on June 09, 2015 Opinion

Staying Alive: The Pros and Cons of Television Reboots

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Hollywood Reported recently wrote about   22 TV Shows Brought Back From the Dead. These shows range from current faves that went flat (Mindy Project) to cult classics (X-files). Netflix, Hulu and even cable networks like TBS have gotten in on the growing market of discarded shows hoping to cash in on broadcast television’s "finite inventory" problem. In theory it seems like a great a idea. What is there to lose in bringing back shows that have built in followings? Add the fact that millennials crave the simpler times of their youths, there’s really no apparent issue in giving them what they seemingly want. Right?

The pros of the resurrection model for media companies are generally related to revenue vs. expense. Digital entities like HULU, can generate ad revenue for the Mindy Project 24 hours a day due to less restricted inventory limitations. Netflix may also find expected LTV of those who subscribe solely to access the resurrected show to be greater than the cost of continuing a full scale production. If someone watches or signs up because of a reboot they make money--simple. If someone watched on network television, the network may make money but at the expense of another show that they couldn’t air at that time. For networks, it’s much more of a balancing act and a game of chance when they continue to produce low rated programs.

Another pro of bringing back oldies but goodies, is general fan satisfaction. Speaking from experience nothing hurts more than a ton of bricks like your favorite story coming to an abrupt and unsatisfying end. Nothing. From a business perspective, building customer loyalty by bringing such shows back is unparalleled.

There are drawbacks, however. The problem of continuing to resurrect shows that were cancelled are the same issues that many have with movie remakes. It’s not just a continuation of a show but a continuation of politics, and middling creativity leading way. For fans it can be amazing but it can also be a souring experience. The phrase “let sleeping dogs lie” comes to mind. For many, shows like “Full House” have ran their course and ended satisfactorily. Similarly, “Boy Meets World” came to fitting conclusion. Yet both have or are slated for reboots. Why? No other reason than to squeeze out the last bit of good will and fandom faith that can be mustered. Audiences are manipulated into still caring about their old favorites despite most moving on. Even a cult favorite like X-files have fans begrudgingly excited for a show that sputtered out in a boring fashion. Even in missing these character, most viewers respect the closing of a journey. Companies must be especially careful not to hurt a legacy brand or they may see the sure bets fail to find a footing.

In spite of this, the financial benefit for media companies to pick up failed or long cancelled shows outweigh the risks. In this growing trend, we may see the end of the word 'cancelleled' replaced with "on hold" or "permanent haitus" while networks wait for buyers.




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Shannon Hawkins

I'm a content marketing/strategist at MediaSilo. I'm also the first person on record to ever feel "whelmed".