NBC got mysterious in the 2018-2019 TV season with the premiere of Manifest. The series, which follows the passengers of a plane that went missing for five years only to suddenly reappear with no obvious explanation, premiered back in September. Only four episodes of the new show have aired so far, but NBC clearly has faith that it will continue to deliver. The Peacock Network has officially ordered three additional episodes of Manifest's first season.
The order for three more episodes brings the total episode count for Season 1 up to 16. Although 16 episodes is still significantly shorter than the full season orders other shows typically receive, generally ranging between 20 and 23 episodes, the increased length bodes well for Manifest. It's also worth noting that shows with shorter seasons tend to be serialized shows primarily based on a central arc.
Shows like NCIS and The Big Bang Theory can run open-and-shut stories each week before moving onto the next; shows like Manifest that tell one big story can actually work much better without trying to stretch an arc into several more episodes than are strictly necessary. 16 could be the sweet spot for a Manifest episode count.
The relatively early news of the increased episode count likely means that the folks behind the scenes will have plenty of time to craft how the story will progress through to the season finale. If NBC had ordered three extra episodes when Manifest has already aired nine or ten installments, producers may have had to scramble to make the story stretch to 16. That doesn't have to be the case now.
There's even more good news for viewers who are already hooked on Manifest. Deadline reports that NBC intends to run original episodes of the series in the first quarter of the new year without airing any reruns. TV fans who despaired at all the NBC hiatuses early in 2018 due to the Winter Olympics will get new episodes of at least Manifest in early 2019. Manifest is the second freshman NBC series to get exciting news from the network recently.
All things considered, Manifest scoring some additional episodes in Season 1 comes as no surprise. It already became the highest-rated new series in the valuable 18-49 age demographic and total viewers. It broke a record with its premiere, becoming the top time-shifted series premiere on record for NBC with a Live+Same day viewership of 10.41 million people. After a few days passed for Live+3 day calculations, Manifest bumped its viewership up to 16.13 million. The premiere scored a ratings win with 3.63 in the key demo.
Delayed viewing is a big deal for Manifest. Overall, the show is averaging a 3.9 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 17.2 million viewers in Live+7. Unless the show loses a huge chunk of its audience in the remaining episodes of Season 1, a renewal for Season 2 is just about as much of a sure thing as can be found on network television.