ABC president: If The Mole 3’s ratings don’t improve, it won’t be renewed

The Mole will be cancelled after this season unless its sliding ratings improve, according to ABC’s president. I asked ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson about the show’s future (ironically at a Dancing with the Stars-themed party, as the show’s professional dancers taught TV critics how to dance) and he noted that no decision has been made yet, praised the show, and even praised the producers’ efforts to save it.

“We don’t have any plans; we haven’t made a decision one way or the other. But it’s such a well-produced show, it’s a shame. I’m a little bit befuddled to know why it didn’t perform better,” McPherson said.

I asked if that could be due to the timeslot and pairing it with The Bachelorette, which has an entirely different audience, and he said, “You know, it had a good launch, a lot of media gets it. I think, again, I think we probably over-estimated the return value of it, and it needed to be sold as a new show, more in the marketing, but that’s hindsight, so who knows.”

Is the show dead if the ratings don’t improve? “I think so, yeah,” McPherson told me. Ratings didn’t improve Monday, the show’s first new episode in two weeks; only 3.62 million viewers watched.

Earlier Wednesday, he told critics that he doesn’t fault the production, and blames marketing decisions for its relatively low ratings:

“You know what? I think — it’s certainly not the fault of the production. It’s an incredibly well-produced show. I think they did a fabulous job. I think, if anything, I look at the marketing. Maybe we made a misstep there and should have focused a little bit more as just selling it as a completely new show. I think we overestimated the kind of return value of it. So I think there were a number of people I know who were new viewers who couldn’t get into it because it wasn’t kind of, to the question before, reset in marketing enough. It’s hard to know. I love the passion of the producers. I love them starting the website. Those are the kind of people you want to be in business with.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.