Update: Longmire Fans still hoping for a new home

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WASHINGTON, October 1, 2014 – Update:  With 5.6 million fans “Longmire” is still waiting for a network to pick up the series for its fourth season. A&E dropped the show citing that its fans were not of the “correct demographic”, i.e., too old. And fans are hating them for it.  It will be interesting if other shows suffer from viewership falloff as a result.

USA Network has been rumored to be interested in picking the show up, however fans are all waiting for confirmation about this.

The shows canceling came amongst the bandwidth-clogging “coming fall season” TV hoopla, a decision by A&E’s that was shocking and (we think) ill-advised. This most unusual detective series was the also-ran cable network’s #2-rated show in terms of viewership.

According to a “Deadline Hollywood” report, “Longmire” “was also A&E’s most-watched original scripted series of all time. It averaged 5.6 million viewers in Season 3’s most current ratings, a slight dip from Season 2’s nearly 6 million average despite a much weaker lead-in.”


“Longmire”: The characters

A&E’s modern western detective drama was distinguished by its intelligent scripts, colorful characters, brilliant low-key acting, and exotic locale in the Wyoming outback—although it was largely filmed in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico. The series starred Australian actor Robert Taylor (Agent Smith’s number two man in the “Matrix” film trilogy) as Walt Longmire, a tired, cynical but relentless middle-aged 21st century cowboy-sheriff-detective.

Longmire is forced to solve murders and other crimes largely by wit, intuition, and wild west tracking skills, even though hampered by a near-complete lack of CSI-style technologies and backup.

Making matters tougher on a personal level, Walt is haunted by the mysterious death of his wife, which occurred before the series began.

Walt also frequently finds himself at loggerheads with local tribal chiefs and lawmen on the local Indian reservation where he’s forced to tread carefully since he has no real jurisdiction. It’s worth noting that the Indian characters on “Longmire” are carefully and meticulously researched and drawn. This has been one of the most appealing aspects of this series, something explored in a bit more depth in the following brief A&E documentary profiling Marcus Red Thunder, the show’s advisor on Cheyenne manners and customs.

When boxed in by prickly tribal leaders, Longmire often turns to his one real friend, an Indian and local bar owner named Henry Standing Bear, incredibly well-played by a surprising Lou Diamond Phillips who is actually part-Cherokee.

Further complicating Walt’s life: his own deputy, the younger, hunkier Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) who’s running against him for the office of sheriff in the upcoming local election. Making matters still worse, Branch is sleeping with Walt’s adult daughter Cady (Cassidy Freeman) on the side, a fact that both Branch and Cady endeavor to conceal.

When he hits the investigative trail in his battered official pickup truck, Walt’s usual sidekick is transplanted Philadelphia detective Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff). We’re not quite sure why a female urban detective has chosen to relocate in the wastelands of Wyoming, but her backstory eventually comes back to haunt her as well.

Lou Diamond Philips excels as Henry Standing Bear.
Lou Diamond Philips excels as Henry Standing Bear.

In other words, “Longmire” has—or had—going for it all the elements that can make a series great: Interesting, sometimes haunted and complex characters we’ll need to learn more about; at least two violent backstories; genuine and not phony conflicts between Indian law and the white man’s law; and, in this case, random, often highly-violent crimes with few obvious clues and—due to being located in a sparsely populated area—not being readily subject to the latest in forensics.

And one more thing, as Columbo used to say. In terms of its wide-open, rural Wyoming setting and characters, “Longmire” marks a rare and welcome departure from the tired New York, DC, and LA locales where far too many such series are both set and filmed. It’s a big country out there with interesting people in it. It’s nice to see their lives portrayed once in a while, and that’s something else “Longmire” accomplishes.

Viewer demographics: Who want old people?

One key aspect of “Longmire,” however, is the age of its key characters. Walt and Henry are clearly tipping 50 or more; Vic is likely in her late 30s and getting close to 40; and even those iffy lovebirds, Branch and Cady, are well past college age. In other words, “Longmire” is a show that’s by and about real adults in real adult situations.

