A&E cancelled its crime drama “Longmire” due to concerns about its older viewer demographic, which brought in deficient advertising revenue. Its cancellation also reflects an increasing trend toward TV shows in which the network owns at least some stake. Netflix later announced a new season of “Longmire” set for 2015.
“Longmire” was A&E’s most popular scripted drama, averaging 4.6 million viewers per episode. However, the network announced the show’s cancellation in August 2014, citing concerns over the age of the show’s primary demographic. The median viewer age for “Longmire” fell outside the critical 18 to 49 demographic, which is coveted by advertisers. Ad time for older demographics sells for less because older consumers are typically set in their spending patterns. A&E cited revenue concerns, arguing that ad time for “Longmire” wasn’t profitable enough in spite of its substantial number of viewers.
After considerable backlash against the network’s dismissal of older viewers, A&E released a statement claiming that the show’s cancellation had more to do with its ownership status than its audience. “Longmire” was owned entirely by Warner Bros. Television, and A&E simply paid a licensing fee to broadcast the program. This is a common practice in television, but the show’s lower ad revenue wasn’t enough to offset the fee as it typically is with shows that appeal to a younger audience. A&E attributed the show’s cancellation more to the dysfunctional studio revenue model than the older viewer demographic.