In a television market as volatile as that in the US, it can be tough being a viewer.
With broadcast networks at the will of advertisers looking to spend their money on the shows that get the biggest audiences, series that debut to low ratings and fall further over the next few weeks can find themselves on the television scrapheap before anyone has a chance to remember the characters’ names.
That’s why it’s great news that an increasing number of network dramas are getting early renewals.
Fox has ordered second seasons of new dramas Gotham, the origin story of Batman character Commissioner Gordon, and music drama Empire.
At CBS, the Eye has placed season two orders for NCIS: New Orleans, Madam Secretary, and Scorpion.
Over at The CW, meanwhile, their entire fall drama slate has been renewed for 2015/16, meaning new seasons for Arrow, Reign, Supernatural, The 100, The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Jane the Virgin, and The Flash.
Fans of these shows can now watch them without fear of them suddenly disappearing from next week’s schedules, and in the knowledge that they will be back next year, increasing their investment in and loyalty to a series.
This also means people who may not have caught the show from the beginning are now more likely to catch up on a show they know will be sticking around, instead of passing it by without a second glance.
For writers and producers, early renewals also mean they can begin plotting series-long story arcs they know will be completed, and take more time to craft their scripts so viewers get the best shows possible.
The danger of an early cancellation will always remain – that’s the business – but at least viewers can now know their commitment at this early stage will not be wasted three or four episodes down the line.