ViacomCBS Shuts Down 3 Pop TV Series

Pop TV's Florida Girls-Publicity-H 2019
Pop TV

ViacomCBS is cutting three scripted series from the lineup of its cable network Pop TV. Previously ordered seasons of Florida Girls, Flack and Best Intentions will not air on the niche network as the parent company makes a move toward more ownership of its programming.

The moves leave Schitt's Creek, which will air its series finale on April 7, and the revived One Day at a Time as the only originals on Pop. The respective studios behind the other shows — Lionsgate for Florida Girls, CASM Films and Hat Trick Productions for Flack and A+E Studios for Best Intentions — are free to take the shows to other outlets.

Flack was set to premiere its second season on March 13 but now won't air as planned. Season two of Florida Girls and season one of Best Intentions, created by American Pie writer Adam Herz, weren't yet scheduled.

Pop's pilot Mother Mary, from in-house CBS Television Studios, is still in play. The project, a contemporary take on the biblical story of Mary, counts Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator and star Rachel Bloom as an executive producer; she's also set to play the mother of the Antichrist in the pilot. 

"We are extremely disappointed in Pop’s decision to not move forward with Best Intentions," A+E Studios said Wednesday in a statement. "We have complete confidence in our creative team and are actively shopping the series to other outlets." Lionsgate — which formerly had an ownership stake in Pop when it was the TV Guide Network — had no comment on Florida Girls.

The decision to shut down the three shows comes just a few days after a round of layoffs at the niche cable network spurred by the ongoing consolidation at ViacomCBS. Pop had been part of Showtime Networks before the merger but was moved under Chris McCarthy's Entertainment & Youth Group, which also includes Comedy Central, Paramount Network, MTV, VH1, TV Land, Logo, CMT and Smithsonian Channel.

Pop TV has grown Schitt's Creek into a cult favorite over its six seasons; the current season is averaging more than 1 million viewers across all platforms. The cabler also made a splash by rescuing critical favorite One Day at a Time after Netflix canceled it in 2019. It, too, comes from an outside studio (Sony), but will move ahead as scheduled with its March 24 debut. Reruns of season four are also set to air on CBS in the summer.

ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish signaled the move to more owned IP in the company's earnings call on Feb. 20: "Our content strategy isn’t about spending more," he said. "It’s about better aligning the combined company spending with growth potential and maximizing the value of our content, IP and franchises across our now larger asset base."

McCarthy, a rising star at ViacomCBS, added Pop TV in January as the little-watched network that houses syndicated repeats of favorites like ER and Dawson's Creek was moved from the Showtime Networks group to the Entertainment & Youth Studios unit. Keith Cox, another rising star who worked his way up from the No. 2 spot at TV Land to now serve as president of Entertainment & Youth Studios, added Pop to his portfolio in January.

Pop is in about 70 million homes, a footprint that's smaller than more established cable networks like AMC, FX or USA, but in the same range as channels like Sundance and Oxygen. The network landed its first-ever Emmy nominations in 2019 with four for Schitt's Creek, including one for best comedy series. It rebranded from the TV Guide Channel in 2015; CBS bought out Lionsgate's 50 percent stake in early 2019.

Variety first reported the news.