The first official statement from TCM regarding why the decision was made came today on Facebook. In response to a viewer's query regarding the discontinuation, TCM's social media team responded:
"We've heard from a lot of classic film fans and they've asked that we offer more local events throughout the year. To honor that request, we're shifting our time and energy to those events. We hope you can attend some of those!"
So, I'm guessing that this decision was made on the basis of surveys conducted of TCM Inner Circle and TCM Backlot members. It sounds like we can expect to hear more details on what types of events might be coming down the pike sometime in 2017. I've heard some scuttlebutt that TCM is looking into the possibility of doing a film festival on the east coast sometime in the next couple of years, so we'll see what happens.