The real reason CBS canceled the Magnum PI

CBS officially decided to cancel “Magnum PI” in May 2022 (via Hollywood Reporter). The announcement comes just under a week after the series aired on its Season 4 finale and was taken as a big surprise not only by the show’s fans, but also by many TV insiders and critics. Indeed, despite the fact that Magnum P.I. has never been a critically acclaimed series – its first season only has a 57% rating on rotten tomatoes has always been a trusted performer for CBS (via TV series finale).

However, it turns out that the show wasn’t strong enough to justify CBS’ continued investment in it. In July, IndieWire reported that CBS ultimately decided to cancel Magnum P.I. because it did not have sole ownership of the series. Instead, Magnum PI was a joint product of CBS and Universal Television from the beginning. In fact, Universal Television owns the Magnum P.I. property, meaning that CBS would have to keep paying a substantial licensing fee to continue with the reboot.

In an interview in May 2022 TVLine, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl confirmed that the show’s licensing fee was instrumental in the network’s final decision to cancel it. “You have some tough decisions to make and you have a lot of factors – and I’m not going to rule [the licensing fee] came out as one of them,” Kal said.

In other words, the cancellation of Magnum PI had nothing to do with the quality of the show itself. While this may make its cancellation even more disappointing for its fans, viewers of the show can at least rest easy knowing that, despite CBS’s controversial decision, its fourth season won’t actually be its last.

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