Why a Great Second Season is Often Too Late to Save a Struggling Show

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At Adweek, I got to write about an issue that’s been bugging me. Shows are improving themselves in their second season — like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and FX’s The Bridge — but they aren’t winning back viewers who bailed on those shows in the first season.

I spoke with FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, who had great insight (as always) about why shows can’t win back their viewers, no matter how great they get. As he told me,

The problem, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf tells Adweek, is that viewers simply have too many other options to be patient. “There will be about 350 scripted original series this year aired on linear and nonlinear services in the U.S. That’s really an unprecedented volume,” said Landgraf, whose team compiles a list of every season of scripted and unscripted series that airs. Last year’s total: 1,400 original seasons of material, with 2014’s tally looking to be even higher. “And so I think that consumers just have too many options,” Landgraf said. “Why should you ever watch anything other than something that’s the equivalent of a four-star movie or a four-star television show?”

Landgraf also talked about his agonizing decision to cancel The Bridge, a show which soared creatively in Season 2.

Why a Great Second Season is Often Too Late to Save a Struggling Show

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