What Is The Future Of Marvel TV On ABC?

Marvel TV

Just this morning we reported the news that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be moving to a new time at 10pm on Tuesday nights for its upcoming fourth season. This is an interesting development on a number of levels, but before we get into reading the metaphorical tea leaves, let’s hear what ABC themselves has to say about this.

Per IGN, Channing Dungey, president of ABC, has said that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s newer, later time slot will allow them to “go a little bit edgier, go a little darker and take some risks.” That’s all well and good, and it’s sure to be enough to appease fans who equate the word ‘darker’ with ‘better’ (spoiler: making S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘darker’ and ‘edgier’ will not address any of the show’s underlying problems), but it’s not the full story. Dungey follows that quote with another that, I believe, is much closer to the heart of the matter:

“[This shift is] less about moving S.H.I.E.L.D. to 10 and more feeling we had a big bench of comedies. The schedule kind of fell into place in that way.”

The way I’m reading this is that the Marvel shows, specifically Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., are no longer really ABC’s priority. Because this move to 10 o’clock is not happening in isolation. It comes right on the heels of ABC cancelling Agent Carter and passing on the proposed S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off series Marvel’s Most Wanted. The simple fact of that matter is that these comic book-based shows are generally more expensive than their peers and have never, ever had outstanding ratings. Agent Carter had a fairly dismal 2.7 million weekly viewers in its second season while S.H.I.E.L.D. is averaging about 3.5 million. To put that in perspective, The Muppets (which was cancelled) had 4 million, Fresh Off the Boat has 4.4, Black-ish has 5.9, and Modern Family has nearly 8 million. And all of these comedies cost a fraction of what the effects-heavy Marvel shows do.

It’s the same reason that Supergirl got booted over to The CW even with a weekly average of about 7.7 million viewers. It was just too expensive for CBS to keep on hand. With ABC cancelling or passing on all but one Marvel show, and moving the remaining series to 10pm in favor of comedies, I think the writing is on the walls for the end of Marvel at ABC.

Now, as I’m sure you will all so graciously point out in the comments, this is all purely speculative on my part, and is, in fact, in direct contradiction to what ABC is officially saying. Again from Dungey:

We are in extensive conversations with Marvel. I had a really long talk with Dan Buckley from Marvel last week. We’re very excited about a few things we have in development. We think there’s a long future ahead and excited to explore it together.

But, of course, when speaking to the press she’s not going to say outright that the Marvel TV experiment has failed and throw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. under the bus in the process. She’s going to put on a brave face and say that everything is fine. But I believe that the Marvel TV experiment has failed (at least on network television, the Netflix stuff will continue and we might see more shows showing up on cable like Cloak and Dagger). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will putter along to its conclusion and after that, I doubt we’ll see any new weekly Marvel shows on ABC.

The one potential wildcard here is Damage Control which, unlike the other Marvel shows, would explicitly be a comedy and could perhaps be better suited to the model ABC is pursuing right now. For now, though, I don’t think Marvel has much of a future at ABC, and ultimately, that’s probably for the best. Despite their successes in film and streaming, they’ve never been able to fit comfortably in the space of network television. Cutting their losses and focusing on the things that are actually working is better for everyone.

Source: IGN

David Daut

David Daut

Though his taste has been described as ‘broken’, David maintains that the Fast & Furious series is the greatest cultural achievement of the modern era.

  • Jake Bucsko

    That’s all well and good, and it’s sure to be enough to appease fans who equate the word ‘darker’ with ‘better’

    Those are DCCU fans, they don’t watch SHIELD anyway (dodges incoming missiles)

    • Paulie Gee

      I actually watched both faithfully. And will miss Agent Carter next season.

      • Jake Bucsko

        I know, 99% of us love both companies and don’t hate on one at the expense of the other. That 1% can be awfully loud and obnoxious, though

        • SAMURAI36

          I love when folks try to speak for everyone else. Unless you know every single person who’s a comic fan, then there’s no way you can verify this statement.
          Plus, there’s nothing wrong whatsoever, with liking one over another, just like there’s nothing wrong with liking both. Or liking neither, for that matter.

          • Scott Whalen

            I can’t decide who’s post is dumber, Samurai36 or Wendy Lane.

