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Cancel, Renew, Make a Movie: Tough Choices for Streaming Series

Ever since streaming’s dominance, the life cycle of TV shows has fundamentally changed. Now a show like You can only not only get a second chance but go from a flop to a phenomenon and Breaking Bad can give Jesse closure with a movie like El Camino.

But Netflix is not just in the business of saving shows; it can be quite efficient at shuttering a series even if there seems to be a wide fan base hoping to tune in again. Covid has complicated these matters as some shows that were renewed are now being cancelled because the logistics are just too fraught; female wrestler comedy GLOW is the highest profile show that was on its way to a fourth season but is now over.

Is GLOW being gone for good the best business decision by Netflix? Should they wait and try again if the pandemic slows down? Could they, as some have suggested, try and wrap it up with a far less resource-consuming film?

It’s hard to pinpoint the best indicators of how a show should end its run, but using AI could be one of the more reliable methods to figure out the cost-benefit of each possibility.

One way is to use Content Intelligence to determine what about the previous seasons has really resonated with the audience. If certain characters or storylines were what drove the greatest engagement, and those don’t have significant roles in the next season, there is the possibility of declining interest in whatever receives greater focus. On the other hand, if the things that impacted the audience most positively will be a primary focus of the next season, that fan base may be more likely to stay through the entire new season.

When it comes to a film, which allows for a much more focused story with fewer characters, AI analysis of what truly resonates with the audience allows an “all killer no filler” approach. That simply means that in the 90 minutes or so, the most resonant characters and storylines can be prioritized.

And, while a show that was discontinued for a while may get a certain amount of viewership, analyzing the shows that are currently popular is a way to gauge if it’s simply nostalgia, or the show still jibes with the current crop of popular content.

The threat of cancellation always looms large over most series, and Covid has made it even more immediate. But by using AI and Content Intelligence, showrunners, studios and streamers can figure out exactly how these stories should come to a close.

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