NBC Calls it Quits For ‘Hannibal’

NBC Calls it Quits For ‘Hannibal’
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

In an unexpected move that was only unexpected if you actually tune in to the show, NBC canceled critical darling and ratings failure Hannibal. I’ve talked a bit about Hannibal in the past, it’s dark brilliance and disturbing beauty are something rarely, if ever, seen on television, much less on something outside HBO, much less on network television.

NBC did the best they could, really, as there is only so far you can persuade advertisers and investors to keep giving money when they are totally incapable of seeing any actual numbers indicating how the show is performing. Network television still operates on the antiquated Nielsen Ratings System, in which live-viewers are tallied to show what people are tuning in to watch, what channel they are doing it on, and what show is the most watched. However, in the age of the internet, this system continues to fail us at every turn.

Starting around the time Arrested Development was canceled after three stellar seasons on Fox, each one shorter than the last, the cracks in the system started to show. Many shows of the pre-internet era were victims of early cancellation, including Arrested Development, Firefly, and even Family Guy. Each of these shows were known as ‘critical darlings,’ meaning that critics and reviewers couldn’t get enough of them. Arrested Development won Fox the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy, and was still put on the chopping block and given the proverbial axe.

Before the internet came along and streaming video became the standard, there was actually a way for them to see how much people liked a show. DVD sales of television series in the first decade of the new Millennium revived each of the aforementioned shows. Though it took a long time for Arrested Development to continue, they are currently set to begin work on the fifth season. Firefly was able to close out their story with the theatrical release Serenity, and of course, Family Guy was saved virtually immediately, and has gone on to become the nauseatingly dominant form for Fox.

Which brings us to now, and the problem that streaming video has brought along with it. To cope with the changing ways in which people watch television, the Nielsen system introduced a ‘7 Day Plus’ ratings system, which is able to tally views through OnDemand services. The only problem being that the nation’s number one On Demand service for new network TV (Hulu) is not part of their 7 Day system. Unless you are watching a network show OnDemand through your cable provider, the numbers for whatever website you use never reach the network big-wigs, where they actually make a difference. This is also the case if you use a web-based OnDemand service through your cable provider, as most of those source through Hulu.

So because of all of this, Hannibal remains one of the highest praised shows in history whose viewership never accurately reflected who was watching. For three seasons, it’s fallen in last place, barely even cracking a million viewers. However, if you pull up Hulu’s information, that’s where you find your millions. The show is being watched, it’s just not counting that it’s being watched. This is the reason why television’s number one rated shows are CBS fare like Big Bang Theory and CSI, as by and large, the target demographic of CBS falls in an age group that doesn’t do too much on the internet, much less live most of their life through it.

It’s something that executives can’t or won’t understand, but fret not, Fannibal readers of mine, for all hope is not yet lost. Just like with the shows talked about above, Hannibal creator/EP Bryan Fuller is already shopping his baby around to streaming services. While it would make me extremely happy to see Hannibal in all of it’s unedited gory glory on Netflix, their deal with Amazon Prime, who have streaming rights to the first two seasons and dibs on the third, makes them the more likely internet channel to pick up the show.

So let’s hope that, once again, the internet swoops in and saves the day, as it did with Community or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt when NBC decided to be this stupid the last time.

I, for one, am not ready for my third course to be the last I have with Mr. Lecter. We haven’t even gotten to Silence Of The Lambs yet.

Categories: Commentary