Last week brought dozens of cancellations by TV networks clearing the path for new shows hitting the air for the new 2018-2019 television season. Brooklyn Nine-Nine was lucky enough to be saved with a last minute renewal, and now one more has been given a new lease on life after being canceled.
Designated Survivor is an ABC drama following Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member in the United States government who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union. With his new responsibilities, he had to keep the country and his own family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena and while leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.
The series lasted just two seasons before being canceled by ABC last week, but now production company eOne is in talks with Netflix about the political thriller getting picked up for another season. However, it’s not a done deal yet.
Deadline has news on the possibility of Designated Survivor being renewed at Netflix. The talks about picking the show up from ABC are early, and there’s one complication making it a little difficult. Netflix’s competitor Hulu has the streaming rights to the first two seasons of the series in the United States. That means if they want the show to be successful in the US, they would probably need to pay Hulu for the rights to those first two seasons. Thankfully for Netflix, they already have the global streaming rights for Designated Survivor.
However, it sounds like Netflix isn’t the only place that Designated Survivor might get revived. A statement from eOne indicates that they are “in active discussions with other parties for further series of the show.” So if Netflix can’t get those US streaming rights from Netflix, that doesn’t mean the show is dead in the water.
But other difficulties might continue to plague the series.
Why Designated Survivor Got Canceled
Whenever a series on network TV gets canceled, it’s usually because the ratings are too low for the show to be profitable for both the network and the advertisers that keep programming on the air. While ratings certainly played a part in the cancellation of Designated Survivor, it sounds like there are other problems behind the scenes that could still be an issue.
First of all, Variety reported the ratings in the second season of the show dropped quite a bit. While the first season pulled in 12.1 million viewers and a 2.9 live Nielsen rating in the key demographic among adults 18-49, the second season dropped to 8.6 million viewers and 1.7 rating in adults 18-49. But the show was still doing pretty well on the delayed viewing numbers, which makes it desirable for Netflix.
Beyond ratings though, Designated Survivor has had a problem holding on to showrunners. In just two seasons, the series went through four showrunners, and producers had already hired Neal Baer to become their fifth showrunner for the show’s third season (before it was canceled). If the series gets picked up for a third season somewhere, it’s like that Baer will come with it.
But the showrunner issue has created another problem with the show’s star. The revolving door of showrunners has been frustrating to Kiefer Sutherland, who wasn’t a fan of the change in creative direction that came with each new showrunner. While the series began as more of a political drama about the struggles of taking over the role of President after a terrorist attack takes out the entire presidential cabinet, it has become more of a drama about the difficulty of living in the White House with a family to maintain.
On top of that, Kiefer Sutherland’s contract for the third season called for the series to move production into Los Angeles instead of Toronto. That was going to make the show more expensive for the network to produce. But that’s the kind of cost that a home like Netflix wouldn’t balk at. In fact, it might give more freedom to Designated Survivor to venture out beyond its network limitations.
If Designated Survivor gets picked up, it’ll be good news for the cast, which also includes Natasha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Tanner Buchanan, Kal Penn, Maggie Q and Paulo Costanzo. But more importantly, it will keep the crew employed too. Stay tuned to see how this all pans out.
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