Rob Golum & Christopher Palmeri
Some of the most popular and acclaimed shows on TV will air their final episodes over the next few days, including HBO’s Succession and Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Yellowjackets, a hit for Paramount Global’s Showtime, releases its season finale Friday. Apple TV+ will drop the last episode of its soccer comedy Ted Lasso on May 31. Star Jason Sudeikis has said this season will be its last.
The finales come at a bad time for the TV business. A month-long strike by the Writers Guild of America has halted work on scripts. Big media companies like Walt Disney and Warner Bros Discovery, the parent of HBO, have been cancelling shows and slashing their programming budgets as they try to wring profits from their big investments in streaming services. Streaming, meanwhile, makes it much easier for consumers to cancel services like Paramount+ or Apple TV+ once their favorite shows are over.
The companies have been raising their prices and, in the case of Netflix, trying to get customers who share their accounts with others to pay $8 more a month.
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“It’ll be interesting to see what happens to churn,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst with SVB MoffettNathanson. “You need a constant supply of fresh content. It’s easier when you’re rolling out a third or fourth season.”
No one knows how long the writers strike will last — or whether they’ll be joined by directors and actors, whose contracts expire next month. FilmLA, which administers permits for TV and film shoots in Los Angeles, said its project count had fallen 52 per cent in mid-May compared with same period last year.
“Most of the shows slated for the next few weeks have been in the can for a while,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “If the strike drags on for two more months, there will be a gap.”
Succession, a drama about the infighting at a family media empire, has recently been enjoying series-high ratings. Barry, which features comedian Bill Hader as a hit man, will also conclude its four-season run on HBO this weekend. Warner Bros said it has four other shows garnering more than 15 million viewers an episode, including House of the Dragon and The Last of Us.
Replacing a hit is tough though. AMC Networks has lost nearly half its value since November 2022, when it aired the final episode of The Walking Dead, the zombie thriller that ran for 11 seasons on its namesake channel. While it has a number of spinoffs in place, prime-time viewers of AMC are down 18 per cent to 415,000 nightly this season to date, according to Nielsen data. bloomberg