What’s behind a show renewal

21 December, 2023

Image: Lovecraft Country, HBO

Analyzing the television industry, a key question arises: What drives a network's decision to renew a TV show for additional seasons? This decision is multifaceted, rooted in the complex interplay of various factors, with audience engagement at its core. In our data-centric age, networks assess a show's popularity and influence, moving beyond traditional viewership metrics to include digital engagement, such as social media presence and online discussions, which are crucial indicators of a show's cultural significance and growth potential.

Parrot Analytics’  demand metric encapsulates these elements, offering insights into the factors influencing a show's renewal. For instance,  audience demand within the first 60 days post-release — a critical period for gauging a show's impact — can predict the likelihood of a show being picked up for a second season. This analysis covered over 1,400 shows from major networks and streaming platforms released between 2015 and 2022, in the US market*. Shows with demand less than 9 times the average are more likely to not be renewed for a second season, whereas those hitting a 10x demand multiplier have a 53% renewal probability.


The possibility of a show being renewed increases significantly with higher initial demand. A demand multiplier of 20x within the first 60 days indicates about a 76% renewal probability, which rises to 90% for a 30x multiplier, and nearly 100% for shows exceeding 50x.


However, it's important to note that renewal decisions aren't solely based on popularity. Some highly in-demand shows, like Disney's WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, HBO’s Lovecraft Country, and Netflix’s The Dark Crystal, were not renewed. Networks also weigh other aspects in their decisions, such as financial viability, creative direction, talent relationships, scheduling, marketing commitment, and executive shake-ups among others. Different networks prioritize these factors differently, affecting renewal probabilities.

By including the original network in our analysis, we find that the probability of a show being renewed for a second season varies by network at a given demand level (20x in this case), the probability of a show getting a second season varies by network. Apple TV+ leads with a 90.7% renewal rate, followed by Hulu at 84.0% and HBO/Max at 80.8%. Netflix is in the middle with an 80.8% rate, while Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video hover around 76.0%. This variance highlights the diverse strategies and considerations at play across different platforms.


*For more information about how the probabilities were estimated, please refer to the Methodology Note in both the first and third charts

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