Both primary and secondary characters are not impossibly beautiful people. Romance as such is more basic than sexy, more practical than passionate. And all the characters, even the younger ones, have clearly been slapped around by life, approaching everything with considerable caution and rarely trusting a first response whether in love, social interaction or crime-solving.

Not surprisingly, the show was a big hit with a somewhat older demographic: late 40s and beyond, although recent stats have shown the third season becoming more appealing to family viewers of all ages.

Katee Sackhoff.
Katee Sackhoff adds some mystery and sex appeal as Victoria “Vic” Moretti.

But too bad. The coveted viewer demographic these days is roughly 18-45. Nailing this demographic gets top dollar for shows that appeal to the segment. Anything else can sell ads, too, but not for the big bucks. Which proved to be problem one for “Longmire.”

The next nail in the coffin was simple. The show was created and produced by a branch of Time-Warner known as Warner-Horizon Television. Warner Horizon took care of each season package and then sold it to A&E. That’s long been standard practice in TV, but lately, things have begun to change radically as the smithereening of the old three—then four—network model began to implode.

Most network TV shows used to be produced and filmed by other entities. But with so many cable channels now proliferating, audience shares have shrunk, cutting viewer numbers per channel and thus reducing ad rates virtually across the boards.

One way of fighting this is to program only shows that appeal to the target younger demographic. Slicing and dicing further, networks that do their own series in-house can cut out the hefty fees they have to pay for buying shows from outside studios like Warner Horizon.

When announcing its axing of “Longmire” after wrapping its third season, A&E admitted it was killing its number two show. But the cable network has claimed that between getting lower advertising dollars for a show not hitting its key demographic and having to pay higher fees for picking up shows produced outside their own studio capabilities, they were actually losing money on “Longmire.”

We’re never likely to get the complete skinny on this. It could be that “Longmire” made money for A&E—just not enough to award network muckety-mucks with higher bonuses. But in point of fact, A&E is clearly going in the direction of “unscripted” shows as it moves into its next fiscal year.

Branch Connally (Bailey Chase).
Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), out campaigning to unseat his boss.

In other words, a network that started out by airing mostly high-level, high-art offerings as gradually decayed into another scrappy also-ran that’s prepared to get deeper and deeper into more and more reality crap, which is our scientific term for “unscripted” shows, although that term is obviously not telling the whole story behind these shows either.

Sadly, A&E hasn’t always been intelligent in its handling of even its hit reality series, “Duck Dynasty,” having ousted the paterfamilias of the dynasty last season—albeit briefly—due to the faux outrage that erupted when he proclaimed his religious opposition to homosexual behavior. The learning curve doesn’t seem to have improved much here since then.

Follow the money. Why not do what Deep Throat said?

As cable TV has evolved, we’ve witnessed the out-of-control spectacle of more and more specialized TV and cable “networks” pursuing ever smaller slices of what everyone regards as the key demographic. What this pursuit ignores, however, is a pair of key current truths.

Truth #1: The older demographic, say 50 and up, pretty much has most of the spendable income that remains in this country, post-2007-2010. By ruthlessly ignoring the demographic that has all the money, all networks are leaving money on the table—likely quite a lot of it.

The time-honored excuse for doing so is the observation—likely once-true—that older viewers’ spending habits are pretty much set for life and therefore are not subject to new products or new sales pitches. So why advertise products to them, when kids are still an open book and still persuadable.

Kids are indeed still open books and still persuadable. But if, as the press continually tells us, the younger demographic, particularly millennials, are either unemployed or under-employed, they have considerably less money to spend than aging Boomers. So how is aiming advertising almost exclusively at a demographic that’s broke going to sell more product? Good question. But the studios are stuck in the last century and don’t bother to address it.

Truth #2: Given the multiplicity of viewing choices today, even the big networks are no longer going to pull the kind of viewership numbers they used to pull. The pie is cut into much smaller pieces right now. Network and cable TV by its very nature needs to address smaller and smaller niches, and cutting out all but one of these niches is shortsighted in the long run, particularly when it ignores the way money is spent.

The days when everyone tuned into The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night are long gone. Advertising and viewing models need to pay more attention to the way entertainment is sold today—including alternatives to TV such as portable devices as well as the Internet itself.

