Everyone has been FREAKING out asking about when season 3 of Outlander will be announced. I get the worry – you want your favorite show to keep going. But, listen everyone, take a chill pill. Season 3 is going to be announced soon. No, I don’t know this to be an absolute fact, but given the history of how the television industry works, the season 3 renewal should be announced relatively soon. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at when recent decisions to renew some of television’s best shows have gone public…
OK – before we jump into the minutiae of recent renewals and why you need’t worry about Outlander being brought back for a third season, let’s take a brief look at the television industry as a whole, but also the state in which STARZ finds itself.
There has been a seismic shift in the way Americans are consuming their entertainment – not only has their attention been drastically drawn away from movies being the choice medium and they have transferred that interest into the television world; but, now, even the way television series’ are disseminated has completely evolved.
Gone are the days of yore when one had to wait week-to-week for some of their favorite shows. Now, with only one mouse click, or a gentle finger tap, entire seasons are released in the blink of an eye, binge watched, cast aside – never to be heard from again because people have moved on to the next hit binge series.
I’m not passing judgement by the way – I’m completely guilty of doing the same thing (I watched 2 seasons of Halt and Catch Fire in 3 days.)
But the volatile concoction that’s created because of the demand for an ever increasing quality of television, in tandem with how quickly people are consuming that quality television, has resulted in more television series being created than ever before.
In fact, due to the likes of NETFLIX, HULU, AMAZON, etc., throwing their hats in the original content ring, 2015 saw 409 scripted television shows created. The highest number ever. President of FX, John Landgraf, has even gone on record saying that there is just literally too much television for people to consume and that the public can’t even keep track of what’s on anymore. (Whether you choose to believe his argument is dependent on your philosophy as a consumer, but it’s still an argument worth discussing.)
My point is this, in order to compete, networks have to keep churning out television series. This is why you see 400 different versions of CSI, NCIS, superhero shows, Chicago PD, FD, ER’s, medical dramas, and movies turned television shows like Hawaii Five-O, Limitless, and the impending Rush Hour series. Networks need to find what people like, create it, and give it to us like lemmings. Give ’em what the want, and give to them til they choke on it. And, it’s hard to deny their success – they’re raking in the dough.
So if a show has decent ratings, it’s going to be renewed simply because the networks need dependable IP’s to market to the lemmings.
So why you ask, has STARZ not announced season 3 of Outlander yet, if they need to keep churning out content? Why did they announce season 1 and 2 nearly in tandem? Why keep up the suspense? WILL IT BE RENEWED!?!?!
The answer is a very clear and resounding “yes.” I promise.
But, don’t take just my word for it. Let’s look at the recent history of television networks, and why season 3 any show is VERY RARELY announced before season 2 premieres.
Better Call Saul (AMC) – This show has been a resounding success, earning Emmy nominations, critical praise and retaining a decent viewership despite the obvious complications of being a spin-off to one of the greatest shows ever created in Breaking Bad.
Season 2 premiere date: February 2015
Season 3 renewal date: March 2015
Breaking Bad (AMC) – Speaking of Breaking Bad, let’s just see when the show that is widely argued as the “greatest show ever created” was renewed, shall we?
Season 2 premiere date: March 2009
Season 3 renewal date: April 2009
Halt And Catch Fire (AMC) – Continuing with the AMC theme, this was the little show that could. Despite it’s dismal viewership (probably hovering around 300k or so), AMC decided to renew it due to it’s more bankable IP’s in Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, and Fear The Walking Dead. And, AMC is better off for it because while they have the money makers in the aforementioned shows, they can still make artistic (and honestly superior) shows like this at the same time. This has quickly become one of my favorite shows to date, and I wish more people knew about it.
Season 2 premiere date: May 2015
Season 3 renewal date: October 2015
The Americans (FX) – This is quietly one of the top 5 best shows on television, it’s on FX, and very few people know about it. Again, the fact that no one really watches FX is a possible reason for the lack of exposure of this show, but the quality is outstanding.
Season 2 premiere date: February 2014
Season 3 renewal date: April 2014
“But these are all network shows!” I hear you cry from behind your computer screen or smart phone. “Cable Networks work differently than subscription networks!” You know, you’re right.
