'Kings' dethroned

NBC pulls low-rated drama off Sunday nights

NBC is replacing its freshman drama "Kings" on Sunday nights, yanking the struggling allegorical series after four episodes.

"Kings" will be swapped out for another hour of the newsmagazine "Dateline," which will run for two hours starting at 7 p.m.

Sunday's "Kings" episode averaged 3.6 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic; "Dateline" scored a 1.5 demo rating during its half-hour leading into "Kings."

NBC hopes an expanded "Dateline" will provide a better lead-in for 9 p.m.'s "The Celebrity Apprentice," which has seen audience erosion in recent weeks that might be attributed to "Kings."

The remaining eight episodes of "Kings" will air Saturday nights at 8 p.m., starting April 18.

Passed on by former NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, the big-budget "Kings" become a passion project for NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman and former exec vp Teri Weinberg.

The show, which retells the story of King David in modern times, attracted Ian McShane as the lead and drew mostly critical praise as an inventive choice for the network.

But after originally making the launch of "Kings" a main priority for midseason and slotting the show in its high-profile 10 p.m. Thursday berth, the network moved the series to the less- trafficked 8 p.m. Sunday period, putting John Wells' new cop drama in "ER's" Thursday slot.

"Kings" has done well on digital platforms. As of Tuesday, the most recent episode was the most-downloaded TV show at the iTunes Music store. (partialdiff)