Cutting out older viewers from the kind of programming they prefer is ultimately going to hinder profitability rather than help it, as today’s “old people”—the Boomers—are far more experimental, open, and adventurous in viewing as well as purchasing than were their Greatest Generation parents. Why ignore them by imposing the last generation’s behavior patterns on them?

Does “Longmire” have a future?

Which gets us back to “Longmire.” Neither the show’s writers, creators, producers nor the stars themselves are taking the show’s cancellation sitting down, particularly Lou Diamond Phillips who’s been lighting up the Twitterverse recently with news, info and just plain cheerleading.

Walt (Robert Taylor) contemplates the meaning of life and crime.
Walt (Robert Taylor) contemplates the meaning of life and crime (and series renewal) in his own local Bad Lands. Still appears to have been shot somewhere between Santa Fe and Taos, NM.

The show’s considerable number of fans are campaigining hard as well. Fan pressure on A&E consistently failed to budge them from their short-sighted decision, something for which they’ll pay a price going down the road if not soon.

But on the other hand, rumors are flying about that another home could ultimately be found for the series. Early scuttlebut had Netflix and Amazon in the running. And indeed, given its clear success with genuinely adult dramas to date, Netflix could be a good bet to be “Longmire’s” new home.

But lately, the hottest rumors have focused on the once robust but currently flagging USA network, a channel that’s consistently come up with good, character-driven fare but lately has seen its most popular series like “Burn Notice” and “Psych” run their allotted and successful course without equally compelling material ready to move up from the bench.

Warner Horizon still believes in their “Longmire” product, at least at this point. It’s encouraging to see that they’ve put together a detailed presentation and stats on the show, ready to pitch anyone who’s willing to listen.

And someone should listen, as that 5.6-6 million viewer average for each “Longmire” episode is a lot better than most cable shows will ever achieve. Why throw it away while the product is still hot, even if you might occasionally have to advertise Depends or Ensure? (Or, more likely, Mercedes or Land Rover?)

We’ll keep an eye on the “Longmire” situation and report back as information warrants.

Frankly, if nothing else, someone ought to be interested in giving the series a decent wrap. The cliffhanger finale to the recently wrapped Season 3 has left fans hanging in the wind, driven crazy by the possibility they may never find out what happened next.

(Photos above are screenshots of A&E promo stills for “Longmire.”)

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  • Fan

    Well said and absolutely true!!

  • ekitty

    Love Longmire.

  • Ruth

    What is the problem don’t the older fans get a show for a change that we like. I am so tired of reality shows that it has almost turned me off of television.

  • Linda Hackett-Hutchinson

    So greatly agree & A & E now sucks as a station I only watch reruns of Criminal Minds

    • Leon Engelun

      I don’t even do that. I blocked it off my channel listings

  • Claudia Obermiller

    We LOVE Longmire, never missed a show and the acting and actors etc. everything you said. We want Longmire back for more season’s and episodes. All cable net works I AM NOT DEAD !!! I SPEND MONEY !!. Wake up, you are throwing away 6 million viewers we buy products. Get rid of the old way of counting viewers . Fire Nielsen rating service. Lesson to the viewers.#LongLiveLongmire.

    • Team Longmire

      Well said Claudia! My brother and I watch Longmire religiously! We need this show to stay alive, there’s hardly anything worth watching these days! #LongLiveLongmire

  • Michael

    The show was terrible and littered with bad acting. Lou Diamond Phillips was the only actor on the show that made it at all watchable. This show should have been cancelled after the first season. Someone at A&E has the brains to know better.

  • Leon Engelun

    #LongLiveLongmire

  • Leon Engelun

    A&E sucks bone.

