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‘Shadowhunters’: Why it must be saved

Let's talk profit, potential and message!

There are some things in life that make no sense, and even less so the more you think about it. The cancelation of Shadowhunters is one of them. It’s been close to two weeks since the Shadowhunters fandom had to say goodbye to their show, but the hope that fans would finally get a non-nonsensical answer as to why the show was canceled quickly evaporated in light of the continued silence. More pressing remains the questions why the series hasn’t been picked up yet, despite the massive campaign to save it and the huge interest in it.

This show deserves to be saved for a number of reasons. The most important one for interested networks and streaming services obviously is the financial one: Saving Shadowhunters would be profitable. So let’s talk facts and numbers first.

shadowhunters series finale
SHADOWHUNTERS – “All Good Things…” -“Shadowhunters” airs May 6 (8:00-10:30 p.m. EDT) on Freeform. (Freeform/John Medland)
HARRY SHUM JR., JONATHAN HO, MATTHEW DADDARIO

1. Facts and numbers

In the last couple of years, due to new technology and the presence of social media in everyday life, the way we watch shows and how we choose to interact with them has changed drastically.

As Todd Spangler of Variety.com points out:

“Overall, streaming services have outpaced traditional TV networks in social engagement: Social engagement for streaming shows jumped 200 % from Q1 2017 to Q1 2019, while broadcast and premium cable programs grew by 55% and 69% respectively, during the same period, per ListenFirst.”

– Todd Spangler, Variety.com

So, TV programs communicate with fans via social media platforms and vice versa. This interaction is measured in post reactions, comments, retweets, likes, shares, hashtag use, etc.

Shadowhunters and social media engagement

Since the cancellation of Shadowhunters last year, fans have chosen the social media platform Twitter as their premium medium of choice in their fight to save the show and have tweeted the hashtag #SaveShadowhunters more than twenty million times in less than a year.

During all of season 3B (aired between February 25 and May 6), the Shadowhunters fandom has heavily engaged on Twitter, as can be seen from the sheer number of tweet counts. This data was compiled and analyzed by @MalecFicLibrary who has been tracking analytics since the show was axed in June 2018.

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Source: Chart compiled for Pure Fandom by @MalecFicLibrary, 16 May 2019.

To put these numbers in perspective, let’s compare Twitter engagement for all of Freeform’s shows, which are Shadowhunters, Cloak and Dagger, Good Trouble, Grown-ish, Siren, The Bold Type, and The Perfectionists. The chart below showcases the tweet count for each show’s spring premiere and finale (Note: Not all finales have been aired yet).

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Source: Chart compiled for Pure Fandom by @MalecFicLibrary, 16 May 2019

In terms of social engagement, Shadowhunters is the undisputed winner – and it is staggering by how much. So it really comes as no surprise that for the first quarter of 2019, Shadowhunters took an amazing fourth place on Variety’s “Top 10 TV shows by social interest, Q1 2019” list, losing only to HBO’s epic Game of Thrones saga and Netflix‘s binge-hits The Umbrella Academy and You.

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
ListenFirst Social Engagement Score: TV network roll-ups (including episodic programs, sports, news, live events) ranked by volume of post reactions, likes, comments, shares, comments, keyword mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, Jan. 1-March 31, 2019 (Source: Variety.com)

Shadowhunters also came in fourth on Nielsen Social’s Weekly Top 10” which “are ranked by the total number of social TV interactions across Facebook, Instagram Business Accounts and Twitter.”

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Source: https://www.nielsensocial.com/socialcontentratings/weekly/

The Shadowhunters finale also reflected the show’s popularity on Social Media. With a stunning 1.19 million interactions, it was the third most interacted series finale on social media this year, as @poppolls reported.

It seems it is high time for everyone involved in the entertainment industry to fully embrace the twenty-first century and the changes it brought to the world of TV and movies. Instead of rating a show’s success based on outdated concepts, networks would be well-advised to take social media engagement as a true indicator of a show’s popularity.

