Yet another refugee from NBC’s 2020-21 primetime schedule has found a home in video streaming. And once again, we're not talking Peacock.
Roku has officially inked a deal with Lionsgate TV to make an “all-new, feature-length" Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist film, debuting in the holiday season, based on the Emmy-winning musical dramedy, which was cancelled in June by NBC after two seasons and 25 episodes. (Next TV ambitiously posted a month ago that Roku and Lionsgate were in talks.)
Perhaps taking a page from the extraordinarily successful Hallmark playbook, the movie will be called Zoey's Extraordinary Christmas.
All 25 Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist episodes that are already in the can, meanwhile, will be shown on the free-to-consumer, ad-supported Roku Channel, starting “later in the fall.”
The series starring Jane Levy as a young woman who hears the thoughts of others in the form of top 40 songs “is the kind of show that doesn’t just entertain people, it speaks to them,” said Colin Davis, Roku’s head of original scripted programming, in a somewhat hyperbolic statement. “The show has a healing power about it, which is brought to life by the incredibly talented cast through music and dance. That connection with the audience is what makes bringing a holiday-themed film like Zoey to life with the original cast so special.”
Creator Austin Winsberg added: “I am so extremely grateful to The Roku Channel for helping us get Zoey to sing again. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to hear someone’s heart song than the holidays. And Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas will be an opportunity to provide the fans and new viewers alike a chance to all tap their toes and get in the holiday mood.”
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist wrapped its second season in May by matching its series-low audience ratings, with the season finale scoring a 0.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 1.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
The situation is a little different than what occurred with Manifest, another hourlong NBC show that was also struggling in NBC primetime before it got the axe, only to be rescued by Netflix with great fanfare
When NBC Content Chair Susan Rovner and her team announced the cancellation of that Warner Bros. TV-produced series in mid-June, it’s first-week performance on Netflix was already pinging a “No. 1 in the U.S.” on Netflix’s Top 10 widget.
So perhaps NBCU has a little more plausible deniability as to why Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is on Roku Channel and Peacock? Rovner and team did have some indicators.
As with Manifest, Zoey’s first two seasons have streamed on Hulu since the series launched. The audience performance, shielded from public view, apparently wasn’t impressive enough to convince NBCU to keep the show around, even on its own streaming service, throwing into a black hole tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars in NBC on-air promotional time spent over a two-year period.
According to Deadline, which first reported the Roku-Lionsgate talks, NBCUniversal discussed with Lionsgate the possibility of continuing Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on Peacock, but a deal never transpired.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.
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