  • lilstar2

    Longmire was the best show on TV!–It was the best of a very few shows I watch. I will never watch anything on A&E again . I have “Unfollowed” and blocked them from all my social media.Longmire was very unique . The cast was outstanding in their talent. The show was extremely well written.In fact, it should have been winning all kinds of awards. A&E never bothered to promote it.–Somsmsmart network

  • Deborah Estes Milesky

    Outstanding article! I am a proud member of the #Longmire Posse, and I can tell you that I am absolutely NOT the 50 year old that my mother or grandmother was in my buying, spending, or television habits! I have much more disposable income than most of the 20-30 year olds I know, and no large credit card or college bills, so much of that income is mine to spend if I want to. And I am highly offended by the fact that the television networks and advertising industry refuses to consider me part of a worthwhile audience.
    #LongLiveLongmire

    • Terry Ponick

      Deborah, all–

      Thanks for the positive comments on the Longmire update. I’m glad to know I have some company. Bias alert: I, myself, will never see the younger side of 65 myself. But we Boomers, for all our obvious faults, generally can’t be accused of being prudes when it comes to entertainment or fossilized when it comes to buying habits. The attitudes of networks and cable channels toward their audiences tend to be what’s Neanderthal, not older viewers. Their attitude toward the older demographic was likely true back when the Greatest Generation ruled the world. I hardly fault that generation–the Boomers’ moms and dads–for getting set in their ways around the age of 40, although many of them actually did not. That said, for people who spent their entire young adulthood being impoverished in the Great Depression, and then either fighting WWII or Korea, and later sending many of their kids to Vietnam while watching college campuses get trashed and great cities burn–well, who can blame them for just settling in and sticking loyally to shows and products they knew and liked.

      Successive generations have clearly gotten more restless, for better or worse. They try new things and in general are open to new ideas. And particularly when they get older, they fully understand what a mess adult life can really be, and appreciate films and shows that show everyday people like themselves frequently ensnared in the same kinds of predicaments and moral ambiguities they never expected to encounter.

      I first ran into Longmire on Netflix. I never realized the show existed, so infrequently did I ever tune in A&E for anything. When I learned of the cancellation, I wasn’t particularly surprised. Excellent writing, sophisticated and realistic acting, a setting that’s not New York or Los Angeles–this is the real America, or something a lot like it–that most Americans live in today, a country that time and the media (and the politicians) forgot. I’m not sure why it’s such a bad idea to cater to this large and ever increasing U.S. audience, but this tends to be the way the greedy media work. If you’re not completely maxing out your profits and your CEO’s bonuses, well then, what’s wrong with you?

      Time for us all to register our opinions wherever they’re being listened to. Fans couldn’t save the quirky and interesting “Firefly” some years back when Fox gave it the axe. But I suspect Longmire may have gained enough traction among a neglected demographic that strong support and protests online may help folks at Warner Horizon sharpen their arguments and turn the tide, assuming they’re still going to give it an all-out effort.

      • Pam

        Terry, you hit the nail on the head! Very well said.

  • Steve Scott

    Came to Longmire at age 66. Who says we don’t try new things?

  • Kit Prate

    Thank you for the most informative article about the Longmire/AE fiasco. I used to be a faithful A&E fan, but have been increasingly irritated with its current roster of shows. Longmire was the one show I watched. Won’t be watching A&E anymore.

  • kdbosch

    What a great write up…. and so true. Thank you so much for the info… fingers and toes crossed that Longmire will be back.

  • Evelyn Alexander, Albuquerque

    Good article. #LongLiveLongmire!

  • Cornelia Amiri

    There is brilliant compelling talent in every aspect of this show, the cinematography, acting, writing, directing, producing, editing, the accurate research of modern native americans and reservations. It has high ratings and a huge number of loyal fans of all ages. A smart network who wants success needs to grab this show up. #Longlivelongmire
    As far as the network which shall not be named it’s viewing numbers continue to plummet – no one of any age watches that network anymore.

  • Mark

    This is why I seldom watch anything on AMC anymore. They canceled ‘Rubicon’ after a season that ended in a cliffhanger. I hope another network picks up ‘Longmire’.

  • Frances

    So disappointed and surprised that Longmire was cancelled! It was the last show I ever watched on A&E. I had a hard time tolerating just the commercials for their other shows. Bring it back!

  • Vivian Taylor Briggs

    #LongLiveLongmire

  • Lindy

    I do not understand how such an outstanding and top rated show would be cancelled. Time to add a ‘real housewives of Bismark, North Dakota. Unbelievable.

