T.V. shows avoid the axe with the help of streaming

Published: March 12, 2015 | Posted: March 16, 2015 | Written by Dominique Redfearn

“Community” is finally back on the small screen. No, not on it’s usual network of NBC but on a smaller screen, our computers.

Due to low ratings the sitcom was cancelled in May 2014. After initially struggling to find another platform to pick it up, it was renewed in the eleventh hour by Yahoo Screen for its sixth season. Yahoo Screen is ”Community’s” ability to be picked up by an Internet streaming site is potentially groundbreaking for other shows that were cancelled too soon.

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Photo Illustration: Miriam Ruiz

Many critically acclaimed shows have been cancelled due to low viewership despite the following that it may have. ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” (2007-2009), “Selfie” (2014), and the CW’s “Veronica Mars” (2004-2007) have all had campaigns started by fans in attempts to bring back their favorite shows.

“Mars” had a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 that raised more than double the amount of funds that they aimed for to make a new movie, “Pushing Daisies” attempted to release comic books that picked up where the show left off before the publishing company was shut down, and more recently fans of “Selfie” have tweeted the hashtag #SaveSelfie to various streaming platforms and TV executives on Twitter in attempts to bring it back.

“Selfie,” a romantic comedy staring sci-fi favorites Karen Gillan and John Cho, was predicted for cancellation before it even started. After just seven episodes, the show was pulled from the network initially leaving the last six episodes to be unaired before streaming website Hulu elected to stream them.

“Linear TV executives tend to cancel shows because they have low ratings or don’t fit into the key audience demographic for advertisers,” said Netflix spokesman Cliff Edwards to thestreet.com. “But because we (Netflix) don’t sell shows against ads, we can see that such shows have a good fan base and amortize their costs over a viewer base of 57 million members.”

Shows with low ratings but have cult followings can follow the footsteps of shows like “Community” and “Arrested Development” to be picked up by websites like Hulu and Netflix after their cancellation to further continue the shows.

The success of streaming has even led to platforms like Netflix to revive shows such as Arrested Development and air new shows to much critical acclaim like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” as well as “Transparent” on streaming competitor Amazon. Television networks are even launching apps where you can access their shows on demand through tablets and phones.

Streaming shows online is becoming the more convenient option for many people who cannot watch the show live.

Even viewers in other countries who can not watch the show until a later date and in some cases not at all, also utilize streaming websites such as Hulu where you can watch most shows the day after they air with a paid subscription.

This kind of viewership however does not count for Nielsen ratings – an outdated system that shows viewership and consumption of advertisements played during those shows – that affect television executive’s decisions on the outcomes of their programs.

There are numerous flaws in how Nielsen tracks the ratings of television shows.

One of them being the lack of counting Internet streaming into their demographics which ultimately can lead to the cancelation of a show.

In time, online streaming could become the primary source of viewing and eventually be what consumers prefer because of convenience.

Cancelling shows that originate on Netflix or Hulu may not be as easy as cancelling a show on television due to the fact that these shows are accessible to more viewers than traditional television and overall ratings can be higher and more accurate.