What Actually Killed The Hannibal TV Show, According To The Exec Producer

While fans of Hannibal are aware enough to know that it was a longshot for the show to last as long as it did on NBC, pragmatism doesn’t soothe the wounds that were left when the show was canceled last year. And while many of us are still shooting eye-daggers at NBC, one of the show’s executive producers isn’t laying the blame on the network, but rather viewers who watched the show through illegal methods.

Martha De Laurentiis, wife of the late Dino De Laurentiis and co-founder of Dino De Laurentiis Company, points the finger at those who accessed episodes through means that didn’t equal Nielsen ratings for NBC. Here’s how she put it.

When nearly one-third of your audience for Hannibal is coming from pirated sites… You don’t have to know calculus to do the math. If a show is stolen, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fairly compensate a crew and keep a series in production.

Whoever said “Nothing in life is free,” clearly wasn’t of the mind to consider online piracy, which is as big a blight to the entertainment community as Hannibal’s axing was to all the Fannibals out there who used their TVs and legal cable or satellite subscriptions to tune in every week. You always hear about shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones setting piracy records, but those shows already have huge legitimate ratings. Hannibal, meanwhile, was coasting on numbers in the very low millions, especially after NBC doomed the gorgeous horror drama by putting it on Saturday nights in Season 3.

There’s obviously no proof, presumably in the form of an email from an honest and talkative NBC exec, that online piracy was indeed the blade slid between Hannibal’s shoulder blades, but it certainly couldn’t have helped. NBC was never whole-heartedly into getting the masses into Hannibal, with critical hype doing a lot to keep the show on the air, so it’s understandable that NBC would have balked harder after seeing a good chunk of a potential audience hitting up illegal streaming sites.

If Martha De Laurentiis’ words to Yahoo are indeed on the money, I’m curious to know if Hannibal fanatics (at least those who used illicit avenues of viewing the show) would have reversed their actions if they knew they would be part of the reason why the show got canceled. Some people never learn, sure, but there would have to be some that avoided piracy and just set their DVRs or watched at a friend’s house.

Complaining about Hannibal not being able to introduce Clarice Starling is useless, since no post-NBC attempts to get the show picked up somewhere were successful. And creator Bryan Fuller is busy with both American Gods on Starz and the new Star Trek series for CBS All Access. But whatever it takes to let this be a lesson to anyone out there who hates when shows meet their premature ends.

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.