  • Victor Radzawich

    I’m not sure of the rest of the Fans here, But I don’t watch live TV at all if I can help it. I record most of the shows I like and fast forward though the commercials anyway? Do the younger generations watch the commercials in this day and age? why? If they do, I guess they deserve the so called “non” scripted “reality” shows on A&E, what trash!!! Maybe it’s a good thing Longmire is looking for a new home? It does not belong with the sewage they show on A&E. This show deserves better, and if A&E can’t see that? then they are no better than the stupid shows they put out. I hope I never run into the people that watch their shows…I don’t think I would suffer them well. Really? am I the only person who does not watch the 20 minutes of commercials? Am I the only one who remembers when cable first came out? they said the reason for buying in was you didn’t have to watch any commercials!!! HA!!! what a lie!!!… #LongLiveLongmire

  • Victor Radzawich

    Take my posts down, I will keep posting them!

    • Amadaun

      What posts are being “taken down?” You have two posts right here unless I need a new pair of glasses.

      • mary

        This was one of the most intelligent show in eons……….get rid of all the reality shows. They are just painful and humiliating. LONG LIVE LONGMIRE!

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for the great article. I am also a proud member of the Longmire Posse. I’m 52 years old, and I refuse to be dismissed by the television networks and the advertising industry or to accept their outdated premise for marketing products. I will not be getting any younger, in fact there’s every possibility that I am just past the mid-way point of my life and they already consider me worthless??!! This started out to be about a rare television show that I treasure for its unique characters, brilliant production quality and amazing, intelligent story telling but has revealed deeper issues that will affect the Boomer generation for years to come.

    Hey advertisers, here’s proof I can try new things. I now actively tweet #LongLiveLongmire! YOU are the ones who think and act old. I hope there is a network out there that is willing to buck this system and take on the special program that Longmire is along with its 6 million and growing (thanks to Netflix viewing) base of loyal fans of ALL ages.

    • Pam

      Very well said, Elizabeth!! My husband and I discovered Longmire on Netflix. We don’t have A&E and we love the show so much that we bought season 2 before it was available on Netflix! Oh yeah, we’re “old,” 48 & 51, and used our disposable income to pay for Longmire! I hope Netflix picks it up! We were one of their first customers. Do you think the young viewers A&E are looking for are paying for Netflix and/or buying episodes?! NO! It’s us “oldies” paying for it. I wonder how old the A&E executives are… 28…30?

  • vicky versa

    i will greatly miss longmire – and yes, i’m a senior

  • Barbara Counts Parrott

    I never watched longmire on A&E…I was never an A&E watcher because I don’t really care for their programming. I had seen Longmire ads from time to time. .. and usually on a different network. 2 months ago we got a smart tv that uses WiFi and started watching Netflix and Amazon. Season 1&2 of Longmire is on Netflix. We started watching it from the very first episode last Thursday while we were off work. It was awesome! We watched it back to back after work everyday since. I told my husband that after we watch these we can go on charter on demand and watch season 3…we finished the 2nd season yesterday. .. ummm…. can you imagine how shocking it was to finally have found this show only to find that. .. at least for now. .. it’s over? The last season isn’t even showing on demand! What a crock!

  • irritated

    I WAS SHOCKED when I heard that Longmire had been cancelled! I have gone so far as to buy season one and two when they were released and plan to purchase season three when it becomes available. A&E has shown very poor judgement in this decision since it has such a warped view of baby boomers who make up such a large portion of those audience members treasuring the enthralling series. Advertising depends? PLEASE! What about touting vacation homes, RVs, recreational vehicles, or any number of cruises, vacation packages, man toys or other niceties these “old fogies” wanted but DENIED themselves when they were young parents. I will boycott A&E if they cancel my favorite show!

  • geovic

    Hmm I am 62 year old Female. Guess next truck will stick with ford 250 since dodge ram thinks I am too old to spend my50k + with then.

  • The network execs are out of the loop when it comes to most 50 somethings I know. Most of them were the first to buy iPads, all have the new iPhone6, are buying electric and hybrid cars, and can afford good liquor, $500 boots and the like. 20-somethings, not so much. Netflix, seems like you have a golden opportunity here to pick up “Longmire” and its loyal audience for production.

