show’s future. Dallas Decoder has answers.

1. “Dallas’s” third season has reached its midpoint. How’s the show doing?

Creatively, “Dallas” has never been better. The performances are top-notch, the writing is strong and the pacing has slowed down. The show no longer moves at the speed at light, making it easier for the audience to keep up with the stories.

Unfortunately, fewer people are watching “Dallas” this year. The series is averaging 1.9 million viewers on Mondays at 9 p.m., down from the 2.7 million who watched on Monday nights last year. However, when you count DVR users who record the episodes and watch them within three days of their debut, “Dallas’s” audience grows to 2.8 million viewers.

Last year, “Dallas” averaged 3.5 million viewers with three-day DVR playback added in. But don’t overlook this fact: Even though “Dallas’s” audience is down overall, the show is adding roughly 800,000 viewers through DVR usage each week — essentially the same number it added each week last year. In other words: DVR users are true-blue “Dallas” loyalists.

Watch what happens

Watch them Ewings

2. OK, so the DVR numbers are encouraging. Do they really matter?

Yes, they matter. Remember: Television is a business, and the purpose of ratings is to let advertisers know how many people see their commercials.

Studies show DVR users don’t skip every ad, and so TV networks now sell commercial time based on several factors, including: 1) the number of people who watch shows when they air, and 2) the number of people who record shows and watch them a few days later.

3. How does “Dallas’s” ratings compare to other shows?

It depends on which shows you’re referring to. The most popular show on broadcast television last week was CBS’s “NCIS,” which grabbed 17.1 million viewers; on cable, the top show was HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which snagged 6.6 million viewers.

It’s probably fairer to compare “Dallas” to the other shows in TNT’s lineup. Since the beginning of the year, the cable channel has shown four original dramas: “Major Crimes,” which averages 7.4 million viewers, including the people it picks up through DVR playback; “Rizzoli & Isles” (5.6 million); “Perception” (3.3 million); and “Dallas” (2.8 million).

4. Are ratings the only numbers that matter?

No. Ratings are important, but other factors contribute to a show’s bottom line. For example, studios can also make money by selling their shows overseas, and the 36-year-old “Dallas” brand retains a lot of international appeal.

Additionally, there’s money to be made from DVD sales and licensing products based on a show — hello, J.R. Ewing Bourbon! — and it’s worth pointing out that Dallas the city gives “Dallas” the TV show tax breaks to film there.

Does any of this make the show a financial success? Who knows? TV networks rarely discuss a show’s finances (or its ratings or the network’s programming deliberations) publicly. Nevertheless, “Dallas’s” other potential revenue streams could be part of the calculus that goes into deciding the show’s future.

5. TNT pulled “Dallas” off its schedule after last week’s episode. Isn’t that cause for concern?

Nope. “Dallas’s” third season will consist of 15 episodes; TNT always planned to divide the season into halves — eight episodes in the winter and spring and seven episodes in the summer. TNT does this with its other shows, and so do other cable channels; AMC routinely splits “The Walking Dead’s” seasons, for example.

Dallas, Emma Bell, Emma Ryland, TNT

Summer lovin’

6. But TNT won’t start showing the second half of “Dallas’s” third season until August 18! What’s up with that?

Yeah, that news was kind of unexpected. Fans like me were hoping “Dallas” would return in June or July and regain some of the glory from its first season during the summer of 2012, when the show averaged 4.2 million viewers on Wednesday nights.

By holding the show’s return until mid-August, it might be harder for “Dallas” to stand out. If TNT runs one episode a week for seven weeks beginning August 18, “Dallas” will spill over into the fall TV season, when the competition is much tougher.

On the other hand, if “Dallas” shows its third-season finale in September and begins televising Season 4 in January or February 2015, that’ll amount to a four- or five-month hiatus — which is a lot better than the 10-month wait we had to endure between the second and third seasons.

7. What’s the deadline for TNT to decide if it wants to renew “Dallas” for a fourth season?

This isn’t clear. TNT announced “Dallas’s” third-season renewal on April 30, 2013, about two weeks after the second-season finale. The show traditionally begins production on each new season in September or October and wraps up filming six months later, and so if TNT wants to stick to a fall-to-spring production schedule, it probably needs to decide whether to renew “Dallas” soon so scripts can be written, sets can be built, costumes can be created, et cetera.

