Is Freeform in the midst of a crisis? It’s an interesting question to wonder based on some of the news that broke tonight. Famous in Love, a show that boasted a famous lead in Bella Thorne and a prolific producer in I. Marlene King, was canceled after two seasons on the air. Meanwhile, the network recently also canceled Shadowhunters, an extremely popular show with an audience all over the world, earlier this summer.
We don’t want to get too much into comparing one cancellation situation to the other, mostly because each have their own set of variables behind them. Yet, at the same time each do have one enormous thing in common: Showing just how difficult it is in order to air a scripted television series in 2018 on a broadcast or cable network.
Think about things this way: We’re in an era now where for so many viewers, watching Netflix is preferable to turning on television and watching commercials. That’s understandable, given that it allows you to operate more on your own schedule as opposed to following a network’s. Yet, falling for that model completely comes at the expense of traditional television. That’s why shows like Shadowhunters and Famous in Love have to rely in part on international distribution and streaming platforms in order to stick around for additional seasons. For a network like Freeform, keeping shows and funding them is a greater challenge than it is at many other networks. They have a very young audience and that means more challenges getting them to watch live. This is an audience that is growing up in a generation where they’re not used to watching television live at all.
What Freeform needs to figure out how to do now is finding better, more stable revenue streams for their shows, whether it be securing a greater abundance of advertisers, richer streaming deals from the get-go, getting additional financial backers for each show, or figuring out a way to make productions cheaper if at all possible. All canceling shows is going to do is hurt them and their reputation; if they continue to put themselves in a position where they cancel shows before their time, viewers are going to stop watching. We sometimes pound our head in frustration at people saying “I’m not going to watch new shows anymore because they always get canceled,” but we get it. Time is valuable and TV is an investment. It’s on networks to find a way in order to make it so that they can figure a stable model to keep television shows on the air without having to worry about so many different variables. They need to be in better control of their own destiny.
Now that we’ve said all this, can someone save Shadowhunters … please?
Update – There are some sources out there, via Deadline, claiming that Famous in Love is not officially dead in the water. Yet, we’re still not exactly hopeful on the future for many of the reasons stated above and the news that is out there about it being canceled.
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