Days of Change

The Pay Wall

November 30, 2014
1 Comment

So, this is the point where I learn that the shows I enjoyed watching at the beginning of the season have now been canceled.  By comparison, shows on Pay TV networks like HBO and Showtime go on season after season. Even when they end, they are not summarily axed. They finish out their season. Netflix and Amazon now produce content that is instant in the sense that all episodes can be available at once.

When a TV show is canceled, it has less than a 1% chance of being renewed. There’s an even lower chance of it moving to another network or cable. It happens, sometimes. CBS got JAG from NBC and used it to spin-off into NCIS, which is a staple of the network schedule. Showtime canceled Stargate and the Scifi channel picked it up. It lasted 6 seasons on that channel and launched two spin-offs.

Now that streaming websites have started to produce professional-grade content, fans of canceled shows have been asking them to pick up failed programming. Netflix did this in the case of perennially low-rated “sitcom” Arrested Development. The chances of the average half-season failure to launch getting new life, however, is very small.

We are still approaching an interesting point in entertainment. Budgets for shows of all types now run the gamut from shoestring to Hollywood. There isn’t a barrier to production, just to the venue. The really interesting news in all this is that “the media” and “Hollywood” have lost a little more control over what we can see and hear. Not only can we choose shows that will not be canceled on a lark, but providers who will give us shows that don’t alienate or annoy us.


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