It used to be unheard of for a show to be cancelled and get picked up by another network. With the rise of streaming, though, it became a lot more likely that beloved series with small but dedicated fanbases could see their axed favorites show up on a streaming service like Netflix for new seasons. From the outside, it seems a lot like this is an easy process, but it turns out that's not usually the case. And, we now know much more about how it actually works when shows like SEAL Team move from a network to streaming.
Even though the David Boreanaz-led SEAL Team did decently in the ratings for four seasons on CBS, and had a committed following among its fans, the show was definitely on the bubble by the end of Season 4, which led viewers to fight for the show to be picked up somewhere so it would have at least one more season. Paramount+ felt like a natural fit, seeing as how the streamer already has streaming rights to current (and many past) CBS shows. A deal was worked out by the end of May, but according to a new report from Variety, it had to include several provisions for the switch.
This means that SEAL Team Season 5 has a guaranteed 14 episodes, with four of those episodes set to air on CBS, and at least 10 additional episodes going straight to Paramount+. Apparently, negotiations also led to a clause noting that, should the military drama continue on the streamer for a sixth season, it would only get a guarantee for 10 episodes, as opposed to the 13 which is standard for broadcast.
If the show proves to be a hit on Paramount+, Season 6 could see more episodes ordered, but the cast is already looking at a pay cut of at least 23% just to keep that potential 10 episode order in place.
In just the past few years, TV viewers have seen a number of shows move from broadcast and cable networks to streaming services. Netflix alone has brought back many series, including the neo-western Longmire (cancelled by A&E), political thriller Designated Survivor (cut by ABC), stalking drama You (from Lifetime), family comedy Arrested Development and fantasy procedural Lucifer (both formerly on Fox). Plus, other shows like A.P. Bio, The Expanse, and The Mindy Project were picked up by Peacock, Amazon, and Hulu from their former broadcast homes. But, transitioning a series from broadcast to streaming is a more complex task than most people likely think.
The streaming model itself is so different from broadcast, that it actually makes the shift quite a bit more difficult, because whatever deal was in place at the network now has to be totally renegotiated to make it worth a streamer's money and effort. Once a series like SEAL Team moves to streaming, there's no longer the potential of extended back-end profits from syndication, with the show now likely living on that service for years to come, if not in perpetuity. Taking a show to streaming means higher up-front license costs, whereas in broadcast those fees are lower, because the studios behind the dramas and comedies are able to make up that lost revenue by taking the shows to syndication.
This extreme shift in the renegotiation of budgets, license fees, and episode orders is what's led to shows like CBS' freshman drama Clarice, ABC's quickly cancelled Rebel, and (possibly) NBC's Manifest not being picked up by the streamers that were attempting to save the shows and give fans more of their favorite stories.
Basically, what this all boils down to is that, even though there are a lot more options now for cancelled shows to maybe make a comeback, it's still an exercise in overcoming several complications, so if a network show you love doesn't get picked up by a streaming service, try not to be too bummed about it.
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