So, lets take a look at some subscription shows too.
Game Of Thrones (HBO) – Yes, despite all the awards, the cultural zeitgeist, it’s unmatched quality, the most popular show on the almighty HBO even had to wait for it’s renewal as well.
Season 2 premiere date: Beginning of April 2012
Season 3 renewal date: End of April 2012
The Leftovers (HBO) – Another show that has dismal ratings, but is allowed to live on because of how creative it is, and the fact that it is prestige television. It has since been argued that season 2 is among the best seasons of television EVER created.
Season 2 premiere date: October 2015
Season 3 renewal date: December 2015
Penny Dreadful (SHOWTIME) – Say what you will about this show, whether you like it or not, it has proven to be one of SHOWTIMES best hits in quite a while. Guess what? It had to wait too.
Season 2 premiere date: May 2015
Season 3 renewal date: June 2015
Homeland (SHOWTIME) – Arguably the most popular show in SHOWTIME’s history – although an argument can and should be made for Dexter – people were DYING to get more of it once the second season concluded. Much like Game Of Thrones, Homeland became a zeitgeist for the American public. It, too, had to wait.
Season 2 premiere date: September 2012
Season 3 renewal date: October 2012
OK – So subscription shows take their time too. But what about an apples-to-apples comparison? Let’s examine STARZ latest trends on renewal…
Spartacus (STARZ) – Granted, not a huge hit for the network, but Spartacus did help STARZ infancy in original programming. It was one of the first shows they could point to and say, “look, we can play in this playground too!” Yet, fans had to wait 6 months to find out it was coming back.
Season 2 premiere date: January 2012
Season 3 renewal date: June 2012
Black Sails (STARZ) – Another show that is widely considered decent, it even has the backing of one Michael Bay. BS has decent numbers, a FANTASTIC score by Bear McCreary, and a unique setting. But, like all the others, it had to wait 4 months!
Season 2 premiere date: October 2014
Season 3 renewal date: January 2015
DaVinci’s Demons (STARZ) – Despite the relative popularity of this show, it still falls into the same category of Black Sails. Nice, quaint, decently written and unique. But the third season is it’s last.
Season 2 premiere date: March 2014
Season 3 renewal date: May 2014
Power (STARZ) – How about the network’s most popular show? Did it have to wait? You bet. Although, it didn’t wait all that long….
Season 2 premiere date: Early June 2015
Season 3 renewal date: Late June 2015
So, ultimately, here is the lesson – even television’s most popular shows of all time have to wait in order to get renewed. Networks have to see if people want to continue watching the show after their initial commitment.
But why do they renew shows so quickly after, or during, or even before season 1 begins? Outlander season 2 was renewed before season 1 even began.
They make the initial commitment because networks also want consumers to know that their product won’t be a “one-and-done” either. I know for myself, I never watch a show until season 2 has been confirmed (unless there is the rare great show that I KNOW will be renewed.) I don’t want to invest my time and love into a story, it’s setting, or it’s characters if it’s just going to go away as soon as I’m in love with it.
Of course, this isn’t just a recent practice of shows waiting to be renewed. But, these are examples of the most recent history of the most popular shows on television.
Hell, as you can see in STARZ’ case, despite it’s relative youth in the original content world, and the fact that it is DESPERATE for any content that people will enjoy, STARZ takes even longer than the rest of the network world.
But, generally, you have to wait one to two months after season 2 of your show premieres for it to be renewed. The networks need to see that people still want to consume their product before they commit to it again.
SO RELAX PEOPLE.
Season 2 of Outlander hasn’t even begun yet. It will be renewed soon.
And to be honest, STARZ needs to renew it. Their content (although improved by ASH vs. Evil Dead and Blunt Talk) is still relatively weak. They aren’t drawing great numbers (Power is the highest rated with about 3 million viewers), and they don’t have anything great in the pipeline. They need good content and they know they have a good show in Outlander, which has a built in audience, and is being ran by one of the most elite showrunners ever in Ron Moore.
If we haven’t gotten an announcement by the time season 2 concludes, or shortly thereafter, then we have a little bit more of an issue to deal with.