J.K. Simmons' Counterpart Was Cancelled At Starz For Being Too 'Male'

Starz Counterpart Official still with J.K. Simmons

Starz is known for a variety of genre programming. Over the last few years, a lot of the network's shows seemed to hit different audiences and J.K. Simmons’ series Counterpart was no different, skewing heavily male. Unfortunately, the show came at a time when Starz was really opting to push for a more female audience via other shows like Outlander or Power. Unfortunately, Counterpart was simply too "male.”

Therefore, Starz COO Jeffrey Hirsch revealed at TCA 2019 that unfortunately, Counterpart’s cancellation didn’t have to do as much with TV quality or ratings as it had to do with Starz really pushing a brand new brand strategy. He noted,

Counterpart was a great show, we had great partners in MRC and Justin is a great writer, but it was a very complicated show, a very male show. We had picked that show up and made a two-season commitment before we’d honed in on this premium female strategy.

Per Jeffrey Hirsch, it was really the content strategy that sunk Counterpart. It’s a little bit interesting given certain episodes of Counterpart Season 2 were only bringing in a few hundred thousand viewers, while other shows on other networks and even Starz bring in millions of eyeballs each week. (Even Outlander for example, averages well over a million Live + Same Day viewers.)

Yet, really when it comes to subscription cable programming, there are no ads during the actual airings of the episodes, and a lot of programs without great ratings the night an episode premieres end up picking up traffic later thanks to DVR, repeated showings and streaming options for channels like Starz, HBO and Showtime. Subscription cable rather relies on creating premium products audiences really want to subscribe to.

­Counterpart was initially signed on for a two-season order by Starz. The J.K. Simmons starrer was well-reviewed, but it just never caught on in the same way viral hits do. In fact I’m not certain it even caught on in the way most genre niche hits do.

Regardless, Jeffrey Hirsch also stuck with the “very male” line when he continued to talk at TCA (via Deadline), noting the network just couldn’t stick with a show that stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the subscription cabler’s other programming.

When you look at bringing shows back, it really has to serve that core premium female audience and if it doesn’t we have to find something else. If it doesn’t serve our core strategy, we’re just not going to do it.

Ultimately, Justin Marks announced a few weeks ago that Counterpart will not be returning for Season 3 on Starz. Every show has an avid fanbase and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who will miss the series not being a part of their viewing calendar next TV season. If Jeffrey Hirsch is correct, most of these avid viewers were male.

Instead, Starz will continue some of its popular programming and will be bringing in some new shows coming up, including Dangerous Liaisons, Hightown (P-Town), which marks Monica Raymund’s next starring role, Penny Dreadful: City of Angelsitself a sequel series -- and P-Valley, many of these coming from Jerry Bruckheimer.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.