Early renewals can only boost ratings

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.

Gotham

Gotham

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.

Madam Secretary

Madam Secretary

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.

The Originals

The Originals

After thought: questions over Amazon’s pilot process

When it comes to cancelling a television series, in most cases the decision is based on the number of viewers – or lack of them.

For Amazon Studios drama The After, from The X-Files creator Chris Carter, viewing figures were never part of the problem as beyond the pilot, the show never made it to air on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The After

The After

The pilot was picked up to series last year after receiving positive feedback from viewers on the site. But this week it emerged that the show will not now be moving forward.

A statement from Amazon Studios said:

We have decided to not move forward with The After. We would like to thank Chris Carter, the phenomenal cast, crew and producers for all their efforts.

The lack of detail over why The After has been cancelled now raises questions over Amazon’s pilot process, seen as ground-breaking when it was first launched. If viewers have the power to choose (en masse) which shows get series orders, how can it then be cancelled without their input? If nobody had watched it, Amazon would have had the evidence to take that decision, but beforehand?

Of course, shows are cancelled before they reach the air all the time so there could be any number of reasons why The After will not now take off online. Creative differences, casting, production costs – the possibilities are endless. And yet, if this is a show that clearly had an audience keen to see more after the pilot, couldn’t there have been a deal to bring the show to air?

While The After is now just an after-thought for Amazon, viewers will wonder how much weight their opinions on the VoD platform’s future pilots will hold.