  • Lisa

    Well another disappointment from A&E. End season with a cliffhanger and then cancellation. Just like with The Glades. I guess you think think that your audience is 35 and under. Well from this 35+ maybe I should be finished with A&E. I certainly hope that another network picks up this great show along with its “older” viewers

  • SteveT

    The only show I was really into lately!

  • KdF

    Yes I am one of the “Older” Crowd. I actually stumbled on Longmire flippin channels back when it started, caught up with the re-runs on Sunday Mornin and have been faithful since. Sad they always seem to cancel any show I like. I remember TV from the early-ish days. 2 or 3 channels and there was stuff to watch. Today I have over 300 channels and rarely anything decent is on. Ever. Sigh, sucks getting Old I guess.

  • richardfg7

    Yep a&e pretty much has their head up their rear end on this one.

  • K.Powers

    My friends and I are huge fans of Longmire. We Are of different ages and discover new fans all the time. Great characters and acting..captivating, intelligent storylines…each role so well played….haunting…love this series. SAVE LONGMIRE!

  • Lise

    Thank you for writing such an excellent piece! I am saddened that A&E would drop Longmire in favor of such trash as unscripted shows. Do they really believe that the majority of their audience would opt to watch such garbage? Please, do not insult our intelligence! Lets find a new home for Longmire; A&E doesn’t deserve them!

  • Del

    Just another voice hoping that Longmire finds a new home. I enjoyed the show and feel that A&E was ill advised to drop it.

  • fedupscot

    Who are the yahoos that made this decision? Are they 28 years old and have power? I’m upset….really upset. Who are these “people” that have the power to say “yea or nay”? Who are they to say that a huge amount of people that watch “Longmire” don’t count? I am really going to miss that program….I would think that there is plenty of room on TV for “Longmire” and other quality shows.

  • NaotaChannel

    Memo to A&E:

    USA called.

    They found your 6 million viewers.

    . . . and they’re keeping them.

  • Shelley Ford

    Great article! Longmire keep on keeping on!!!

  • Michael

    I am personally glad they advised me I don’t fit their demographics. I’ll reciprocate by no longer viewing their channel.

  • Joshua R. Wilcox

    Loved the article. Of course my wife and I are part of the demographic that is NOT older. I am 25 and my wife is 21. We both LOVE Longmire. We of course didn’t even know about it until recently when Netflix added it (we don’t get out that often). I can tell you; that we finished all 3 season of Longmire in under a week. We LOVED IT. We are huge followers of the show, of all the actors and are strong members of #LongLiveLongmire. If I had the money I would pay for the show myself. It is that amazing. I really hope that a company picks it up immediately.

  • Iceman

    We must maintain constant vigilance for the lurking domestic enemies of our Bill of Rights.

  • Heather Lowe

    I am 26 years old and I love Longmire! Young people like Longmire too and SO WHAT if most of the people watching are 60+??? Who cares as long as people are watching the show and loving it???

  • Cajun Robear

    The Longmire show had two things that the folks at A & E don’t have: heart and class.

  • redwolf6911

    My family loves the show and never missed it. In fact we recorded each show, then went back and watched them again. We may be older, but the rest of the family is not. We have a daughter and grandchildren who watched the show with us. I hope a channel like AMC or FX picks it up. I will not watch streaming or netflix.

  • Longmire fan

    Any news on USA picking up Longmire/

  • carol

    i looked forward to this show every week, it,s like their saying were not good enough, well okay morons then us older people can boycott your butts less see if your big ideas bring in that younger group, i hope your fail and fall flat on your ignorant face.

  • Guest

    Bring Longmire back–finally a show that appeals to all ages and is fun to watch….Really miss it

  • Sylvia Clark

    Ask Oprah at OWN to take it

  • Sylvia Clark

    Let’s dropkick A&E!!!!!

  • michael michel

    longmire is great—-the idiots that took it off the air ought to be taken outside naked in the snow and horse whipped—PUT IT BACK ON!!!!!!!!