Earlier this week, NBC ripped out the hearts of many TV fans when it announced Hannibal would not be going forward at the network. By a large majority, the show’s cancellation had to do with the fact that NBC didn’t actually own the series, therefore it received none of the money Hannibal was earning off things like its exclusive streaming deal with Amazon. However, this thought process is what also makes today’s news concerning the network’s latest summer offering, Aquarius, all that more confusing.
While NBC may not own this show, either, it appears that its online views are enough to garner its return. It’s now been confirmed that the network’s picked up the David Duchovny drama for a second season.
Per NBC, 'Aquarius' delivered the most-watched first 24 hours for a summer series premiere ever on NBC.com and the NBC App and helped NBC Digital (NBC.com, the NBC app and Hulu) to log its biggest summer weekend ever. Through 28 days, it’s the #2 most-viewed drama premiere ever on NBC.com and the NBC App, behind only 'The Blacklist.'
'Aquarius' is also delivering an upscale audience, indexing at a 105 among adults 18-49 living in homes with $100K+ incomes
Most recently, it was this kind of data that pushed BBC America’s Orphan Black through the path that lead to an early season 4 renewal. While NBC isn’t listed as a production company on Aquarius (which would mean it would be receiving a cut of the backend), having the show deliver on the “upscale” audience means its ads are ultimately worth more per 30 seconds than some other programs with higher ratings. In addition, like major streamers such as Netflix, NBC isn’t actually divulging how the show did on NBC.com, so they can really say whatever they want and have it sound believable.
Of course this is probably going to lead many to wonder why these kind of tactics weren’t used to keep Hannibal around, and the reasoning has to do with the fact that Hannibal’s chances to capitalize on Aquarius’ model came too little too late. The Hannibal audience was already accustomed to not watching the show live and just waiting to be able to binge on the full show via Amazon a few months later. Clearly, seeing that’s where Aquarius was headed, NBC made sure to build the period drama from the ground up to take advantage of the bingeing nature of the modern audience in a way that benefited NBC rather than its competitors.
Overall, Aquarius is a mediocre drama; it’s nothing to write home about. But if it can survive with the numbers it has under its “newly” developed business model, then perhaps other Hannibal-type shows in the future might also have a chance on broadcast after all, regardless of their ownership status with the network that airs them.
Aquarius airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.