Shemar The Merrier!

I am immensely proud of the results I was able to deliver during my time at Sony.  Under the management team in place at the time, the company earned a reputation for finding ways to save more than its fair share of shows that were teetering on the verge of cancellation, time and again displaying an enviable tenacity and penchant for using relevant data and curating fandom to earn last-minute renewals or even find ways of moving projects away from those that rejected them to new homes.

So when the new management team was confronted with its first such challenge last year when CBS decided to part ways with S.W.A.T. after six seasons, I knew there was more than smoke to the fire that erupted in the wake of the news.  We devoted an entire musing to how it unfolded and exploded eleven months ago, trying to diffuse the initial claims that the show was a victim of something else besides pure economics.

And then, a mere two days later, the show was indeed renewed for what was at the time supposed to be a closure-inducing shorter order, with the network and studio leaders each taking a victory lap when the order was announced.  As yet another musing recapped, the decision was based as much on the failure and cost of a struggling rookie from another outside supplier.

What was learned later on was that despite the public image of solidarity between CBS topper Amy Reisenbach and Sony’s newly installed president Katherine Pope, Pope initially rejected the short order, citing the economic challenges of monetizing production costs over fewer episodes.  It was indeed co-showrunner Shawn Ryan who initiated the resurrected discussions with Reisenbach and challenged Pope to step up and support his show and, for that matter, him.  Ryan is one the studio’s most auspiced and effective in-house producers, and he had only weeks earlier set a record for initial viewership of an original Netflix hour with his NIGHT AGENT series.  And with that favorable relationship, Sony was able to sell Netflix the entire S.W.A.T. library, thus giving them what they seem to crave the most–a successful procedural with a decent amount of episodes to happily keep subscribers within its walled garden.

Flash forward to this week.  As the final episode was in production, it appears Reisenbach and her team were reviewing the show’s performance and, lo and behold, not only was S.W.A.T. holding its own it was, in fact, even improved over where it was last year, when a smaller uptick helped justify its comeback.  And it gave DEADLINE’s intrepid Nellie Andreeva a chance to offer a truly celebratory story yesterday:

S.W.A.T. is not ending after all. Beating the odds a second time, the action drama has been renewed for the 2024-25 season, with Shemar Moore set to continue as star and executive producer. I hear Season 8 will consist of 22 episodes.

The news comes a year after S.W.A.T. was canceled before the decision was dramatically reversed a couple of days later with a renewal for a seventh and final season. This time, the network is not boxing itself in and is leaving the door open to more by not branding 8 as the series’ final season.  As to what prompted CBS’ decision to extend S.W.A.T.’s run, like with the un-cancellation last year, it was based on the series’ continuing ratings strength on both linear and streaming. The series is a time period winner in viewers and a top 20 primetime broadcast drama, ranking No. 17 overall season to date with 6.1 million in Nielsen Most Current data. With Live+35-day multi-platform viewing, S.W.A.T. delivers 8.8 million viewers an episode and is up 11% year over year.

That kind of ratings parlance is network-speak, so it’s not surprising that the more effusive quotes were attributed to Reisenbach:

“Here at CBS, we always ‘stay liquid’ and love a good dramatic twist, especially when it leads to an eighth season of S.W.A.T.!,” said Amy Reisenbach, president of CBS Entertainment. “The show continues to resonate with viewers thanks to our talented cast led by Shemar Moore and our amazing writers and producers who keep the show relevant and action-packed. We’re very pleased to renew it again and incredibly grateful to our partners at Sony, CBS Studios and Shemar for working so closely with us to bring it back for next season.”

Pope’s comments seemed to concede that it was the strength of how other people and entities in her purview felt rather than her own emotions:

“Led by the unstoppable Shemar Moore, S.W.A.T. has captivated viewers since its premiere in 2017, and with every renewal, we are amazed at how passionate and dedicated the fans of this show are,” said Katherine Pope, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios.

It’s not unusual for new blood to be less enthusiastic about what they inherit rather than what they curate.  Pope and her team of carefully selected loyalists have effectively replaced almost every key decision-maker I worked with, and they clearly are focused on opportunities and businesses beyond the world of aging broadcast series.  The fact that S.W.A.T. is helping to keep the coiffeurs filled enough to allow them to focus on such experiments seems to be something they tend to admit only when directly questioned.  Or confronted, as Ryan did last spring.

But this time around, with the timing less pressure-filled and the order large enough, there was no practical reason for Pope and her peeps to say anything but the obligatory (t)hank you to Amy Reisenbach and our partners at CBS for continuing to believe in the show and the incredible work of the cast and crew.

So the results are once again showing that Sony has once again found a way to pull victory from the jaws of defeat and, in some folks’ minds, turn water into wine.  Witness how elated Moore’s social media comments were:

S.W.A.T. IS BACK! BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! I am so proud of this show and the people and variables it has taken to make this show what it is and has become. I am so grateful to the fans around the world who have supported, watched, enjoyed and rooted for S.W.A.T.! It is entirely because of this support that S.W.A.T. will continue to shine! 

But I’d offer that in this case, he direct his paeans more toward the truer source of said miracles.  And not necessarily at the Pope.

Until next time….

 

 

Leave a Comment