Hank Azaria must be having a tough week. Not only do ongoing pay disputes threaten the cancellation (or at the very least will leave him with a significant salary reduction) of The Simpsons, which Azaria has been a cast member of since the show’s inception, but Azaria’s new NBC sitcom, Free Agents, has been canceled by NBC because of low ratings.
This came after Azaria himself launched a Twitter campaign to raise the ratings. He begin by sending out various tweets on Wednesday saying “Okay, it’s do or die time for my show Free Agents — we need eyeballs tonight at 8:30 on NBC!! Watch tonight or we may go away,” “Well, help save the show!! It’s smart and funny and on NBC Wednesdays at 8:30!! Free Agents, that is,” “Hey kids, please watch Free Agents this Wednesday at 8:30. I fear it may be your last chance!!,” and finally “Watch Free Agents tonight!! Be part of TV history by saving this funny smart show! Then if you like it call Universal PR at 818 777 3030…”
By the show’s third episode, which aired on September 28, Free Agents had declined to just over three million viewers — certainly in the major network cancellation zone. Azaria seems extra nervous since NBC had already cancelled The Playboy Club also because of low ratings earlier this week. Yet this ends up as yet another example of how sending desperate tweets don’t have much of an effect on a show’s ratings. Azaria has just under 80,000 followers on Twitter, and I’d imagine if you’re enough of an Azaria fan to actually follow him on Twitter you’ve already been watching his show. Even if all of his 80,000 followers haven’t been watching and all tuned in this week that doesn’t seem like enough of a bump in the ratings to save the show. But Azaria’s pleas didn’t seem to have any effect — ratings for the October 5 episode were roughly equal to the previous week’s rating, so Azaria’s campaign had no net effect on viewership.
At least Azaria thanked his followers on Thursday for trying, posting “Thanks to NBC for giving us a shot, thanks to all who watched Free Agents, and thanks to all who worked on the show- we had so much fun!!”
Can’t fault the man for trying to keep the show alive. Stranger things have happened in the television industry…