It appears that Netflix is helping short-lived shows get proper (or at least something close to proper) endings, whether directly or indirectly.
As previously reported, Netflix is bringing back AMC's The Killing for a six-episode season.
This is a rather interesting example of how Netflix is playing a role in the content originating on other networks.
Earlier this year ahead of The Killing's third season, news came out that Netflix would stream episodes in the UK and Ireland the day after they premiered int he U.S. on AMC, pretty much like they did with Breaking Bad. This was the result of a deal, which would also bring the season to Netflix in the U.S. just three months after the last episode aired, which is a great deal sooner than Netflix usually gets TV show seasons (it's currently available for streaming).
It was actually the deal with Netflix that enabled the third season to even be created. AMC had initially decided to cancel the show after the second season, but Fox Television Studios made a deal with Netflix in March, which would see Netflix become the exclusive subscription-based streamer of the series. The money from that deal was what made the third season possible.
Now, we have Netflix bringing back the show for a fourth season on its own. This will be the final season. That means they can give the show a conclusion.
Interestingly, Netflix's influence on the conclusions of shows is even further reaching than the episodes it's ordering on its own.
Forbes contributor Merrill Barr wrote an interesting piece about how this works, specifically discussing The CW's decision to order a final six-episode season of Nikita.
You may or may not recall, but Netflix and The CW struck a long-term deal back in 2011, which would see Netflix streaming The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, 90210, Supernatural, One Tree Hill, Ringer, Hart of Dixie, The Secret Circle, and yes, Nikita. The deal was to last through the 2014-2015 seasons of the shows.
Barr explains, "The deal allows the digital network to broadcast shows for up to four years following the end of their initial run (a show cancelled in 2013doesn't have to renew contracts until 2017). For a network like The CW a billion dollars is as cool as Justin Timberlake makes it seem, but it's money that comes with a (unwritten) stipulation: the acquisitions must end with true conclusions."
He notes that Netflix's business model (for TV shows, at least) is based on binge watching, and that shows with no conclusions are less valuable to it, because people don't watch them as much. A lot of people know when shows are cancelled, and don't like the idea of beginning a story they won't be able to finish. In other words, it's in Netflix's best interest to have shows that have conclusions.
If a network (like The CW) wants to get more money out of its content through distribution deals like it has with Netflix, it better make its content worth paying for, and in many cases, that's going to mean having a conclusion to a show.
The third season of Nikita became available for streaming on Netflix a month ago.