Providential news, TURN fans: “TURN: Washington’s Spies” has officially been renewed for a third 10-episode season, airing in Spring 2016!
— Turn AMC (@TurnAMC) July 15, 2015
The unusually-long five-week silence from AMC had plenty of fans worried. (And we thought LAST year’s waiting period for renewal was long!) As of the time this post was published, AMC had not published a standalone press release, though the news was announced on TURN’s official Facebook page and Twitter account. Oddly enough, the only notice on the show’s official website is a small snippet of text that says “Returns in 2016.” The news was confirmed by reputable entertainment news sites like The Hollywood Reporter, which included the following justification by AMC’s top exec:
“We loved what we saw creatively from the Turn: Washington’s Spies team in season two, and the show achieved something that is increasingly rare in television today — a growing audience during the season,” said AMC and SundanceTV president Charlie Collier. “Turn continues to attract a dedicated and distinctively upscale audience across multiple platforms, and it has carved out a meaningful space in AMC’s ‘eclectic by design’ programming palette. We look forward to working with Craig Silverstein, Barry Josephson, the expanded cast and entire Turn team on season three.”
That’s right, TURN fans — the president of AMC thinks you’re a “distinctively upscale audience”! While we’re happy taking that compliment at face value, other sites have interpreted this to mean that AMC is well aware of the numbers that suggest that TURN’s audience, while small, is markedly more affluent than those of other cable dramas.
In regards to ratings, the same Hollywood Reporter article, however, misrepresents TURN’s anemic Season 2 viewing numbers that originally had AMC executives on the fence about renewal. Season 2 of TURN averaged 1.6 million viewers in “live +7” ratings, not “live + same day” ratings as the Reporter claims. (Other websites list this stat correctly.) “Live +7 ratings” are the most generous numbers you’ll find for any given show, since they take into account a week’s worth of DVR viewings in addition to live numbers for each episode’s debut. TURN’s “live + same day” ratings never broke a million viewers for any episode of Season 2, and were roughly one-half the numbers of Season 1, when the show was in direct competition with Game of Thrones! There is some good news to be gleaned out of these ratings, however: First, as mentioned above, there was a slight uptick in audience numbers as Season 2 went on — and even though numbers didn’t come close to those of TURN’s first season, the trend was going in the right direction. Second, DVR recordings made a huge impact — as TVwise points out, TURN’s viewing audience more than doubled when taking a week’s worth of DVR viewings into account. Apparently TURN is a hot show on DVR and Netflix, in spite of its cringeworthy live numbers. And in this brave new world of multi-platform TV viewing, that merits a thumbs-up from AMC — although, of course, the fact that TURN’s audience is an unusually wealthy one helps, too.
Any way you slice it, this is cause for celebration for TURN fans! This blog will continue to post articles, links, and other TURN news during the off-season, though at a bit of a slower pace than we usually do with live episodes airing. In fact, we’ll have some substantial new scholarly reading on TURN ready for you by month’s end, so stay tuned!