In the world of cable, early renewals are a big trend – especially when it comes to premium stations like HBO and Showtime. Now, it appears Starz can be added to the list as it has renewed its forthcoming series, Ash vs. Evil Dead, for a second season that will air in 2016.
At the moment, the network hasn’t revealed how many episodes the season will consist of. Most likely, that determination will be made after the viewership data of season 1 can be analyzed. It could be another 10, or it could be increased to a standard count of 13.
Here is the official statement regarding Ash vs. Evil Dead's season 2 renewal from Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz:
“One season isn’t enough to satisfy the fans’ two decade-long appetite for more Ash. The early fan and press support, along with the international broadcaster demand for more story have made it clear that the adventures of Ash Williams can’t end with season one.”
While this is no doubt welcomed news for die-hard Evil Dead fans, it's doesn't come as a complete surprise. From Boss to Spartacus, Starz has always made early renewals of new shows a thing - before their series premiere. Odds are good that the reasoning for it has to do with what the channel is trying to do as a business.
In the world of premium cable, Starz is the smallest game in town. Even Cinemax has begun surpassing it thanks to the likes of Strike Back and The Knick. The network – which is also not owned by a major conglomerate like HBO (Time Warner) and Showtime (CBS Corporation) – needs shows that are going to make people want to buy the channel in order to tune in. Part of that begins with handing down early renewals, so viewers know a particular show isn’t going to vanish after season 1 just because of lower ratings (though, as evidenced by the latest news on HBO's The Brink, even a renewal isn’t a guarantee anymore).
In addition, Ash vs. Evil Dead is really a first kind of a show for Starz. It’s the first time the network has ever had something people were anticipating in droves. Sure, many were intrigued by the idea of Kelsey Grammer on Boss, and Spartacus did grow into a show with an insanely loyal base, but there has never been a program on Starz that was almost certain to draw a crowd pre-premiere. It also helps the buzz out of the pilot screening at the 2015 NYCC has been quite positive - as have early reviews.
Having seen the first two episodes, I can say that Ash is just as good as advertised (if not better). It’s a show that’s going to find its audience very quickly and, most likely, live a very long and prosperous life in the years to come. The Starz renewal may not be much of a surprise, but it sure does add confidence to that idea.
Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres Saturday, October 31st, 2015 at 9/8c on Starz.