A few weeks ago, NBC gut the fans of Hannibal with the news that the beloved series would not be ordered for a fourth season. Around the same time, the peacock also revealed that newcomer Aquarius, starring David Duchovny, would be renewed for a second season on the network. However, the story for neither series ends there.
Today, it was revealed both - yes, both - shows would be moving to the always undesirable Saturday night lineup for the remainder of the summer starting with the episodes set to air this week.
Beginning this week, 'Dateline Thursday Mysteries' will air from 9-11 PM on Thursdays. On Saturday, 'Aquarius' will air from 9-10 and 'Hannibal' from 10-11 PM.
Now, the Hannibal move seems pretty obvious. The show’s ratings have only declined in its move to summer, where the hope was its low ratings would be seen as more favorable to advertisers in the less competitive June-August season. Unfortunately, the only way Hannibal was going to survive on NBC was if, at the very least, it didn’t dip beyond the lows of season 2 in its new timeslot. Ultimately, the show is a dead-horse in the prime slot of Thursdays at 10pm where Dateline has the ability and track record to score higher ratings for the network. The real news here, however, is the Aquarius move, which has been a strange show monetarily from the very beginning.
Originally, NBC made headlines when it opted to place the entire first season of the series online for a limited time the day of its season premiere. Since then, NBC has been heard touting the digital success of the series nearly nonstop. In fact, it was this non-linear success that NBC cited as the main reason for bringing the show back for a sophomore run… and this is what explains the show’s Saturday move.
The big difference between Hannibal and Aquarius is the latter is a Universal production while the former is an international co-production owned by Gaumont International Television. Because of this, NBC has no opportunity beyond the live airings to make money off Hannibal. However, the digital performance of Aquarius ultimately feeds money back into the same place: NBC.
The reason the show’s moving to Saturday despite its renewal is because it’s not performing well on Thursdays, and since most of the program’s audience is coming in through internet based outlets, it really doesn’t matter where NBC airs it at this point. It makes more sense to just dump the remainder of the season on Saturday where it’s ratings can be deemed harmless so that its Thursday slot can be taken up by more Dateline which will, again, outperform it overall.
From UnREAL to Mr. Robot and Aquarius, summer 2015 has been a crazy one for the world of television when it comes to renewals. At this point, it seems that as long as your airing network is also under the same umbrella as your producing studio, you’re nearly guaranteed a pick-up regardless of how well you perform in traditional ratings. However, change in Hollywood is always slow, so don’t expect this to mean an overall shift in attitude moving forward. It’s hard to imagine this business model happening the same way for shows set for premiere this coming fall and spring.
Aquarius and Hannibal air Saturdays @9pm and 10pm, respectively, on NBC.