In an unusual deal, CBS TV Studios, which produces both series, has licensed their first seasons to Netflix in advance of the shows’ upcoming second seasons on CBS. Evil and The Unicorn will make their Netflix debut on October 1.
The agreement is for one year and not exclusive, with the first seasons of drama Evil and comedy The Unicorn continuing to stream on CBS All Access. The ViacomCBS platform also will stream Season 2 episodes of the shows once they air on CBS. Evil and The Unicorn are both on the fall CBS schedule, which will likely start rolling out in November.
CBS TV Studios sees the Netflix licensing deal as a promotional tool that would expose Evil and The Unicorn to new audiences. Both are atypical broadcast series with intricate storytelling and serialized elements that tend to do well on streaming platforms — Evil is the only CBS drama with genre elements; The Unicorn is one of only two single-camera comedies on the network, known for its multi-camera sitcoms. CBS and the studio have been high on both shows creatively, leading to their renewals despite modest linear ratings.
Shows such the CW’s Riverdale and NBC’s Good Girls benefitted from their Season 1 runs on Netflix. Following soft ratings starts on their linear networks, both received strong sampling when their freshman seasons began streaming on Netflix ahead of their Season 2 premieres, helping the shows establish themselves and have long, successful runs.
CBS series are among the most popular titles on Netflix. Recent Nielsen reports list veteran procedurals NCIS and Criminal Minds, which recently ended its network run, as two of the most heavily viewed series on the streaming platform. Like is the case with most other CBS TV Studios shows, the deal with Netflix for NCIS is not exclusive, and the CBS flagship drama also is available on CBS All Access.