outlander

There’s been an increasing amount of anxiety in the Outlander fan community since the season two premiere on Starz. The show’s audience figures are good, but there’s been no word of an order for a third season — which wouldn’t be worrying, except for Starz’s unique renewal practices. I talked about this on the latest episode of The Scot and the Sassenach, but so many dates can be hard to follow in an audio format, so I thought I’d write them down, and throw in a few more, just for fun.

Before we get to that, though, I want to clarify something important: Outlander deserves to be renewed, Outlander almost certainly will be renewed, and I’m not terribly worried about it. This list is an attempt to offer historical perspective and counterpoint, with an apples-to-apples look at the unique renewal strategy Starz practices when it comes to its original programming.

So, here’s how the dates break down for all of the Starz original drama series which ran for more than one season:

The pattern is inescapable. Starz generally renews early — oftentimes before the new season has even begun — or not at all. When renewal comes late in the day, it’s often accompanied by a change in showrunner (Crash), the announcement of a final season, or both (Da Vinci’s Demons). The only show that has been picked up after the season premiere without an announcement of a final season or a change in showrunner is Survivor’s Remorse, which was picked up five days after episode two.

That is why the people who are anxious about a renewal notice for Outlander are nervous, but it isn’t definitive proof that Outlander is in trouble — the television industry is enormously complicated at the best of times, and when we consider Starz’s subscription model, recent shift into new distribution platforms, the logistics of shooting the third season, the possible negotiations over a two-season deal to cover seasons three and four, the enormous marketing budget for the Outlander season two premiere, and the high-profile addition of American Gods to the Starz slate, there could be dozens of good reasons why an announcement is being delayed.

And if you want to help Outlander‘s chances, the best way to do it is to watch, to spread the word, and to contribute to a positive and passionate fan community. It’s a great show with a lot of story left to tell, and with good luck and a strong response from its audience, it’ll be around for years to come!

To discuss this on the StoryWonk Forum, click here!

Edited to add: And as of June 1st, 2016, Outlander has been renewed for two additional seasons, with no word about a series finale or a change in showrunner. Trust Outlander to do the unexpected!