Designated Survivor Could Get Saved From Cancellation, Here's The Latest

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine got scooped up by NBC after its untimely cancellation at Fox, TV fans got to immediately refresh their hopes that any and all the major cancelled series could find new life elsewhere. So fans should turn those hopes up to 11 for Kiefer Sutherland's political thriller Designated Survivor, whose two-year run could turn into three or more, with Netflix in talks to bring even more high-stakes intensity to Tom Kirkman's hectic life for Season 3.

Not long after ABC made its disappointing decision to cancel Designated Survivor ahead of this week's upfronts, production company eOne started putting feelers out to see if any other entertainment outlets would be interested in getting into business with Kiefer Sutherland's initially unwitting POTUS. And according to Deadline, those talks heated up once Netflix stepped in. Since these conversations are still in the earliest stages, the celebrations shouldn't start up in earnest just yet, but Netflix would be a pretty perfect new home, at least when ABC's reasons for cancelling it are concerned.

One of the reasons why ABC pulled the plug on Designated Survivor was its viewership situation. While the drama has done well with delayed viewing across all platforms, the Live+Same Day stats weren't at the network's desired levels. But on Netflix, ratings obviously aren't wholly tied to immediate viewing, so that wouldn't be as much of a concern.

Another reason given for Designated Survivor's shortened lifespan is its fluctuating creative team. In two seasons, the drama went through four showrunners, and a fifth one was set to take over if a third season came to light. Astute fans probably noticed some changes in direction during the times when showrunner swaps were occurring, but that issue would also presumably become less of a problem at Netflix, where there are far fewer reasons for execs to step in and offer notes and guidance that might fly in the face of creative choices. Netflix has little need to please advertisers and specific age demographics, so the show would likely adhere to a more straightforward path on the streaming service.

Understandably, Designated Survivor's writers and producers are reportedly excited about the narrative options that being on a no-holds-barred streaming service would offer them. Technically, Arrested Development has been the only major network series to get revived at Netflix, and that show didn't get overwhelmingly different when making the switch, at least as far as tone goes, if not structure. So we don't really have any good examples of how that might go, but however it would go, the fans would probably be happy about it.

One complication that potentially stands in the way of Netflix acquiring Designated Survivor is that its rival Hulu currently holds the SVOD rights for the political thriller. That would likely need to get changed up so that Netflix would be able to boast the entirety of its run during its time as a "Netflix Original." As a plus, the streaming giant does have Designated Survivor's international rights locked in, so it's just the domestic details that would need to change.

For now, it's a waiting game to see what Netflix will decide to do with Designated Survivor. Fans will definitely want to see where Season 2 wraps things up, too, and the finale will air on ABC on Wednesday, May 16, at 10:00 p.m. ET. Head to our summer premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.