Fans vs. Networks: Who should be doing the promotional work?

Photo credit: Freeform / John Medland, acquired from Walt Disney TV Press Site
Photo credit: Freeform / John Medland, acquired from Walt Disney TV Press Site /

Fan campaigns rule the world nowadays with fandom becoming a crucial element to dictating which tv shows live and die. But do networks exploit fan passion?

We’re living in an exciting time for television right now. In this day and age, TV shows that were canceled before they got the chance to grow can get another chance. Series are saved and shuffled between networks. Cancellation doesn’t equate to a death sentence anymore.

But who is responsible for getting shows rescued most of the time? The fans. It’s incredible to see an outpouring of love and hope from fans who are desperate to get their fave series picked up for another season. Look no further than the Shadowhunters fanbase, who even managed to crowdfund a billboard for their cause.

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Except, that’s sort of strange, isn’t it? To have fans doing the work of the network. Why is the onus of marketing suddenly on fan passion now?

As with all good things, there comes a dark side, too.

I think about series like One Day at a Time, Timeless, and the recently canceled Whiskey Cavalier. In all three cases, passionate fanbases lead to these shows being revived or being heavily shopped around.

Thus far, ODAAT has not been saved from the cancellation heap, but its fans and stars have continued to rally around the sitcom. Whiskey Cavalier is the latest show to potentially get “uncancelled.” TVLine released an exclusive today detailing ABC’s potential decision.

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One Day at a Time / Photo by Mike Yarish / Netflix — TV Shows — Acquired via Netflix Media Center /

But the cynical part of me has to wonder, is this what networks wait for every season? Did ABC cancel Whiskey Cavalier knowing it had a passionate fanbase who would beg and plead for it to be saved, with the hopes this outcry and controversy would boost ratings for a second season?

In recent years, it appears networks have realized they don’t have to pay money in extravagant marketing plans if they know their fans will do it for them. Several shows get bumps from word-of-mouth. Look at the CW series like All American and Riverdale.

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All American — “Championships”– Image Number: ALA116a_0026b.jpg — Pictured: Taye Diggs as Billy — Photo: Tyler Golden/The CW — TV Shows — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved /

When I first started reviewing All American, it was barely getting hits but since it has begun streaming on Netflix, my articles about it have been trending for weeks. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the TV gods. They’re fully aware of what fans can do when they set their minds to it, and therefore it can be capitalized on. Riverdale’s ratings skyrocketed in Season 2 due to its exposure on streaming.

As Neilsen ratings become increasingly outdated, media companies have taken to using fans to do their research for them. Look at the way these professional “save our show” campaigns are structured, often they want to know who you are, where you’re from, what your personal stake in a series is. They want to know who is watching their show; they want to know their advertisement market.

I don’t point this stuff out to say people shouldn’t campaign for their favorite shows, on the contrary, this points to the fact networks truly do care about social media chatter and it’s important to keep shows on the air.

Next. TV Glut: The era of cancellations is upon us. dark

But I do sometimes worry about how the future of television will look if it becomes more about fan’s responsibility than the network’s actually shelling out the cash necessary to properly promote their shows, particularly those with diverse casts and original stories.

What do you think about fan campaigns? Do you think networks use them to their benefit? What series are do you hope get rescued from the 2018-2019 season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!