“‘Now Apocalypse’ [was a] great show, as we all know and saw. It was really … a good experiment,” COO Jeffrey Hirsch said Friday afternoon. “But we have made a decision not to bring it back.”
The genre-bending half-hour series averaged just over 89,000 viewers in linear viewership over Season 1, but it was meant to serve younger viewers on Starz’s streaming audience. No specific ratings were provided for the series on Friday, though Hirsch did say Araki’s show did not serve the network’s core audience of female viewers. IndieWire has reached out to Araki for comment.
Attracting the female demo was also a factor in “Counterpart” being canceled. “Counterpart, again, [it was a] great show with our partners at MRC. Justin [Marks] is a great writer, and we really, really liked working with him,” Hirsch said. “[But] it was a very complicated show, [and] it was a very male show. We picked that show up a few years ago with a two-season commitment really before we honed into this premium female strategy. So, just like ‘Now Apocalypse,’ when we look at bringing the shows back, it really has to serve that core premium female audience. If it doesn’t, then we have to find something else that does.”
To kick off the executive session, Hirsch outlined how Starz has found success in courting “traditionally underserved audiences” which “always included female audiences,” but is focusing even more on women in the future.
“Starz delivers the highest composition of female viewership in premium cable, 18 and older,” Hirsch said, adding that such high viewership is in part due to hiring women in creative leadership roles at the company. “65 percent of the leadership roles in our series — meaning showrunners, directors, and writers — are held by women.”
“Power,” “Vida,” and “The Spanish Princess” are all created and written by women, as well as upcoming original series like “Pea Valley” and “High Town.”
Speaking to IndieWire in May, Araki said he was already writing Season 2 in the hopes Starz would order more episodes. “Season 1 was crazy, but Season 2 is a whole other level,” he said. “I don’t want to repeat Season 1, I want to go to the next level. And that’s what the universe of the show allows.”
Another Sundance entry from Starz was “America to Me,” the critically acclaimed docuseries from Steve James that was snubbed at the Emmys and far from a ratings juggernaut during its 10-week run. Despite the challenges Starz has faced breaking into unscripted series, Hirsch said they would continue to pursue the genre.
“We were lucky to get [‘America to Me.’] We probably scheduled it a little wrong, but it was a great show for us,” Hirsch said. “We’ll continue to lean into that genre. We will always have some kind of unscripted swim lanes behind our core originals.”
Hirsch also gave an update on the announced “John Wick” TV series, “The Continental,” which focuses on the hotel for assassins that serves as a safe space from their high-intensity profession.
“‘The Continental’ will be [set] way earlier in the history of the hotel,” Hirsch said. “It will be a fresh look at The Continental and how that came into being. […] It’s a great franchise. We’re excited about bringing that show to the network.”
In terms of timing, Hirsch said the series would “most likely” debut after the already announced fourth film, which is slated for 2021. He would not commit to how much Keanu Reeves would be involved, though early reports said he could guest star in the series.