Shadowhunters season 3B: Viewing numbers and viewing potential

But clearly, we haven’t arrived there yet and same day/live viewings still matter. If you take a look at the data gathered weekly by C.B. Wentworth, it is clear that the latest season of Shadowhunters has maintained a consistent average live viewership in the US and did really well compared to other shows on Freeform. The numbers are not bad at all considering the fact that Shadowhunters had little promotion, a nine-month hiatus, and an airtime that has been less than ideal. Keep in mind that these numbers pertain to the USA alone.

But same day/live viewings do not tell the whole story. From the delayed views (as measured by C3/C7 data) and all the views via online platforms/streaming services, we know that there is a sizeable audience out there. Need evidence?  Shadowhunters made it on TV Time’s current “The Binge Report” and Netflix UK and Ireland’s “Top 10 most-watched shows.”

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Source: TV Time – The Binge Report (The week of May 6 – May 12)

Why Shadowhunters should be saved

Ratings in Germany also exceeded all expectations. As quotenmeter.de, a German media magazine covering everything in relation to TV and movies, reported in March, Shadowhunters experienced a major boost in popularity and close to 6 million people watched the show on Netflix.

#SaveShadowhunters Germany
Source: VoD-ratings.de, Goldmedia Custom Research, 8 March 2019 – 14 March 2019

In a recent and still ongoing poll by @CancelledSciFi, more than 11,000 viewers wanted to see Shadowhunters saved. Cleary, the demand for the show is still unbroken and growing.

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Source: www.cancelledscifi.com/2019/05/06/call-to-action-vote-to-save-cloak-and-dagger-the-orville-the-passage-z-nation-and-more/

2. The show’s message(s)

Now that we have discussed how profitable it would be from a financial point of view to save Shadowhunters, let’s talk about an aspect that should matter much, much more: It would be morally right to pick up a show that does not shy away from depicting issues that so many people struggle with every day.

Back in June 2018, the popular update account ShumDario News (@ShumDarioNews) released a moving video called “Why you should give Shadowhunters a chance.” This video does an amazing job of pointing out just why this show is so important -even life-saving- to so many viewers.

We are talking about a show that addresses mental health issues, racism, addictions, homophobia, and stereotypes. We are talking about a show that isn’t afraid of including LGBTQ+ representation and diversity (five out of eight main characters are people of color). Finally, we are talking about a show that depicts strong women and men showing emotions. At the same time, Shadowhunters is also known for its epic combats and cinematic moments – the show really has it all!

Impact on the viewers

The messages of Shadowhunters clearly resonate with its audience – and this international audience comes from all age groups and all kinds of backgrounds. This very personal message of Twitter user KJ (@tanzerin) describes why the show is so important to her – and stands for hundreds of other messages striking a similar chord:

Shadowhunters means so much for the obvious POC and LGBTQ+ representation. However, on a more closely related issue it is so important to me and my girls because they lost their father at ages 2 and 4 after an incredibly painful and lengthy dealing with mental illness, (bipolar) and heroin addiction. He committed suicide after his 13th attempt.

All this and additional issues are discussed in the show. Yes, it is a fantasy show. However, it deals with incredibly sensitive and current issues in a way that fans can identify with. It encourages them to come out and in a courageous manner openly discuss their problems with their peers in real life. The show has opened a door for me to discuss so much with my girls who are now 11 and 13. Shadowhunters does not only address issues, but demonstrates how the characters deal with difficult situations and how we as a family unit can apply their learned lessons or reactions.

I would love for the show to continue so that more ‘touchy’ subjects can be approached and help more families or individuals learn to cope or deal with their identifiable situations. I hope we can get the three additional seasons we were originally promised – for the fans, the actors and the crew!

