14 JUL 2021

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF PICKING UP CANCELED PROGRAMS?

A new Morning Consult analysis of Netflix’s US Top 10 rankings shows the value of picking up canceled programs from broadcast networks, while giving these titles another chance to catch on with audiences.

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"Lucifer"

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Netflix has plenty of popular and critically acclaimed original series, but a new Morning Consult analysis of the service’s US Top 10 rankings shows the value of picking up canceled programs from broadcast networks, while giving these titles another chance to catch on with audiences.

The most recent examples are “Manifest” and “Lucifer,” both of which finished in the top five of June’s rankings in the United States. Kids’ program “CoComelon” and the Netflix original “Sweet Tooth” were the only shows to finish ahead of them.

The first two seasons of “Manifest,” an NBC drama that began airing in 2018, hit Netflix last month, just ahead of the show’s third season finale, and entered the Top 10 at number 3. NBC canceled the show on June 14 (the show ranked number 1 on Netflix that day), and after rumors swirled around the show’s future, Netflix reportedly passed on picking “Manifest” up for a fourth season.

“Lucifer,” which is based on a DC Comics character, has more staying power. The drama, which aired on Fox from 2016-2018 before being canceled by the network, was picked up in June 2018 by Netflix, which elevated it to original series status. The result has been two additional seasons, along with a renewal for a sixth and final season. After the second half of “Lucifer’s” fifth season premiered on May 28, the series spent 22 days in the Top 10.  

“Converting a canceled title into a streaming original can attract new audiences who might have missed the show’s initial network run,”  said Kevin Westcott, Vice Chairman and Leader of Deloitte’s US Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice. “Even though they may have been canceled on either cable or traditional broadcast, most people probably won’t know that. Now, if it’s being branded as an original, it actually has a lot of marketing power and people definitely are attracted to originals,”  Westcott added.

Earlier this year, “The Baker and the Beauty,” an ABC romantic comedy that aired in 2020, and the NBC drama “Good Girls,” which ends its broadcast run later this month, spent 16 and 22 days, respectively, in Netflix’s US Top 10.

However, not every canceled show can find a second life on streaming. Ian Greenblatt, Managing Director of Technology, Media and Telecom Intelligence at J.D. Power, said there is no guarantee that a show that did not work on broadcast will work on streaming due to myriad factors that influence a streaming company’s decision to revive a series or not. “Each individual title requires a financial workup to accurately predict if a show that did not work in broadcast can be revitalized, produced and added to in terms of the amount of content that an individual title has going back into production,”  he said.

Greenblatt also indicated that the online movements to bring canceled series back are typically started by the series’ most passionate fans, but that does not always reflect potential mass appeal. It all adds up to an expensive gamble that will not pay off for the streamers if the network audience does not follow and the series fails to find a new one on a new platform, according to Westcott.

“If you pick up something that was out there for a couple seasons, and you put it on your service and you are not able to attract the audience or you are not willing to invest in the next season, you are basically licensing content that will have a relatively short shelf life,”  Westcott concluded.

Converting a canceled title into a streaming original can attract new audiences who might have missed the show’s initial network run” Kevin Westcott Vice Chairman and Leader of Deloitte’s US Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice