Rebel will not be returning for a second season at ABC.
That much we’ve known for almost a week now.
Now, the network boss, Craig Erwich, is opening up about the cancellation.
“[Rebel creator] Krista Vernoff is brilliant,” Erwich began in a chat with The Hollywood Reporter.
“She’s a vital partner to us and part of the Disney family. She created something very special there,” he continued.
“Given the show and given our partnership with Krista, we gave it a really big launch.”
“We focused a lot of our efforts across the entire company in telling people about this show and unfortunately, the audience didn’t amass the way it needed to,” Erwich explained of the decision.
“We tried to give the decision and the show every benefit of the doubt, but ultimately we just couldn’t find a path forward.”
Indeed, Rebel got a solid launching pad out of Grey’s Anatomy, but the series lost around half of the lead-in in important demographics.
“It was a very carefully considered decision and one we tried to be methodical about,” he said.
“Part of the process was examining the behavior in terms of on-demand viewing and catch up. How is it performing days after its performance on multiplatform viewing? And there was just not a trend there toward continuing to build the audience.”
“Ultimately that’s what led to a very difficult decision.”
More than ever, networks are looking to how shows are performing as a whole, not only on linear TV.
Rebel was widely expected to snag a renewal because it was a show from Grey’s and Station 19 showrunner Krista Vernoff, something Vernoff pointed out in a since-deleted tweet.
“You give them three shows during a pandemic, they give you five episodes. Cool. Cool. Cool.”
Series star, Katey Sagal, was also unimpressed with the decision.
“To all the dear rebellious @rebelabc followers. I am so touched by your support for our show,” she wrote.
“As a cast and great crew and the amazingly talented @kristavernoff have just begun to gel and find our footing, the plug has been pulled, and I feel you and hear your disappointment. I wholeheartedly stand with you.”
Sagal shared that the “abrupt announcement that there would be no Season 2 based on the response from [five] airings came as a shock and a heartbreak.”
“Things take time to catch on. Rebel tells the story of a woman who speaks up for what is right, the show has heart and purpose, funny and tears, and we, the cast, are all scratching our heads at the reversal of support from ABC.”
“As Rebel would say, fight for what you want, make people listen, and in this case, if our show can find another, more suitable place to land, we will do the happy dance,” she continued.
“If not, we gave it our all and made our voices heard, which is the message behind Rebel! Always Speak Up!!”
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.