– KJ @tanzerin

Fans’ feedback: The show’s most relevant messages

We asked fans what the most important messages of the show are and how these messages have influenced their lives. Here are some of the answers we received – they speak for themselves.

Love, acceptance, equality, compassion, tolerance

Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Twitter screenshot May 11, 2019
Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Screenshot May 10, 2019
Why Shadowhunters should be saved
Twitter screenshot May 11, 2019

Why Shadowhunters should be saved

Why Shadowhunters should be saved

https://twitter.com/KiriHerondale/status/1126905472030859269

Families can be made/Families of choice

Why Shadowhunters should be saved

Why Shadowhunters should be saved

3. The accomplishments of the #SaveShadowhunters campaign

Much has been written about the unprecedented campaign to save the show – the biggest one in TV history so far. Fans have pulled numerous mind-blowing publicity stunts (such as flying a plane over Netflix’ headquarters, sponsoring 24 bus ads in London, renting pedicabs and bike billboards, putting up self-designed billboards in New York, LA, South Korea, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Canada) and have raised over $30,000 for charity projects.

Designed for Pure Fandom by Megan @LoveForBane2

The biggest campaign accomplishment so far, however, has been getting Shadowhunters nominated for five People’s Choice Awards, four of which were write-ins. And when the show won four out of the five awards, it was an outcome that shook Hollywood! Even major media news outlets such as TIME and BBC reported how a “canceled TV show [swept the] People’s Choice Awards.” Finally, Shadowhunters received all the attention and international recognition it deserved.

Moreover, the PCA triumph proved how a dedicated fandom can really be a game-changer and a huge factor in a show’s success story.

“The night was positively glowing for “Shadowhunters,” a cult television show on Freeform that made a huge statement at the PCA’s to the point its own stars were flabbergasted by what was unfolding before them. It was a beautiful and powerful message from that show’s fervent fans to the actors who work so hard for them.”

– Too Fab Staff, toofab.com

Before the finale aired, fans once again took it upon themselves to promote the show by renting a huge, three-fold billboard in New York’s Times Square. At the moment, there are new plans underway for another poster in Munich, as well as other actions to draw attention to the ongoing campaign. It is clear that the Shadowfam isn’t going anywhere! And why should they?

#SaveShadowhunters campaign picks up speed again
Picture taken by @tanzerin/ Designed by @IconicNephilim

Conclusion

Fans were told to be loud by Martin Moszkowicz, the Chairman of the Executive Board at Constantin Film, the company which owns the rights and produces Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments – and they kept up their part of the deal. They made a lot of noise and the uproar even reached Hollywood. They continue to be loud.

Twitter Screenshot

Despite the fact that the responding silence is deafening, fans continue to fight for the show, spreading positivity and love in the process. Not only is it time for them to be heard, but they deserve to be heard. It is cruel and disrespectful to use their passion and accomplishments for promotion, and it makes no sense to maintain that the show was axed for economic reasons. While this might have been true a year ago, the situation since then has vastly changed and there is just no way that nobody would be interested in saving Shadowhunters.

Regardless of any legal issues that must be going on behind the scenes right now, it would be financially profitable to pick up the GLAAD-winning series and give the audience back the show it has worked so diligently to save. It would be folly not to. There’s an international fanbase, there’s merchandise potential and the potential for more viewers if the show was finally promoted properly.

And frankly, the world we live in right now needs Shadowhunters and its life-changing messages!

Check out our comprehensive Shadowhunters coverage here!

Featured Image source: Freeform/Justin Stephens

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Silke Milpauer

Fictional worlds and words have always been my best friends. A college teacher and professional writer in real life, I use writing fandom stuff as my personal form of escapism. Love all things Sherlock (BBC), Shadowhunters, Star Trek and Harry Potter. Enjoy Lucifer, A Discovery of Witches, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, CAOS, True Blood and The Originals. Avid reader, traveler, introvert, fangirl. Hate Mondays and drama, love coffee and laughter.

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