ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at Creators.co
Staff Writer, Superheroes, Star Wars and such. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Now, ABC's cancellation of Agent Carter back in May 2016 may not have come as all that much of a surprise to fans - the show had, after all, struggled to garner renewal-inspiring ratings - but that didn't make it any less of a disappointment.

Peggy Carter's on-screen adventures were some of the more engaging - and certainly among the most ardently feminist - on network television last season, and her absence will likely be keenly felt this coming season. Which, of course, is why devoted fans of the show immediately began petitioning Netflix to rescue Agent Carter from the ratings-focused world of mainstream television, and to take it to a streaming service where it would be fully appreciated. Heck, even Peggy Carter herself, Hayley Atwell, expressed interest in reprising her role if a deal went through.

Sadly, though, it wasn't to be - and Netflix ultimately passed up the opportunity to revive the fan-favorite show. As it turns out, though...

The Real Reason Netflix Didn't Save Agent Carter Actually Explains A Lot About Other 'Abandoned' Shows

Agent Carter/ABC
Agent Carter/ABC

So much so, in fact, that it might now be time to start getting a little more pessimistic about the chances of some of your other favorite shows being revived by the streaming service. Y'see, when EW recently asked Netflix's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, why Agent Carter wasn't saved from cancellation, despite Netflix's long-standing relationship with Marvel, he had this to say:

"We’re looking for truly original brands to own... and in that Marvel space we already have [original comic book shows] – so that was mostly why."

That, though - while an entirely reasonable, if not exactly fan-pleasing, logic - wasn't all that Sarandos had to say. Instead, he added that:

"[Pre-existing properties] also have some output deal complexities... So when you pick it up, being able to pick it up globally is difficult even after it’s canceled. Some of those output partners still had [Agent Carter]on the air, so they would argue it's covered by their output [deals]. Unfortunately, it was a business decision more than a creative one."
Agent Carter/ABC
Agent Carter/ABC

In other words?

Agent Carter Wasn't Picked Up By Netflix Because They Wouldn't Have Had The Exclusive 'Output' Rights

Agent Carter/ABC
Agent Carter/ABC

Which, with the 'output' rights (essentially prior contracts in international markets for the screening of the show) for Agent Carter having already been sold around the world, and the show only recently having been broadcast in some markets, makes a whole lot of sense. After all, the contractual chaos that could ensue - with possible holders arguing, and potentially suing, for previously arranged (and potentially paid for) distribution rights in various markets - could easily lead to a financially problematic legal limbo from which Agent Carter could struggle to emerge in foreign markets.

With a finite amount of resources, then, why would Netflix invest in a show that other streaming or television outlets would potentially hold the rights to, when its own in-house content (including several Marvel shows) is already thriving?

For all that makes sense, however - and Sarandos' position is certainly justifiable, even if we might argue against it as fans of the show - that logic also brings a slightly more substantial problem along with it. Y'see...

Agent Carter's Rights Problem Will Likely Be True For Pretty Much Every Other Cancelled Show, Too

Specifically, the same potential rights issues that seemingly kept Netflix from getting into the Agent Carter game could well stop the vast majority of prematurely cancelled yet fan-beloved shows from being picked up by other networks or streaming services. Agent Carter, after all, isn't the only cruelly cancelled television property to be covered by pre-existing output deals - and many of those shows will have been similarly passed over by the likes of Netflix as a result.

Comparatively low-budget options may still find a new home - The Mindy Project's move to Hulu, for example - but the more expensive likes of Agent Carter may find themselves trapped in an awkward middle ground: Too expensive - and internationally successful - to have their pre-existing output deals be ignored, but too niche in their audience (and lacking in ratings) to retain a place on their original network. In that sense, then, Peggy Carter's adventures may ultimately be remembered for more than just their ardent and engaging feminism, and rip-roaring sense of fun - their absence from our screens might well come to symbolize the general lack of 'rescued' shows on both Netflix and its competition.

At least until they've been gone for a decade or so, at any rate...

What do you reckon, though?

Poll

Would you have liked to have seen Agent Carter come to Netflix?

via EW