Netflix is unquestionably the champion of streaming services and is steadily attracting new subscribers, but for many, the service has become the champ of squashing hopes and dreams. Because Netflix churns out so much material, they also cancel series with the quickness, after one, two or– if they’re lucky– three seasons. The most obvious reason for cancellation is, of course, not enough viewers. But Netflix and other services don’t disclose their streaming numbers, the way shows on regular TV do. Unless Netflix specifically says a show was cancelled due to low numbers (like the recently-axed sitcom ‘One Day at a Time’), sometimes fans have to speculate.
But a new report in The Information points out that most shows are canceled for what is probably the second-most logical reason– money. As the report states, when shows start off, they are more economical. Their budgets tend to be lower and the stars and creators are paid a set amount. If a show is successful, however, and the show extends beyond a second season (which is said to be the average), those contracts have to be renegotiated.
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It also states that interest naturally dwindles after the first couple of seasons, which is the norm for shows on regular TV as well. So it makes better financial sense for Netflix to chop the existing show, which is on the decline, and launch something new which will attract more viewers, including fresh subscribers who would rather jump on board something from the start than play catch-up by binging prior seasons. (Especially, when they are the “only one” watching, and the rest of the population has already moved on because then they have no one to talk to about it.)
There is probably more to the axing of the Marvel Entertainment shows that were all cleaned out during a rolling wave of cancellations. Marvel is owned by Disney, which is launching its own service to compete with Netflix, Disney+, and has also become the owner of existing competitor Hulu. So it would be natural for Netflix to want to sever ties.
BUT, while Netflix didn’t say so, according to an outside service that monitors online chatter, all of the Marvel shows on Netflix had dwindled in popularity. While they were buzzy when they started, casual viewers were already tuning out, and these were expensive shows to produce with loads of stunt work and special effects. It’s entirely possible that even without the actions of Disney that these shows were on their way out the door.
And something like ‘Stranger Things’ would likely be exempt because it has become a cultural phenomenon. (It turns out that Netflix doesn’t make as much off of licensing and commercial tie-ins as one would think, but that’s a whole different report.) Even so, it sounds as though Season 4 will be it for the show, due to story reasons, not money.
So ‘The Umbrella Academy’ has been ordered for a second season, but will it go on beyond that? We’ll see.