One date to watch: Wednesday, May 14. This is when TNT and sister channel TBS will hold their “upfronts,” the annual presentations where they pitch next season’s shows to advertisers. If TNT decides to renew “Dallas,” this could be a good place to announce it.

8. So will TNT renew the show?

Golly, I hope so. But I’m hardly an unbiased observer, so I took this question to one of the smartest guys I know: Marc Berman, editor in chief of TV Media Insights, a top industry news site. Berman is a “Dallas” fan too, but he promised to give us his honest viewpoint.

His prediction: Yes, TNT will give “Dallas” a fourth season. The fact that the show adds almost 1 million viewers through DVR playback is a plus, and so is “Dallas’s” status as a recognizable commodity in an increasingly cluttered media environment, Berman said.

9. OK, you seem to have a lot of answers, Dallas Decoder. So what’s going to happen to Pamela after her overdose in the midseason cliffhanger?

Beats the heck out of me, but I can’t wait to find out.

What did I miss? Share your questions about the future of TNT’s “Dallas” below and read more news from Dallas Decoder. 

Comments

  1. Very good points. I wonder how many people were disappoinyed/turned off by the finale and will decide not to watch when it returns. I am not sure I will. I
    don’t find the writing strong. It seems the writers have amnesia and forgot the past two seasons. Characters are behaving inconsistent with who they have been (Ann all of a sudden cozying up to Harris and Elena going against the Ewings). If it does return for a 4th season I hope it returns to what we had in season 1 like you said.

    • Dan in WI says:

      Continuity hawks like myself haven’t been happy with the character changes from CBS. (Cliff) It is not a good sign when TNT now can’t even keep it’s own 33 episode continuity straight. We are seeing too many characters make too many character personality/philosophy shifts for this short period of time. Look how long it took CBS to turn April from heel to face. It was done gradually and organically.

  2. Truly outstanding article, Chris.
    I think with the mid-season hiatus, this is what most people are wondering about. The funny thing is, you might wonder if the show will lose a few viewers due to the famous 3some scene, but you also must wonder how many it will pick up. Love the article and appreciate you getting the opinion of an insider.

    • Dan in WI says:

      Well we’ve obviously see a steady decline (peaks and valleys aside) in viewership all 2.5 seasons so far. So the question is who are we losing? Old time continuity hawks like myself or casual fans who check in and check out?
      I truly believe the 3 some will chase off a few old time fans. In my younger days it would have driven me off. Now I’m a bit older and I realize that while the TNT show is far from perfect it is all we have. When it goes away we are done and that will be the last we ever hear from Bobby and Sue Ellen. Period. So while I’m not as gung-ho as I was during season one I’m not ready to abondon this either. I realize I’m damning the show with faint praise here but that is how I feel at this point. When the time comes I’ll DVR in but I won’t be counting down the days this time to the next half season.
      So the last question is will Dallas keep any viewers lured in by the 3 some? IMHO no. One can go to a lot of places to get that kind of thing. So while there are surely some people out there who heard “Dallas” and “three some” who tuned in for curiosities sake I don’t see them staying. These curiousity viewers aren’t the type of people who ever stick around long term. If you have nothing emotionally invested in those characters why would you come back? Those type of people heard the buzz, checked it out, may or may not have found it shocking enough and likely moved on.

      • huh? where do you see a “steady decline in viewership” this season? this show has gotten more viewers almost every week!?

      • Dan in WI says:

        I’m talking over all season to season averages.
        Season 1 had higher average ratings than season 2.
        Season 2 had higher average ratings than the just completed first half of season 3.
        Yes the ratings rebounded some in the last several episodes but not enough to keep the over all season three average from being in last place of the three seasons.

  3. Great article Chris.

    I think this is the very thing most people are wondering about, especially during the midseason hiatus.

    Appreciate that you obtained the opinion of an insider.

  4. What an amazing summation C.B. May I add a 10th point? DALLAS still has the J.R./Bobby conflict, albeit Nephew Vs. Uncle as opposed to Brother Vs. Brother. But remember, these 2 must team up to keep the Cliff Barnes threat neutralized & stop utter chaos against the Ewing family’s! That’s where the ratings will come back, in the confusion & chaos of the schemes & counter schemes as well as plots & counter plots against 1 another!

  5. Thanks for putting all this info together. Very informative! Two things I remember to be relevant for the run of the original show: The actors’ salaries may be a factor. Soaps tend to have a large cast and pricey stars may make a show costly. In this case I suppose only Gray and Duffy are the big money makers. I wouldn’t be surprised if their number of episodes will be limited in seasons to come. Another point of consideration: Scripted shows recuperate a lot of their expenses in syndication. Syndication is usually an option after 100+ episodes are reached. Not sure how that calculation works with cable shows that get to 70 episodes only at the most. Also: Serialized soaps are usually not doing well in syndication. Not sure this is a factor here.
    I just hope it gets picked up for a fourth season. To me it feels like Dallas is finally finding its creative core. And it is my impression from online forums that people seem to notice that. Hopefully it translates into organic growth of loyal viewership, so Dallas doesn’t need to rely on on stunt casting of original cast members and shock events.

  6. I have to say that Bobby has turned into a real hard ass with Anne. Does he tell her everything? What will she say when she finds out they framed Cliff? The other night I’d of slapped him for talking to me like that. Who the hell does he think he is?

    • stephenwphillips says:

      Oh, that’s just Bobby 2.0 (or maybe Bobby 2.1… depending if you count Bobby after the shower as a different version)… the new one is always PISSED! 🙂

  7. Dallas is up against some formidable shows on the Networks on Monday nights. I too was hoping they would be on earlier in the summer. TNT other shows tend to go up against reruns on the networks during summertime and
    fair better as a result. I am sure that TNT takes that into consideration.

    In addition, Dallas has a huge international audience and Dallas TNT has been selling overseas. That is a big deal for shows . In fact, out of all TNTs shows, Dallas has been distributed to more countries than any other. Plus, they also have international viewers watching it online.

    As far as the 3some, it generated buzz which gets attention. With all of the excessive competition out there…. A show getting buzz is a good thing. The 2nd viewing had good lift over the prior week. People were going nuts that whole night on Twitter. It was fun to watch/ read the reactions real time.

  8. I would be 100% shocked if Dallas does not return for a 4th season. If it is up to me, I would have Dallas run for a full season from September until May with at least 20 episodes. The Dallas cast is the best. They really are top notch actors and actresses.

    Dallas fans are the coolest people!

  9. Brandon Childers says:

    Is the second showing of Dallas counted in the ratings

  10. Brandon Childers says:

    Whose stupid idea was it to put Dallas up against The Voice and Dancing with the Stars, and Not to mention favorites like The Following and Bates Motel. the Voice and ABC shows dominate Monday night television, even enough to get CSI Miami cancelled, a network show, why put a cable show up against them.

    Also how is it doing compare to that wives of Nashville show they have on now

    • the Nashville show has had a very hard time in the ratings. The 2nd viewing of Dallas does better than Nashville wives does.

      BTW…the Voice on Mondays is #1 in the 18-49 age group. So, yes..very stiff competition.

      And, no they do not add the 2 hours of Dallas together to figure the rating.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe if Dallas continues to beat out the shows like Monday Mornings and Private lives of Nashville wives, it will say on the air. That could be what TNT is doing, once one of these shows “on after Dallas” has higher ratings than Dallas I think we will have something to worry about

  11. Ross Mosschito says:

    “Creatively, “Dallas” has never been better. The performances are top-notch, the writing is strong and the pacing has slowed down.”

    My knee jerk to that calls to mind an oft-scripted line to reflect incredulity: “Are you insane?!??”

    The plots are recycled tosh. Metcalfe couldn’t land the lead in a high school play on talent – even more apparent in scenes shared with the talented AnnaLynne McCord . The age-old soap opera axiom has been invoked, “When all of the characters have slept with each other, it’s time to call it a day…”

    The first season was brilliant – possibly the best reincarnation of a TV series in history – a blueprint to which all others can aspire.

    But then sadly, Larry Hagman finally lost his long battle with his health. The producers very publicly failed to offer anything compelling enough to entice Victoria Principal to return, and the writing fell off the cliff.

    Sue Ellen reverting to the out-of-control drunk was a horrible choice. Sending her back to an institution was even worse (if such a thing exists). Pity poor Gray’s comments around the revival of her character, specifically relating to how she disliked the “alcoholic to the point of incapacity” arch in the original series, how she was enjoying the newly restored, empowered Sue Ellen of season 1.

