Sunday, March 18, 2012

Luck Cancelled: Horses or Ratings

The producers of HBO's "Luck" with Dustin Hoffman have said the program was cancelled due to the fact that three of the horses used in the production died on the job.  (The show is about horse racing.)

From what I've heard over the course of the past few days about horse racing and life around horse tracks, the reason given was most likely a smoke screen to mask the real reason - ratings.

Luck debuted to drawing only 1.1 million viewers and that number ended up dropping to 500,000.  That's very little, even for cable.

Having spoken to one person who has worked at a race track and having read a number of articles now about the issue, it seems the death of horses is not an unusual occurrence in the racing world and around tracks.

According to the AP, two horses died in Britain's Grand National steeplechase meet last year, and four the year before. Last week, five horses died in the first two days of the UK's Cheltenham Festival steeplechase. Neither of those events were cancelled.

In the case of Luck, the producers were using older horses, which makes the threat to to their lives even more likely.

Further, Luck filmed for 10 months over the past two years, which means these deaths were spread out over that period.

Of course, no one ever wants to admit they failed, but in this case, those responsible for Luck, should have been at least a bit more honest and stated that their show tanked because no one was watching.

Luck ends its single season run on March 25th.


  1. Ratings don't matter as much to HBO, subscriptions do. They sell the whole channel not individual shows. They can afford to let it run for a second season to see if takes off. It's rare they axe a show after one season, the last one a can remember was oddly David Milch's John from Cincinnati.

  2. Two horses died in today's 2012 Grand National. All horse 'euthanasia' is unfortunate but I too was sceptical that Luck was cancelled due to only three horse deaths during filming. I really like the series and was looking forward to seeing what happened to the characters that, I felt, had been developed very well thanks to a strong script and great acting.