When Hannibal was officially canceled by NBC after three years straight of low ratings that failed to improve with a move to the summer line-up, it seemed like there was still hope to be had that season three wouldn’t be the last we saw of everyone’s favorite fictional cannibal. After all, it's not unheard of for canceled shows to be given new life with other outlets.
Sadly, that hope was delivered a major blow today after some disappointing words from showrunner Bryan Fuller. According to the man himself, the two outlets that seemed most likely to pick up the show have both passed on taking on a potential fourth season for their respective digital outlets.
Fuller delivered the news on Twitter, in response to a fan who had asked about Hannibal's fate.
Of the two streaming services, Amazon seemed like the most likely place for the show to live as the company already owned the exclusive streaming rights to Hannibal in the U.S., and this current issue of the NBC cancelation is all about the show currently lacking a U.S. licensor.
Hannibal has always been an odd show from a production stand-point. Ultimately, NBC was putting very little money into the show in order to air it; Hannibal is an international production being sold off to various territories in order to pay for the production itself. For NBC, the show was merely just another acquisition, which means it wasn’t pouring a lot of money into Hannibal in the first place - which is why the show lasted as long as it did on network television. What Hannibal needs right now is a new U.S. distributor. Whoever picks it up will, most likely, be doing so under the same deal NBC had.
Many were working under the assumption that Hannibal’s audience was larger than it is in the ratings because much of its audience was streaming the show in time-delayed viewing on Amazon. However, with Amazon passing, it seems very likely that the company looked at the data it had on the show’s existing first two seasons and decided it wasn't worth investing more money. Perhaps Hannibal’s audience is indeed smaller than anyone expected – even with streaming being factored in.
Netflix passing makes much more sense. The streaming service doesn't have any data, other than the Nielsen ratings, to use as a basis for a decision. Netflix may have been able to look at streaming data from NBC, but the important data that Amazon has is something Amazon isn't going to reveal to its main competitor. As we've previously discussed, these streaming outlets don’t reveal viewership to anyone, including the producers of their actual content. Given that lack of data, it would have been risky for Netflix to pick up the show when it's unclear what the company would be getting for its dollar. Netflix would also have to negotiate the U.S. streaming rights away from Amazon, which is a whole other issue entirely.
Is Hannibal season 4 going to happen? Perhaps, but its chances just diminished severely with today’s news. Besides Yahoo and Hulu, it doesn’t seem like there are many places left for the show to go.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.
Source: Bryan Fuller