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Television Treachery

So Netflix has officially cancelled all their Marvel shows.

While I’m not someone who watched any of those shows, I am an avid television watcher and this brings a much bigger problem into the light; whether or not to start watching a TV show that’s based on a service like Netflix before it comes to a conclusion.

While broadcast TV certainly has a problem with premature cancellations, it seems like it’s much easier for someone like Netflix – with a huge repertoire under their belt – to start culling the less popular or more expensive shows. Netflix has tons of programming that appears first/only on its service, and they don’t care as much about user happiness as they do their cash flow and perception. Culling a property that’s expensive and underperforming (in their eyes) is much easier for them than trying to give it a conclusion, as they feel that they have so much other programming to fall back on when people get mad and/or stop watching that it won’t matter in the end (even though it does).

On the other hand, broadcast TV is defined mostly by networks that house a small but loved range of shows. While many of the shows may have what the network considers to be low viewership (by their highly inaccurate viewer count systems), or they may cost a lot of money, there are only a few shows on any one network – and cancelling them might come at the cost of having nothing better available to go in its time slot. Some shows are therefore safe, even though someone like Netflix would’ve trimmed the perceived “fat” long ago.

Because of this, shows that have a broadcast presence have a better chance of surviving and getting the ending they aimed for. Not all of them do, and some of the endings still end up improvised or cut short (I’m looking at you, Timeless), but when you’ve only got a handful of good options it’s harder to cut any of them from the lineup. Anyone with a brain would find it impossible to ignore that, and very easy to see how subscription TV could be the opposite.

Now, at this point you may have guessed that my absolute biggest pet peeve is watching a TV show that gets cancelled before it reaches an adequate conclusion. It irks me so badly that most of the time I never watch that show again – even if it was one of my favourites before, and even though I love rewatching stuff. I even go as far as to sell the DVDs/Blu-Rays second hand just to get rid of them, never buy the final seasons at all (because they usually drop on disc after cancellation), and generally tell people to avoid those shows. It seems like a waste of time, and that the time I’ve put in has been a waste as well – ’cause honestly; who the fuck wants just part of an interesting story?

I’m sure on the surface my response seems like a bit of a knife in the back to a series/company that has been providing me with entertainment, but at the same time it’s easy to gloss over the fact that they also tainted that entertainment by failing to bring it to a proper end. It’s a messed up way to treat your customers (in my opinion), and I’m starting to get really tired of it.

“But Kyle, some things are just not justifiable,” you might say – right?

Sure, I’ll agree with that – but think about this for a moment; what if they pulled that trick with movies? I’m not talking such that a completed movie wouldn’t get a sequel, but what if they tracked opening night tickets live and if/when not enough people paid for the first show on the first night the movie just stopped at some arbitrary scene – and was only ever available for re-watching up to that point. That’s pretty much the model of story-telling they’ve employed with TV shows, only that you’re paying with a subscription service (streaming), or by watching live and viewing the ads (broadcast TV).

Would you call that fair, or would you call bullshit?

Personally, I’m calling bullshit, and I’ll be much more picky at what to watch in the future because of it.