    The rest – Elena Ramos from “virginal good guy” to “unwitting bad guy,” the death (murder) of the twins, the marriage of Barnes and Ewing (but not THAT Ewing), the preposterous, not-so-thinly-veiled Bill Clinton scheme (“let’s get DNA on the dress!”), and the “he cheats on his wife but really loves her” claptrap culminating with “Now kiss your wife with those lips” (setting a new low for cheap vulgarity on a network that blips out cuss words) are just a few of the incompetently conceived archs.

    Perhaps because I’m apparently genetically incapable of quitting a series once I invest in watching it, or perhaps the allure of seeing Dallas icons Duffy and Gray revive their epochal characters once a week is too much, I’m still with this thing, appalling as it is. But barely…

    Wonder why the ratings are down? Look no further than the writer’s room folks.

    • Brandon Childers says:

      What cuss words do they blip out,

      • Ross Mosschito says:

        Fair point – had them confused with Lifetime.

        Your implication is correct – they do not blip cuss words.

        What I should have offered was that they will not show nudity.

        Not that I advocating for either – I was just contrasting that scene with what one might consider hypocritical standards. I just picked the wrong hypocritical standard. 🙂

      • Brandon Childers says:

        I was just wondering if they did it by region because in a Illinois we heard people on TV start saying bullshit and shit more. Thought maybe it was a state thing

    • I agree with everything you said.

  12. garnet mcgee says:

    I’m never sure what to think of these predictions. I’m trying to be optimistic despite my disappointment with the last two episodes. I also watch devious maids and wish that Dallas had been as good about adding viewers. I see that finally Julie and Juan Pablo are doing interviews with Latino press. I wish Cynthia cidre and Jordana would too. that potential fan base remains untapped. please change the Emma photo to one of Julie or Brenda. thank you for your hard work.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Dallas has bombed the world over, time to pull the plug. Its pretty awful and an insult to the original show. Cidre has no idea what she is doing

    • Ross Mosschito says:

      “Cidre has no idea what she is doing” – on that we can agree.

      Particularly stunning given how brilliant season 1 was…

  14. I would respectfully disagree that the writing is strong. I think the writing is pretty dreadful. We’re only in season three of this iteration of “Dallas” and they’re already recycling plotlines from “Dallas” original recipe: Sue Ellen drinking and Southfork burns. The Elena storyline is beyond stupid. The entire Ryland clan — especially the painfully miscast Judith Light (as Harris’; mother? Really?) — needs to be booted from the show. The once strong character of Pamela has been reduced to rubble. Need I go on? I really do want the show to succeed, but good grief, get some decent writers on the show. Writers who pay attention to the “Dallas” canon and stop rewriting history. For example, BarnesGlobal? No way that would exist given what long-time viewers know of “Dallas'” history. And with JR gone, please have a villain worthy of “Dallas.” Not that ridiculously campy Judith Ryland. Why not bring back Katherine Wentworth? She’d know how to stir the pot.

  15. TNT should definitely give Dallas a fourth season. Josh Henderson (John Ross) is going to be a big star.

  16. Alas, I think in the light of this week’s ratings the show will almost certainly be cancelled. Its cancellation has been hastened by some very poor creative decisions by producers and as a consequence of some generally lacklustre writing. The show’s survival would have been much more assured had there been a fundamental overhaul prior to Season 3 (where, ironically, some improvements have been made).

    I also, regretfully, feel obliged to say that I wish Dallas Decoder had been less sycophantic in some of its wildly optimistic reviews of episodes from earlier in the run – episodes that were transparently poor television. I remain perplexed that most of the B ratings from the original show easily eclipse most of what we saw on the TNT version that were routinely awarded A grades. I love this site, your optimism and your dedication to the show – but your failure to hold Cidre to account for some of this mess may well have colluded in the show’s demise.

    • William, thanks for your feedback.

      I’m glad you like Dallas Decoder and I hope you’ll keep reading — even if you think I’ve been too easy on the new show.

      CB

  17. Please please tell me y’all did not kill off Christopher!!!!!!?????? And season 4 better get here super quick!!!!!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” ratings are growing. Yes, we all know “Dallas’s” numbers dipped this year, but they’re bouncing back. Since March 17, when the show hit a series low of 1.78 […]

  2. […] on social media, with 1.6 million Facebook fans and 89,000 Twitter followers, but the show has struggled where it matters most: the ratings. “Dallas” is averaging 1.9 million viewers on Mondays this […]

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