Six Reasons Why The CW Renewed ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for Season 4
So the good news is in, as Beauty and the Beast has been renewed for Season 4! Yes, we did it again, Beasties, as our Little Show That Could has become the Little Show That Does. And yet, one of the bigger questions in the industry right now, particularly for people who don’t follow the show, is…well, why Beauty and the Beast? Sure, the ratings have never been great, per se. But there is clear value in Beauty and the Beast coming back. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?
I suppose the biggest reason the show is likely coming back is CW President Mark Pedowitz. When he stepped up and took the reins of the network, Beauty and the Beast was one of the first shows he gave the greenlight. Essentially, it was a passion project for him. As an example, NBC president Angela Bromstad was intent on having Law & Order break Gunsmoke‘s 20-season record for longest-running primetime drama, but negotiations with executive producer Dick Wolf broke down at the 11th hour, resulting in a cancellation before it reached Season 21. Basically, if Angela Bromstad were still president at NBC, and a deal had been worked out with Dick Wolf, the original Law & Order would probably be nearing its 25th season right now. But breaking the record wasn’t an imperative for Wolf, since he had other shows in the NBC family to which he could dedicate his attention, such as the more lucrative, highly-rated SVU (he also now has Chicago Fire and Chicago PD to beef up his NBC resume, and rumors are now circulating for a possible limited series return for Law & Order in 2015. But I digress…).
So what does this have to do with Beauty and the Beast?
I think it’s analogous to why Beauty and the Beast remains on The CW. Mark Pedowitz has wanted the show to succeed, and he may even want to help Brad Kern fulfill his five-season vision for the show, similar to how Bromstad wanted to help Law & Order get over the Gunsmoke hurdle. But unlike Bromstad, I don’t think Pedowitz will have to deal with an executive producer who doesn’t seem to care one way or the other if their show stays on the air. Thus, it shouldn’t be so hard to hammer out deals for a new season like it apparently was with Dick Wolf. And that could make sticking with BATB worth it all for CW.
The second huge reason I think the show is sticking around is its strong overseas performance. Put frankly, the show is simply more popular in other countries than it is here. “Beauty And The Beast has done well online and is a big international seller for its studio, CW sibling CBS TV Studios,” Deadline wrote in its renewal notice for Season 4. With each season that brings it closer to that coveted 66-episode milestone for syndication, its value increases. It makes more sense to keep around a known property with 44 episodes under its belt already than to risk ordering an entirely new series that may or may not succeed. If it fails, you’re right back to square one, except this time, you don’t have the proven property with a proven fanbase propping it up.
Which brings me to the third big reason…
The show is one of the more socially-active on TV, owing to a fanbase that shows their passion not just by watching and tweeting, but by organizing charity functions, such as raising $15,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Basically, very few shows on TV have a fanbase this passionate, and while not every one of those fans has a Nielsen box in his or her home (otherwise this show would be doing far better domestically than it is), the social presence still has value to advertisers. Ratings mean arguably less now than at any point in the history of television, since viewers don’t watch TV by traditional means anymore. The notion of “appointment television” is a relic in the age of DVRs and online viewership. So advertisers need to reach out to viewers in other ways, hence all the product placement. When a fanbase is big enough, advertisers will tend to come knocking, trying to figure out a way to maximize its product’s reach. In short, even if you’re not watching the show through traditional means, your viewership still has value to advertisers.
The fourth reason for the renewal is simply cost-effectiveness. With Beauty and the Beast’s renewal, The CW has now picked up NINE dramas for next season. That’s practically an entire fall lineup’s worth. Part of it is keeping with familiar properties like Reign and The 100, while the other half of it is in keeping with proven hits like Supernatural, The Flash, Arrow and The Vampire Diaries. The benefit here is that the network now has to order fewer new programs that may or may not succeed. That means less of an expense for the next season. Granted, it’s a bit of a risk, since there’s no guaranteeing that all of these renewed shows will continue delivering at the same level. If any of these shows end up getting canceled, The CW might have to rush to find quick, cheap, original programming to fill the void. But I think the network is confident enough in the viewership of its lineup that this shouldn’t be as big a concern as it has been in years past.
Fifth reason: those People’s Choice Award wins. Say what you will about how easy it can be for something even reasonably popular to win a People’s Choice Award, but I think the point still stands. The CW isn’t a network that’s in the habit of winning things, so when it does, it’s a REALLY big deal. Case in point, Gina Rodriguez earning the network its first Golden Globe for Jane the Virgin. A big win like that earns the network more eyeballs out of curiosity. And the more eyeballs you have on your network, the more likely those viewers are to sample other programs on the channel. It’s a win-win all-around, particularly if a doubter checks out The CW because they just want to see what all this Beauty and the Beast hullabaloo is all about. Again, there’s value in just about anything that gets people to check out a show/network, provided it isn’t a felony or something.
The sixth and last reason, but not the least, is Mark Pedowitz…again. During the TCA Winter Press Tour in January, Pedowitz told reporters that he intended to move forward with a big summer scripted programming expansion. This would keep The CW with fresh, original programming year-round, allowing it to cut through the low-rated summer doldrums with shows that could keep an audience. Sure, the network will probably continue experimenting with some hit-or-miss new shows like Backpackers or Seed. But it’s easy to imagine that the network will also make summer the home to shows that have a proven audience, but for which there’s no room during the regular season. If nothing else, the possibility of a summer run could be the saving grace for a low-rated show like Hart of Dixie. If nothing else, the move to summer has apparently saved Beauty and the Beast.
So that’s my theory on why Beauty and the Beast is coming back for a season four, and that’s without even getting into the fact that it’s a damn good show. Seriously, while The CW has become the go-to genre network, with one of the more varied programming lineups on network TV, I still feel like it needs to be said that there aren’t many shows like Beauty and the Beast on TV these days. It’s an action-adventure series that can be powerfully dramatic, but without taking itself too seriously. It also has a genuinely likable cast with great chemistry. So while I could probably spend all day dissecting why Beauty and the Beast is coming back, the truth of the matter is that I ultimately don’t care why. I just care that it’s coming back. Congrats again, Beasties. I’m never not amazed. Let the celebration continue.