"In an Instant," the only network series to shoot almost entirely in Minnesota, will not be returning next summer.
ABC informed Eden Prairie-based Committee Films earlier this week that it would not be renewing its docudrama program for season four because of low ratings.
The show, which largely consisted of re-creating survival scenes in the wake of natural and man-made disasters, saw a 21 percent erosion in total viewers this summer with an average of 2.6 million viewers.
But even if the network had signed off on another round of episodes, Committee may have been forced to set up shop elsewhere due to a significant reduction in rebate money from the state. When "Instant" launched three years ago under the network's "20/20" brand, there was $10 million in taxpayer-funded rebates available over a two-year period. For the next two-year term, which started this summer, the legislature has only approved $1 million.
"As the show was being evaluated for renewal, we did discuss the challenges with this year's reduced Snowbate allowance with the network and indicated we would have to move the production to a state with more rebates available if we were granted a fourth season to make it financially feasible," said Maria Awes, senior vice president for Committee Films. "The reduction in Snowbate has a undeniable affect on our ability and the ability of other production companies to make TV here."
"Instant" may not have been one of Minnesota's sexiest projects, but it was one of the most reliable, with its team spending nearly $9 million in state during its three-year run.
"Committee Films has been an important part of this community for a long time and has made a tremendous difference in the economy of this state," said Melodie Bahan, executive director for the Minnesota Film and TV Board. "They have employed hundreds of crew members and actors and the loss of that work is devastating for us."
Committee hopes to continue to produce Minnesota-based TV and has projects in the works for MSNBC, History, Travel and HGTV. Two episodes of "Instant" have yet to air; no dates have been announced.