Already a member? Log In

Netflix, NBC, and What Makes a TV Hit in 2021: A ‘Manifest’-o

J.R. Ramirez as Jared Vazquez, Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone, Matt Long as Zeke Landon, Ellen Tamaki as Drea Mikami in a scene from Manifest episode 313
Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC
Matthew Belloni
August 29, 2021

When the epitaph for broadcast television is written, it won’t be streaming video that is credited as the killer; it’ll be the networks’ inability to adapt to an on-demand ecosystem and co-exist with (and even capitalize on) what streaming does well. The Manifest situation perfectly illustrates the limitations of the current thinking.

As most TV insiders know, there are three ways that television series make money: the initial run, off-network domestic sales (like syndication or, more likely these days, a streaming deal, or sometimes both), and international. And as even my mother knows, the audience for all television, and especially for scripted dramas, has been shifting from linear to on-demand streaming.