          • SAMURAI36

            Here’s a hint: it’s the one that has “who’s” instead of “whose”.

    • Paulinho Rampim

      I’m a DC fan but i just L-O-V-E Agents of SHIELD ! And i really think they have larger storylines to go on for more than 4 seasons, the MCU is great because it is very volatile and everything has a consequence so if there’s a chance that the show can go to nerflix or another channel i would support it! It’s a great Show

  • MistaWu

    As long as geeks have torrents, there will be low ratings on shows like these. I wonder how many million people watch AoS the next morning after its edited of all commercials and posted online?

    What the geeks can’t figure out is that if there aren’t enough legit viewers, the show gets canned and we all miss out.

    • Dan Di Cicco

      Me, cos I live in another country 😛 and the marvel TV output is all over the place over here. Still buy em on BD thou for some reason. I hate being a completest :(

    • Paulinho Rampim

      That’s the problem
      With live tv, streaming is a much more appreciated plataform by geeks and more people are going towards it, so channels are loosing their audience because they cant beat this new way of watching tv

      • SAMURAI36

        Streaming is not beating Live TV anytime soon. There simply isn’t enough quality content to stream. Beside, AoShit is on Primetime, FREE TV. Also, watching it on ABC’s streaming app counts towards the ratings as well. People just aren’t watching it.

  • Gabe323

    The Dark Skye Show Season 4

  • Tim Lydon

    She would say the same thing if she was telling the truth as well…soo…..?

    • I would like to emphasize that I’m not accusing her of lying, at least not exactly. I’m sure they are absolutely having discussions about new shows and we’ll probably even see a few of them get pilots ordered.

      Whether or not they actually go to series, well that’s another matter entirely.

  • Joseph

    The problem with Agents of Shield is that they spend all this money on special effects, but they don’t spend any money on hiring GOOD actors that can actually ACT. Can we please hire Chloe Bennet a decent acting coach at the very least? She thinks she can just show up on set and act like her normal everyday self when playing the character of Skye/Daisy. That is NOT acting. That’s just pure laziness. She didn’t even TRY to breathe life into the character. And then she has the audacity to rant and complain about why Marvel hasn’t called her to make a cameo in the Avengers or vice versa. With acting like that, why would anyone call her to do a movie?
    Ok I’m done ranting about this “actress”. She’s not the only bad thing about the show. The writing and plot lines are horrendous as well. Just cancel this horrible show already.

    • Ryan Crowe

      That’s your opinion and you know what they say about opinions right…..

      And I know this will contradict what I just said about opinions but in my opinion half of the best shows on network television this season were Marvel and DC shows (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter, Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Lucifer), I’d have thrown Constantine in there too but that was last season. With the exceptions being The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, 2 Broke Girls, Blindspot, Castle, Limitless, Vikings and Sleepy Hollow.

      • MrCastaigne

        Personally opinion of best does not equate to best in terms of profit and that’s the bottom line.

        • Ryan Crowe

          Nor does best in terms of profit equate to best in terms of a quality show, if it did the entire reality tv genre would never have existed and shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Race, Survivor, Big Brother and The Real World would never have been aired in the first place nevermind still being on the air to this day.

          • MrCastaigne

            Ah but quality is subjective unlike profit.

      • SAMURAI36

        I mostly agree with you. CBTV has indeed been some of the best TV by a wide margin.

  • IsotopeRose

    There was literally no point in doing that spin-off with Mockingbird/Hunter. It was silly and ridiculous. I love Agent Carter but at the same time I can see the other side and say it doesn’t make sense to continue the story after she’s now dead in the MCU. I do hope it finds a place on netflix though for at least 1 last season to appease those fans who wanted more. I can for sure see AOS lasting at least 5 seasons at this point. John Ridley has been working with marvel on a secret marvel project and I’m still curious to see what that was all about. I honestly don’t feel the tv experiment has failed. If the tv experiment failed it would’ve failed season 1 for AOS and there wouldn’t have been an Agent Carter. Cloak & Dagger wouldn’t be going to the Disney/ABC owned Freeform (ABCFamily) network and would be heading to Netflix instead. Just my view on things.

  • Axxell

    Marvel Television has only truly struck gold with Netflix…and those shows are darker.

