Less than a month ago, Netflix premiered the Sandman live action series, based on the comic book series of the same name, to incredible viewing numbers, virtually universal praise, massive fan support campaigns, and pretty much every possible metric of success in its favor. It has sustained this level of interest and engagement for weeks in nearly every market that it is available in. The original creator (Neil Gaiman), the series writers, cast, and celebrity fans have all continued to engage with audiences and spread the good word of the stellar show. And yet, the future of the series is questionable as all involved have expressed uncertainty about whether or not the show has been renewed for a second season much less for more down the road.
Now, Netflix has, as it is known to do, cancelled several genre shows (First Kill, Resident Evil, etc.) in their first seasons. This is hardly new, but what is surprising is that many of these shows performed fine bordering on well. I am not going to argue that all, or even most, of the series that Netflix cancelled were incredible programs. To be honest, some were actually kind of bad and cheap, yet they had audiences. They had the numbers on their side as far as any site that monitors those metrics was concerned. There were campaigns that trended on social media across several markets. By any reasonable expectation several of these series seemed destined for at least a second season renewal, and, yet, they did not. Add to that the recent shakeups at HBOMax with their utter removal and omission of several of their own films and series along with their cancellation of various planned projects and the “Golden Age of Streaming” seems to have all but gone.
Yes, the circumstances at HBOMax are unique in the acquisition and merger that just happened, and other streaming services seem to be okay, for the most part, at the moment. However, there does seem to be growing whispers as to the future of these sites with their current market practices and future viability outside the largest ones (Disney, Amazon, Apple). Thus, it is very concerning for artists and fans when one of the best performing series based on one of the most popular existing IP supported by the creator of said IP and celebrities and critics and most of the market is still struggling to get a renewal. Because if something of that caliber is not guaranteed, what hopes do lesser known, less popular, more original works have? And can such a market continue to exist, much less thrive?