As we predicted, FOX has renewed their SciFi thriller, Fringe, for a fifth and final season despite its continuing declining ratings. FOX announced Thursday that they had ordered 13 episodes of the fan-favorite to wrap up the series next season, though no details have been provided as of yet for a season premiere date (see the full press release below).
Despite the naysayers, this comes as no surprise to us whatsoever simply due to the fact that against all odds, FOX renewed the struggling series for a fourth season last year after being dumped into the Friday night “death slot” and the reasons for this are pretty basic.
The key for a bubble-show like Fringe with a small but dedicated fanbase is getting to a fourth season, not a fifth. A fifth season for any show like Fringe is almost a guarantee if they can get to that magical fourth season. Why? Well, if the network thinks a fourth season is viable despite mediocre ratings, it’s only because the production studio is giving the farm away to get it to the fifth season.
Five is the magic number for scripted television for several reasons. The first is the most talked about and that is getting a show to that magic 100 episode mark which makes the show more valuable for syndication. At the end of this season, Fringe will have 87 episodes under its belt, 87 plus the 13 ordered for season five and voila… 100 episodes. This doesn’t mean a whole lot to FOX, but it does mean a lot to Warner Bros. Television who is far more concerned about the success of the show after its original run than it is while it’s in first-run. Because of that, Warner Bros. and FOX have been in negotiations since January to lower the series licensing fee (what Warner Bros. charges FOX to air each episode) so FOX could mitigate their losses on it and though no details have been released as to what was negotiated, we can guarantee you that Warner Bros. is practically giving Fringe away for the final season. This should come as a surprise to no one because it’s exactly what Warner had to do last year to get FOX to agree to a fourth season.
And U.S. syndication isn’t the only outlet for Warner Bros. to profit off of the franchise. Fringe is currently shown in 30 countries worldwide and with 100 episodes it makes it a very attractive property globally for U.S. and international cable and satellite services and smaller local markets.
There is also the issue of home video sales but even more important is digital distribution through Video On Demand services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. None of these services offer instant access to Fringe to their subscribers (Hulu offers the last five episodes of the current season but that means a whole lot of nothing because you can get that from FOX’s website for free) and that’s because there’s no deal in place between Warner and these services and that is a huge key for future profitability, especially for Fringe which has typically been the largest gainer in Live +7 DVR viewings over the past four years.
Fringe has become a DVR show which means that it’s become a VOD show. That and the fact that science fiction and serialized drama is incredibly popular on these digital services makes it ideal for those providers to add it to their stable. This means non-exclusive deals for Warner Bros. with multiple providers globally ans potentially bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars for the foreseeable future for a product they don’t even have to spend money on to produce any more.
So the lesson to be learned here, again, is that it’s a whole new world out there when it comes to the television industry. Here we have a series that was given two additional seasons despite miserable ratings and the fact that the network airing it is losing money on it and why? Because the production company sees the bigger picture of its potential profitability and is willing to take a hit on it now in order to reap the benefits from it in the future, Nielsen ratings be damned.
Via Press Release:
Thursday, April 26, 2012
HOT FROM FOX…
FOX BOOKS “FRINGE” FOR A FIFTH AND FINAL CHAPTER
13 Episodes Ordered for 2012-2013 Season
FOX has picked up FRINGE for a fifth and final 13-episode season, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.
“FRINGE is a remarkably creative series that has set the bar as one of television’s most imaginative dramas. Bringing it back for a final 13 allows us to provide the climactic conclusion that its passionate and loyal fans deserve,” said Reilly “The amazing work the producers, writers and the incredibly talented cast and crew have delivered the last four seasons has literally been out of this world. Although the end is bittersweet, it’s going to be a very exciting final chapter.”
FRINGE co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams added, “We are thrilled and beyond grateful that FOX – and our fans – have made the impossible possible: FRINGE will continue into a fifth season that will allow the series to conclude in a wild and thrilling way. All of us at Bad Robot are forever indebted to our viewers and the amazingly supportive FOX network for allowing the adventures of Fringe Division to not only continue, but to resolve in a way that perfectly fits the show.”
“This pickup means the world (both of them) to us, because we love sharing these stories with our enthusiastic fans,” added FRINGE showrunners and executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. “On behalf of the cast and crew, we applaud our fans and FOX for allowing us to imagine the impossibilities together for so long. Season Five is going to be a conclusive thrill ride for all of us.”
FRINGE’s compelling fourth season concludes with three all-new FRINGE Friday episodes in a row, counting down to the two-part season finale on Friday, May 4 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) and Friday, May 11 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). In “Worlds Apart,” airing Friday, April 27 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), team members on both sides, including Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson), continue to fight for a common cause, and there are shocking developments tied to the Cortexiphan children.
Created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, FRINGE is produced by Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman and Joe Chappelle serve as executive producers, while Kurtzman, Orci and Akiva Goldsman are consulting producers. Additionally, Pinkner and Wyman serve as the series’ showrunners. “Like” FRINGE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fringe. Follow the series on Twitter @fringeonfox and join the conversation at #Fringe.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Full episodes of FRINGE are available for viewing at www.fox.com and www.hulu.com. For episodic and gallery photos and for more information, please visit http://foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z2z2z248.]