Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have been renewed for a sixth season, but it's time for the show to leave ABC. Back in September 2017, Jeph Loeb insisted that "ABC is always going to be our mothership." The fundamental reason he offered back then was a simple one; "It is a Disney-owned network. We are a Disney-owned corporation and we’re a good fit for each other."
The network really doesn't seem too interested in Marvel, though. ABC canceled Agent Carter in order to move Hayley Atwell on to another series, and passed up on Marvel's Most Wanted even though it had already been set up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3. It took an intervention from Disney to get S.H.I.E.L.D. renewed for a fifth season, and Season 6 has been cut down to only 13 episodes. Last year there were reports that ABC wants to produce a "Jessica Jones-esque" female-led Marvel series, but in January this year ABC head Channing Dungey confirmed there would be no new Marvel TV shows in 2018. Dungey candidly admitted that Marvel "developed a couple things this season that we don’t think are going to end up going forward."
It's hard not to conclude that this particular partnership really isn't working out for Marvel. Marvel and ABC may both be Disney-owned, but that clearly isn't enough. It's time for Marvel Television - and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in particular - to move on.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Should Move To The Disney Streaming Service
In November last year, amid reports that New Warriors had been pulled from Freeform, it was reported that Marvel is "no longer able to sell to outside companies." In other words, they claimed that Disney had barred Marvel from approaching networks and streaming services not also owned by the House of Mouse. Marvel denied this, but it's worth noting that no new Marvel TV ventures are known to have been discussed with any other network or service since November.
Should this report be true, it's not hard to understand Disney's motives. Disney is currently developing a streaming service that they hope will rival the streaming giant Netflix. "It has to become the destination to watch Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar products," CEO Bob Iger told Wall Street executives last week (as reported by Variety). "That means ultimately weaning ourselves of product being available any other place except for (first-run) linear channels." New Marvel shows are thus expected to debut on the Disney streaming service, which will launch in 2019.
The close of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 would be the perfect opportunity for Marvel to transition to the Disney streaming service. Live ratings of S.H.I.E.L.D. aren't great, but the series performs well in terms of DVR, which makes it ideally suited to the new service. S.H.I.E.L.D. has a loyal, stable audience, and a dedicated fanbase on social media. Those viewers would likely follow the show over on to the Disney streaming service, giving it a nice boost in terms of subscribers. Meanwhile, that move could potentially keep Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going, and free the show up from further interference from ABC. It would also establish the streaming service as the new "mothership" of Marvel TV, especially if S.H.I.E.L.D. was accompanied by New Warriors.
ABC has been the home of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for five seasons, and the network has greenlit a sixth. Once that's over, though, it's really time for Marvel to move on. The new Disney streaming service will give Marvel a chance to be a trailblazer once again, with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hopefully serving as only one of many Marvel shows that find their way there.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s season 5 finale "The End" airs Friday, May 18th @ 9 PM on ABC.