There are a number of reasons why this news matters, but the obvious first one is that this represents the show doing something that very few other premium-cable programs doing — arriving on a streaming service separate from the network. We talk more in-depth about this, and while it may just be the first two seasons as opposed to all four, there is weight and meaning behind this move.
We don’t want to beat around the bush here and talk about all of the possible benefits for the show when the principal one in our mind is clear: This is the sort of move that can extent the series’ life on the air.
To date, Outlander already has a renewal through season 6, meaning that this series will probably remain on the air through at least 2021, if not longer depending on what the release structure is for the remaining 24 episodes. (Odds are, season 5 is premiering within the first half of 2020.) There probably will not be anyone talking about the series’ overall endgame for a little while because of that, and we would be surprised if the season 6 writers’ room even opens before the holiday season this year. Maybe it will dance around in the heads of series bigwigs like the executive producers, but that’s about it … for now. A time will come when these larger decisions have to be made and producers can huddle around together and try to determine what they feel to be the right move for the future of the show.
This is where Netflix comes into play. The chief component in continuing any series is money — it’s simple as that since this is a business same as any other. Maybe we’re talking about it in the context of how much it costs to film a series, or maybe we’re talking about it in terms of net profits for both Starz as a network and then also Sony as a studio. We argue in our video below that there is little financial downside to Starz for the first two seasons being on Netflix. This is a move that will get more potential viewers hooked on Outlander who may have never paid for Starz to get it in the first place; if they are hooked, then maybe they will actually consider getting a subscription to watch subsequent seasons. Everyone could make more money at both Sony and Starz because of this deal and if that happens, that means there’s more viability in the brand long-term.
We know already that there are ten books within the Diana Gabaldon Outlander universe. Theoretically, that means ten seasons — we don’t like to predict something like that happening so many years in advance (especially since so few premium-cable series make it to ten seasons), but that possible outcome is still out there. The only way the show makes it there is if the money is still there to make the show and everyone involved is still down to do more. After the first six or seven seasons, television shows tend to get a little bit pricier. That’s why a deal like this for Netflix matters. In finding a new mechanism to bring in viewers and potentially drive more profits over at Starz, then maybe there’s a way that we can see a stronger viewership and then a season 7 renewal beyond that. This is at least the hope, but it may take some time still for this hope to manifest into anything more solid like an announcement.
Remember, Outlander is not even premiering on Netflix US until May 27 — it may take some time after that for the results to start to make themselves clear.
Do you think that the new Outlander deal at Netflix could actually lead to the series getting that much-desired season 7 renewal? Be sure to share in the comments below.