The decision to end Fox’s hit medical drama House after eight seasons couldn’t have been an easy move for the network, the studio, or the showrunners, but it seemed like there was no solid way to continue the show to run into its ninth season. Within the last couple of days, more details have emerged on the real story about the cancellation of House.
Now, details have come to light that House showrunner David Shore and star Hugh Laurie would have signed up for one for year to keep the show going, and would have even made consolidations to the shows bottom line to make up for the escalating fees that make the show so expensive to make. Currently, Hugh Laurie is one of the highest paid actors on television, earning $700,000 per episode. Apparently, Laurie was willing to take a pay cut to keep production of the show running.
It’s not surprise that Fox would have done anything to keep the show running at least one more season. The show still averages 8-9 million viewers a week, and still delivers decent ratings in the 18-49 demo, even for a show that’s in its eighth season. Universal TV, the studio who produces House, was also eager to keep production of the show running since House is a major player in syndication, making the studio millions of dollars from distributing the show its domestically and worldwide.
What happened then?
It all comes down to money. Fox currently pays Universal TV $5 million per episode of House. Even though distributing the show out in syndication adds millions of dollars to NBC’s bottom line, the studio still wanted to see a reduction in licensing fees, as well as a full season of 22-episodes in production for another season. Fox would only commit to a 13 episode final season.
Another key reason that House will be ending early, the lengthy negotiations to put the new deal together. Last year, contract negotiations went down to the last-minute, putting together a deal right before the May Upfronts. Deals could have been made up until May for a ninth season, but in the worse case scenario of the network and studio not coming to an agreement, the show wouldn’t have enough time to produce a proper series finale, something that the viewers deserve after eight seasons. Since the decision was made early to end the show, there will be a proper sendoff for House in May.
The idea of House moving to NBC has been discussed, but Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly stated “picking up the show and moving it to another network, at the cost structure in this situation, would be a shrewd business move.” NBC Entertainment Chairmen Bob Greenblatt has already stated that he will not pursue House to move from NBC from Fox.
Fox had more incentive to let House go this season and not try to fight for a last-minute renewal because of the new dramas that premiered this season. Alcatraz, The Finder, Terra Nova, and the Touch – which got a preview in January, and starts its regular run in March – have all done modestly well in the ratings. Even though House is Fox’s highest-rated scripted drama, the network has the staying power in these four dramas where they will be able to maintain competition from other shows, as well as be good lead-ins to new dramas.
“House has produced 177 episodes since 2004, which is about 175 more than anyone expected” said Shore and Laurie in a statement about the show’s cancellation. Even though the show wasn’t a hit right of the gate, House has given Fox many highly rated seasons.
Are you upset to see House go? And would you risk a ninth season over a proper series finale? The smart move was to get out while the show is still close to the top, and it’s great to see a long-running show not over stay its welcome.
The series finale of House airs Monday, May 21st at 8p.m. on Fox.