Shadowhunters canceled at Freeform for economic reasons

Shadowhunters season 3 spoilers
The Shadowhunters cancellation over at Freeform remains one of the most shocking decisions of the past few weeks, and that’s especially the case when you think about exactly how it went down. It wasn’t just about its ratings at Freeform, and nor was it about solely how it fared overseas.

Instead, ultimately Shadowhunters ended because of a crumbling Netflix output deal with Freeform’s co-production partner Constantin Film. This deal was, in part, one of the reasons why the show was able to make money — the Netflix pact overseas helped to fund the episodes. As for what caused the deal to fall apart, much of that in turn stems back to Freeform’s recent desire to order shows in smaller batches. We’ve seen that recently with Siren being renewed for 16 episodes, a drop from the 20 Shadowhunters has received as of late.

While hearing about finances is not exactly the most exciting subject of conversation, the way that we can frame it at the moment is like this. For a network like Freeform, having smaller seasons is somewhat appealing since it gives them more space to diversify their programming and they also may feel like it improves quality. Doing more episodes leads at time to filler content — the first season of Riverdale, for example, was shorter but also more consistent than the second season that followed. One of the reasons why Game of Thrones has been so great is because they only do ten episodes a year. Fewer episodes also makes it easier to retain viewers and find new ones.

Unfortunately, from a business point of view fewer episodes also can mean less money for many parties behind the scenes. If Shadowhunters has a per-episode licensing fee overseas with Netflix, then doing 16 episodes, for example, is less profitable than 20 episodes. All of this is complicated but ultimately, losing this show just came down to dollars and cents. This may be what makes saving it so complicated, since there would need to be a new partner who can come up with a feasible financial arrangement. We’re not accounting expert so it’s a difficult thing to speculate over.

While at a media luncheon this week Freeform’s executive vice president of programming and development Karey Burke confirmed (per Deadline) that they were “very happy creatively” with the show. Yet, in this particular case that is clearly not enough to keep it safe for another year.

Related More on possible homes for the series

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