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Freeform Renews ‘Beyond’ for Season 2 in Middle of TCA Session

Variety logo Variety 1/10/2017 Oriana Schwindt
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Freeform has renewed freshman supernatural/sci-fi series “Beyond” for a second season. Network president Tom Ascheim hopped up onstage in the middle of the show’s TCA session at the winter press tour on Tuesday to deliver the news.

“Beyond,” which stars Burkely Duffield as a young man who comes out of a 12-year coma with special abilities, was an interesting trial on Freeform’s part. The Imperative Entertainment-produced series had a two-hour linear premiere on Jan. 2, but the network also immediately made all episodes of the first season available to stream (one person did so in just under 10 hours, the network said).

Freeform’s first-party streaming data gave it some interesting intel: 26% of the people that binged the show did so in one sitting, and 93% did so in two days. The first season reached 7 million people via digital outlets, a la the Freeform app, and 7.2 million via TV, for a grand total of 14.2 million.

A few caveats about these figures being bandied about: The big 14 million number is not an average minute audience, which is how TV audiences are generally reported. It represents the total reach of all the episodes, regardless of how long those people watched any of the episodes, or if they even watched more than just a few seconds.

The linear TV ratings were slightly more modest, but still healthy for Freeform, with an average audience of 1.5 million total viewers watching the premiere in three days, and a 0.5 rating in Freeform’s target demographic of women 18-49.

Still, the binge-release strategy appears to have worked in Freeform’s favor.

“Our goal for launching ‘Beyond’ was to give the audience outstanding content in the way they want to watch it,” Ascheim said. “The response has far exceeded our greatest expectations, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and we can’t wait to bring more ‘Beyond’ to its growing fan base.”

The cast and producers, which had just been discussing the prospect of a second season onstage at TCA in Pasadena, were floored when Ascheim popped onstage to give them the news of the renewal. “I think I blacked out just now,” Duffield said right after. “To expand on the universe we’ve been able to create, I can’t think of anything better.”

Executive producer Tim Kring praised the announcement: “Audiences nowadays really know these things,” he said. “They hang back because they don’t know whether to invest their time in something. It can really help build momentum for a show when they find out there’s enough commitment to a show — it’s a very courageous move.”

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