    So there’s a chance that Dungey was being honest about their intention of making AoS “darker” in an effort to somewhat emulate that tone and save it, and not because they’ve decided to put it out to pasture. Whether that’s a misguided effort is another story.

  • The problem was always skewing AOS to be a superhero show because it exists in the MCU instead of being a spy show. I fell off the series, but you could see that it has steadily moved to the point where we have all these inhuman characters. Would have preferred if they downplayed a lot of the fantasy elements, as they can’t help but feel like a cheapie version of what we have in the movies (especially movies like Winter Soldier that excell at downplaying the super, and playing up the spy drama)

  • I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Netflix needs a Nick Fury: Agent Of Shield series set in the mid-70’s. Back to basics.

  • Plays With Squirrels

    For me ABC has became a very family friendly network. The success of shows like Modern Family, The Middle, Black-ish etc. have most probably been a massive influence. When Lost premiered I believe it was more varied network and more drama/ sic-fi driven than it is now, and over time it has lost the amount of variety it used to have. MAOS is unlikely to get 2 more 22 episode seasons. It wouldn’t surprise me when it ends if they are to develop a 1 hour Star Wars and a new Marvel series (maybe Runwaways if Cloak and Dagger is successful)

    • SAMURAI36

      You think ABC just became the family friendly Network? It was always that. You do realize that Disney owns ABC, right? For that matter, that’s why Marvel’s movies are family friendly.

      • Plays With Squirrels

        I’m not US based. So I’m not largely knowledgable on the US Tv landscape. And they are family friendly to get the largest range of consumers to watch their product.

  • SAMURAI36
  • SAMURAI36

    Actually, I will say something…. The article said:

    “[This shift is] less about moving S.H.I.E.L.D. to 10 and more feeling we had a big bench of comedies.

    Oh, such oxy-moronic irony. The reality is, AoShit was already a comedy, although apparently not a good one.

    But at this point, Marvel TV is basically a non-issue. People need to realize, that just because Marvel is successful with their movie content, does not mean that their success is ubiquitous, nor does it translate across all other mediums. Marvel has had numerous missteps, but the company as well as its cult of followers are quite adept at taking the focus off those failings, & shifting that focus to A) their successes (which, at this point, really only accounts for their movies), & B) the failings of other companies.

    10pm is the timeslot that TV shows go to die. It’s only the strongest of shows that survive that timeslot, & those are precious few, on any network. And I’m pretty sure ABC knows this. It’s the same thing that happened to Constantine. In fact, if Constantine were on a better timeslot (day & time, & probably on a different network ), it’d most likely still be on right now, & DC would have a perfect TV record. But I digress…

    Everything in this article, are things I’d said before. ABC has cancelled shows with better ratings than AoShit. It’s just the fact that ABC wanted its own home grown superhero TV, to keep up with the competition, that this show has lasted as long as it has. I think ABC is letting AoShit die with dignity, rather than pull the plug on it outright. Also, if Marvel were A) not owned by Disney, who also owns ABC, & B) as popular as it is right now, AoShit woulda been gone after the first season.

    And, people keep trying to dodge this one point I keep bringing up about Marvel TV: if these shows are “all connected”, like Marvel keeps disingenuously trying to imply, then why aren’t most of the MILLIONS of people who watch the MCU movies tuning to Marvel TV for that very same reason? It’s like a 90% drop-off in the audience, from movie to TV.

    With a few exceptions, the only people holding onto these shows are the diehard Marvel Zombies.
    Meanwhile, my original statement still stands: Marvel has not had a successful show on network TV, since the Incredible Hulk, nearly 4 decades ago.
    So, perhaps Marvel should move AoShit to Netflix, with the rest of their stuff that has mediocre ratings.

  • Joseph Chaisson

    I haven’t heard anything about damage control cinco powerless was announced.

  • Chris Aytes

    AoS has always been a stretch as far as being a viable, audience-generating show. I watch it and enjoy it, but have no idea how it ever got a green light, save for the money in Disney’s eyes post “Avengers.”

    IF Marvel really wants to be in TV (which, given the success of their films and Netflix shows, they don’t need to be), they need to put properties the majority of people can recognize on the screen and knock them out of the park. Mockingbird and Quake aren’t household names.

    Let DC have TV. I find the CW shows un-watchable, and network broadcast is a dying medium.