Will Netflix Continue Reviving Shows Like Lucifer?


As the need for in-house content grows, Netflix may look to revive more shows that have been cancelled by other platforms.

As has been well documented, the “streaming game” is only getting more competitive. Along with  Netflix’s existing competition like Hulu, HBO, CBS All Access, and Amazon Prime Video, Disney is launching Disney+ in November, and Comcast (which owns NBC) announced it will debut a platform its own in 2020. What’s this mean for Netflix? Not only will the fight for subscribers ramp up, Netflix will continue to lose licensed content that it doesn’t own/produce itself. NBC’s The Office is a prime example of this, as Comcast is expected to move the show from Netflix to its new platform.

Of course, every streaming platform is eager for new, in-house content, but Netflix likely has a greater demand than any of them. As its significant supply of licensed content rolls off, it will have to work twice as hard to maintain the depth of its content library. One way to fill this gap is to make new shows/movies from scratch, and Netflix has definitely done plenty of this. It takes a lot of resources and time and creativity to build a new show, however, which is why the streaming platform may choose the “Lucifer route” more in the future.

Lucifer fans rejoiced when Netflix announced it picked up the show for a 4th season (released on May 8). The series previously aired on Fox but was cancelled after the third season due to subpar ratings.

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Existing shows have a whole “show team” already in place. By picking up Lucifer, Netflix avoided the initial investment of putting a show together and could in a sense tell those involved to just “keep doing what they were doing.” Rather than paying to license it, Netflix has been able to fund the show as an in-house piece of content that no other platform can take from it. Additionally, rather than having to grow a fan base from zero, Netflix is betting that existing fans will flock to the new season. The revival of a show can create a lot of energy within even moderate-sized fandoms.

If Netflix needs to add more in-house content quickly, this will probably be the best way to do it. There are plenty of options to choose from, as 107 shows either ended or were cancelled this year alone, according to TV Series Finale.

But of course, this strategy would not be without risks. Shows that get cancelled have theoretically been cancelled for a good reason; they likely had low ratings and the quality of the content may simply have been lacking. For these reasons, it likely wouldn’t be wise for Netflix to invest too heavily in “reviving” shows. Even Lucifer, which seems to have decent critic and fan support, is still at risk of not being renewed by Netflix for a fifth season, according to an interview between TV Line and Lucifer‘s showrunners..

It’s also worth mentioning that “resources” may simply not be an issue for Netflix, which spent a combined $500 million to secure deals with show creators Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and Kenya Barris (according to Deadline and Variety). It’s unclear at what pace these three will be churning out shows, but if its fast enough, this would make the “content issue” a lot smaller.

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Overall, Netflix’s need for in-house content will only increase over time. If it has the resources/patience to invest in almost exclusively original content, then perhaps this is the best route. But if not, Netflix should continue to be on the lookout for cancelled shows with passionate fan bases. If they pick the right ones, there are plenty of potential benefits to this approach.