That is not surprising because the Boy Meets World sequel has enjoyed rabid following since its nascent stages of development, with fans’ enthusiasm helping the project get on the air. But, after three seasons and 70 episodes, the Disney Channel is pulling the plug. Why?
Like with Fuller House, the Full House sequel on Netflix, Girl Meets World rode the nostalgia wave, with those who grew up with the original 1990s sitcom driving the initial interest in the news series, which opened with a big premiere audience of 5.2 million viewers on Disney Channel. As the curiosity factor wore off, viewership tapered off but the comedy quickly established a core fan base, with steady Live+same viewership in the 1.7-1.8 million range per episode for Seasons 2 and 3.
Girl Meets World also is one of Disney Channel’s best received series, with sharp writing, strong reviews, two consecutive best children’s program Emmy nominations for the first two seasons as well as WGA and PGA nominations.
While this is all impressive, there was one flaw in the plan to reboot Boy Meets World — going against the natural tendency for followup series to draw an older average audience as they attract viewers of the original who have aged. While for its sequel, Full House migrated from a broadcast network, ABC, to an SVOD service, Netflix, which is driven by engaged audience – any audience — Boy Meets World went from ABC, which targets primarily adults 18-49, to the much younger skewing Disney Channel, which caters to kids 6-14.
Nostalgia brought a lot of viewers, who had grown up with Full House, to Fuller House, and that worked just fine for Netflix, whose business model is based on subscriptions, not demos. Similarly, viewers who had watched and loved Boy Meets World on ABC, flocked to Girl Meets World, but the sequel had to lower, not raise the original series’ median age in moving to Disney Channel. While Girl Meets World did well with older teens and parents, it had difficulties connecting with younger kids, who did not find it relevant enough. Among Disney Channel’s target demographic, Girl Meets World was the network’s #5 series in Kids 6-11 and #3 in Tweens 9-14 for 2016. Since Disney Channel is ad-supported, not getting enough traction in the target demos the network sells is a problem.
Longmire faced similar problem at A&E, which shockingly canceled the drama, also after 3 seasons, despite being the network’s most watched original scripted series ever, because its audience was older-skewing and not in the demo range advertisers were paying to reach. That was not a problem for Netflix and, after a save-the-show fan campaign similar to that launched last week for Girl Meets World, the streaming service picked up the crime drama, which got to run there for three more seasons.
Will Netflix swoop in again and rescue Girl Meets World with a Season 4 renewal? I hear the Internet network has been approached though there are no conversations going on. In an interview with TV Line, Girl Meets World creator (and Boy Meets World co-creator) Michael Jacobs hinted that “there are talks underway, but we’re at the very very beginning stages.”
Netflix, targeted by a #GirlMeetsNetflix fan campaign urging the SVOD giant to pick up the sitcom, is likely Girl Meets World’s best chance of continuing. The series is owned by Disney, which could bundle Girl Meets World with the Boy Meets World library. Girl Meets World should be compatible with Fuller House on the only streaming service offering original multi-camera comedy series. I hear Disney Channel’s sibling Freeform, which also airs multi-camera sitcoms and targets young — but older than Disney Channel’s — audiences, is not an option. There also are no signs that Disney Channel may reverse its cancellation decision but anything is possible. UPDATE Jan. 17:: Netflix was approached but is not interested in picking up Girl Meets World.
As efforts to find a new home for Girl Meets World are going on, fans have two more original episodes on Disney Channel to look forward to, including the Jan. 20 finale, Girl Meets Goodbye, in which the Matthews family contemplates a life-changing decision. Beyond that, Girl Meets World repeats will continue to air on Disney Channel and on Disney Channel’s digital platforms including the Disney Channel app and Disney Channel VOD.
Meanwhile, stars Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel have been meeting with Disney Channel for potential directing gigs, while fellow star Sabrina Carpenter is a recording artist with Disney Music Group’s Hollywood Records.