Every year, we hear of good-to-great shows that get cancelled because of various reasons, the biggest being they did not get enough viewers. The shows that defy that narrative — shows with minuscule ratings which still get renewed — are far fewer in number.
Thankfully, Halt and Catch Fire is in the latter group. It certainly had the lack of viewers; its second season received just under 1 million viewers per episode in Nielsen’s Live+7 ratings. However, two months after that second season ended, AMC has renewed the show for a third season.
This is fantastic news for whoever has been following the show, as its second season was far better than what its first season had peaked at. We’re seeing an explosion of shows that are available to viewers (a phenomenon some have dubbed Peak TV), and this renewal is a pleasant surprise for those who, like me, have been impressed with its great second season.
AMC’s president of original programming and development Joel Stillerman commented on this decision in a phone interview with Alan Sepinwall:
“We decided to stick with it primarily because we love the story, and we think it’s a show that has a lot of life left in it. These things are always complicated, and the ratings play a part, but they’re far from the entire story. If we see something that we truly love, and we see the talent and the momentum behind it that give us the confidence to move forward, we’re all in.
Generally speaking, we’ve gotten pretty good — if I can toot our own horn a little bit — at setting shows up through ownership of that content, and all the things we’ve learned in our journey to become a full-fledged studio, so shows don’t require massive ratings to be able to move forward. It’s the reason why, I don’t mean to be glib, we started AMC Studios. It’s a better mousetrap for television. We’re not singularly beholden to ratings anymore, and that’s exactly the reason why we did that. We didn’t want to have just a single-metric system.”
The third season will be set in a new location (Silicon Valley), and the show is getting new showrunners too, as series creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers take over from Jonathan Lisco. However, given that they have worked with Lisco for the past two seasons, this transition should not be a jarring one.