And then after spending that money, they do stuff that everyone in the world of TV knows will kill a show's ratings. They'll show episodes out of order, plus move the air times and dates all over the place so fans have trouble finding the show week to week. That kind of activity with the schedule is known to kill shows - it's what the BBC did to get rid of Dr Who back in the 1980s.
Why work against yourself like that? Surely if you've spent the money to get the show you might as well give it as good a chance of success as you can. If you don't want that type of show, either don't fund it to start with or just cancel it outright without the pussy-footing around.
One possible explanation is that the networks are full of back-stabbing bastards all pushing for resources for THEIR pet project. "I hate Wondershow (with the very-slow-growing mid-size fanbase of devoted fans), so if it gets canceled, I can get the green light on Crap-o-rama!"
And also I read that some TV exec are now believe that being so quick to cancel shows is now hampering them as the audiences are becoming less willing to invest interest in show that may soon be canceled. (DUH!!!)
Plus I wouldnt be surprised if statistics show that when a series gets "timed out" for one of teh sports seasons or events occupying its place in the lineup, a significant chunk of viewership just dries up. I know I had a tendency to sometmes stop bothering to follow a show when that happened. Especially if it is a continuing story where you need to see the previous episode to understand what was going on or what happened, and they don't show the missed episode until the season is over and the reruns start.
A new trend has been people waiting and streaming series after the fact.
The most tragic thing is a show that starts well, then once the execs realized it was a good thing, if they didn't run the blessed thing into the ground, then I was surprised.
The problem for hit shows and film series, is that execs are still averting risk, so instead of moving forward, or letting the show/series evolve, they just want more of the same.
More explosions, if the original had those. More lasers. More, more, more. Not better or more innovation, which probably was the key to making the original in a hit series popular.
(Adapted from a thread on the CaerAzkaban Yahoo group)