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August 17, 2022

The Real Reason CBS Canceled Magnum P.I.

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CBS officially decided to cancel “Magnum PI” in May 2022 (via The Hollywood Reporter). The announcement came just a little less than a week after the show’s fourth season finale aired, and was taken as a huge surprise not only by fans of the series, but also by many TV insiders and critics. Although “Magnum PI” was never a critically acclaimed series — its first season only has a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — she was always a reliable cast member for CBS (via TV Series Finale).

However, it turns out that the show’s performance wasn’t strong enough to justify CBS’ continued investment in it. In July, IndieWire reported that CBS ultimately decided to cancel Magnum PI because it did not have sole ownership of the series. Instead, Magnum PI was a CBS and Universal Television co-production from the start. In fact, Universal Television owns the “Magnum PI” property, meaning CBS would still have had to pay a non-negligible royalty to continue the reboot.

In a May 2022 interview with TVLine, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl acknowledged that the show’s licensing fee played a major role in the network’s eventual decision to cancel it. “You have some tough decisions to make and you have a lot of factors – and I’m not going to govern [the licensing fee] out as one of them,” said Kahl.

In other words, the cancellation of “Magnum PI” had nothing to do with the quality of the show itself. While this may make the cancellation even more frustrating for fans, viewers of the series can at least have peace of mind knowing that despite CBS’ controversial decision, season four won’t be the last.



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