CBS has announced the renewals of both their Summer sci fi shows Extant and Under the Dome for a second and third season respectively. The latter renewal was expected as that show performed well enough during its second season run even if it did not reach the same ratings highs it achieved during its first year. Extant, though, was anything but a lock for a second season. That series debuted in January to decent but not spectacular numbers even though it sported big names Halle Berry as the series lead and Steven Spielberg as executive producer (his name is also attached to Under the Dome). But the show slipped quickly in the ratings and found itself pulling lower numbers than some Summer repeats by the end of its first season. But both shows have a partnership with Amazon that allows that service exclusive streaming rights in exchange for picking up part of the production costs. I didn’t know if that would be enough for Extant, though, to offset its low ratings and I was sure that CBS would not bring it back for a second Summer run but considered it possible that Amazon might keeping it going as one of its original series. Apparently, though, both Extant and Under the Dome also have international deals as well that, with the Amazon partnership, that make them “profitable even before they air” according to Hollywood Reporter. That was enough to get them both the greenlight for renewals and they will return with new episodes in 2015.
This is actually a milestone in that it gives a clear example of some of the changes we have been expecting where a show’s fate is not dictated strictly by the Nielsen ratings. Without the partnership and international deals, Extant would have surely been cancelled and CBS might have thought twice about bringing Under the Dome back as well based on its tapering numbers during the season. Deals like this might be key to more shows going forward and could make the Nielsen ratings less of a factor in determining their success. I will be monitoring similar partnerships with upcoming shows and will note the ones that have factors like this which can impact their renewal/cancellation prospects.