Many of you know that A&E pulled the plug on Longmire earlier this week, but what you may not know is that Longmire was A&E’s biggest ratings hit, and one of the higher rated shows on cable. It’s 5.6 million viewers are more than Justified, they are more than Suits, Mad Men, The Strain or Boardwalk Empire (among many, many others). The problem with Longmire — like other ratings hits with bad demographics, such as Kathy Bates’ Harry’s Law (the highest rated scripted show on NBC at the time of its cancellation) — is that it had the wrong audience. It had an old audience. The median age of a Longmire viewer is 60, and advertisers won’t pony up for 60 year olds.
But you know who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about advertisers? Netflix. And you know where Longmire has played well in the past? Netflix (Longmire has become something of a Uproxx cult hit, thanks to Netflix). Not only would Netflix play well with its existing audience, think of all those senior citizens who are probably doubling up on their old people medicine to hasten their deaths because WHAT’S THE POINT OF IT ALL WITHOUT LONGMIRE?
I’m exaggerating, but senior citizens are a huge untapped market for streaming services, and the only people who watch more TV than old people is very young people. Netflix is already creating original animated fare to ensure that parents keep using Netflix subscriptions to babysit their kids (GUILTY), and think of all the new subscriptions they could get if they started tapping into the seniors’ market, starting with a show like Longmire.
I’m not kidding, either. Think about it. Don and Karen Oldster already have a laptop, which they use to keep up with their genealogy and Skype their grandkids (grandparents are surprisingly tech savvy when it comes to talking to their grandchildren). When they figure out that A&E has cancelled Longmire in a few months when their adult children tell them, they’re going to be bummed. So, those adult kids tell their grandparents about Netflix, and say, “Well, you could watch the entire season in a day or two on Netflix.”
After their eyeballs fall out of their damn heads with excitement, Don and Karen Oldster will decide to subscribe to Netflix, but just for one month, so they can watch Longmire. But then when they’re done with Longmire, they start snooping around and discover that there’s about 40,000 hours of television on Netflix they haven’t watched. So, they kill their cable subscriptions ($100 a month) and trade it in for a Netflix subscription ($10 a month); they gorge themselves on amazing television programs, and they use that extra $90 a month to buy the good Metamucil. Suddenly, those grandparents are also a lot more interesting to talk to because all they want to do is talk Buffy and The League with you.
In the meantime, Netflix has just added 5 million new viewers, who are going to tell all their friends about it, and because the median age of death keeps rising, Netflix has these old people on the hook for subscriptions for at least the next two decades, or even more because old people suddenly have a better reason to live than to Skype their grandkids and play golf. NOW THEY HAVE UNLIMITED TELEVISION.
It’s a win win, y’all. This may be the next best thing to world peace.
Also, Katee Sackhoff.