‘Longmire’ season 4: A&E exec says ownership, not viewers’ age, reason for no renewal

Big news -Well, we knew that this was going to be coming sooner rather than later: A&E being forced to defend themselves for the stunning move to not renew “Longmire” for a fourth season. With that being said, they may have messed this one up pretty badly.

We don’t want to put our analysis before the quote itself, so let’s start off with the hard facts. Included in a great piece by Annabelle Gurwitch in The Hollywood Reporter (added by the publication’s editor), an executive at the network had the following to say about the belief that the show was canceled because its viewers were “too old” to be valuable:

“The issue with Longmire is more about the ownership than the age of the audience.  The studio model is broken and networks just aren’t able to monetize series that underperform in the key demos advertisers covet if they don’t own a piece of it.”

So basically, the exec says that it is the fault of the show coming from Warner Horizon and not from A&E itself, and not from the show having older viewers; then, they go on to say that it is actually still the older viewers that are the problem. If the show had younger viewers, by this logic, the network would be able to “monetize” the show.

The issue that we have here, other than the fact that the entire ratings and advertising system are both somewhat broken, is that this feels like the network is not really owning their move. We would prefer hearing something along the lines of “the show just isn’t making us enough money, and we don’t have the time or the patience to go through the process of proving to advertisers that older viewers matter.” We still wouldn’t like that, but we would at least understand it further.

Clearly, there was a problem somewhere with “Longmire” that made A&E want to make this decision. We don’t think that a network would willingly can a show and face this backlash unless they had a reason for it, however heartless that may be for those are invested. With that being said, there were dozens of ways that the entire situation could have been handled better, instead of now having thousands of fans online saying that they will no longer watch your network ever again. You could have been transparent with your issues sooner, more transparent with them now, or looked for a partner to help front some of the costs to make the bottom line smaller. This is what AMC did in order to make “The Killing” season 3 happen.

We wrote earlier this week about the show’s hunt for a new suitor, and stressed within there that there are still plenty of reasons to have hope for the show’s future. It’s a good piece to check out if you have time this weekend.

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Photo: A&E

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