Late last year/early this one, we were hopeful that we could theoretically get season 5 in either January or February of next year … but that was also back when we thought production was starting a month and a half earlier than it did. With it starting in April, we’ve seen a tendency for this show to air around a year or so after filming begins. That means a spring 2020 launch is a little more likely, and while that’s a terrible wait, there are some reasons why spring could bring Outlander into full bloom in a way that the winter could not. Why is that? Let’s take a look:
1. Following the pattern set by Game of Thrones – There’s a reason why the majority of the HBO series’ seasons aired at this particular part of the year — there’s something that the network figured out about this spot that made it so appealing. The best part about Outlander airing here (ironically) is that Game of Thrones wouldn’t be on anymore to take some of its thunder, and the prequel series still seems to be a good ways out. (We’re starting to wonder if that show will even be out in 2020 at all.)
2. Avoiding winter TV competition – Sure, Outlander doesn’t need to worry about live ratings and losing viewers to other competition — but airing opposite the Golden Globes, Grammys, Oscars, and the Super Bowl is far from ideal. Think of all of the publicity the show would miss out on just because of the attention given to all of those other things.
3. The Netflix factor – This is something that we now have to think about that we never did before — because of seasons 1 and 2 coming to Netflix in America, there’s a chance to build the viewership pool larger than ever! Given that these seasons come out in late May, airing next spring would provide ample time for new viewers to discover the show on the streaming service, and then hopefully get Starz to watch the third and fourth seasons before season 5 premieres. We’ve seen shows like Breaking Bad leverage a large hiatus before in order to build a viewership thanks to Netflix. With the right show, the streaming service can pay off HUGE dividends.
4. Allowing the show ample post-production time – More than likely, season 5 won’t wrap filming until around the holiday season at the earliest. Typically, Outlander seasons premiere a few months after filming wraps — look at seasons 3 and 4 as prime examples. It’s probably unrealistic to think that season 5 could finish in November/December and then premiere in either January/February. Even with one fewer episode this season, March or April is probably more feasible.
5. The Emmy window – Sure, we recognize that Outlander has aired in the spring before and been snubbed nonetheless of Emmy consideration, but we still want to think that a nomination is possible! This is the best time for a show to air, given that it allows it to be top of mind for a lot of viewers who are possibly making decisions on-the-fly for nominations. The fear here is that if season 5 doesn’t premiere until next June or later, it won’t be eligible for the 2020 Emmys at all.