Many a Netflix subscriber has experienced the crushing disappointment after having their favorite series canceled after just a season or two.
Fans of The Baby-Sitters Club were the latest group to feel blow when the announcement came last week that Netflix would not renew the teen dramedy for a third season. Based on the best-selling books series by Ann M. Martin, The Baby-Sitters Club follows the friendships and adventures of five middle school girls as they start a babysitting business.
The series premiered in July 2020 and would garner both viewer and critical acclaim, with both seasons receiving a 100% critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, these factors didn’t prevent the popular series from being canceled by Netflix.
Executive producer and showrunner Rachel Shukert shared her disappointment in a revealing interview with Vulture writer Kathryn VanArendonk. As Shukert describes it, the cancelation of The Baby-Sitters Club serves as a look into how Netflix’s priorities have shifted in what the company considers a hit show
Shukert was especially frustrated with the show’s cancelation as she felt The Baby-Sitters Club’s viewing metrics in the U.S. showed they were doing well. “Our numbers seemed fine. It was what they expected. It was pretty close to what we did last season, so I wasn’t too worried,” she said.
The showrunner went on to theorize that their while metrics were comparable to HBO hit shows like Succession, but that Netflix’s reluctance to release ratings data made it harder to make a stand with the streaming network’s decision-makers.
She also said that having seen the show’s internal data, the series would have been other services’ biggest hit, but also pointed to frustration of not knowing what numbers comparable shows were hitting.
“For this show that has a fine viewership, but is not a monster hit, but it’s beloved by fans…does that matter? I don’t know. I think we had the bad luck to come out at about the same time as Squid Game…numbers that were totally respectable and successful last year were suddenly seen in a different way,” she said.
Shukert also feels like the internal metrics Netflix uses “change from month to month,” particularly when it comes to how Netflix aims to drive subscribers. North America is seeing relative plateau in subscriber additions, but Netflix is looking to drive subscriber growth in other parts of the world where a teen series isn’t as valuable of an IP.
Completion rates also play an important role, and a series like The Baby-Sitters Club will take longer to get through based on its younger audiences.
“At Netflix, it’s more about if your show works on the platform than if the platform is working for your show,” Shukert added.