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Sandman is the most popular show in the world right now - but it "may not be enough" for Netflix to renew the show

Nightmares and dreamscapes - inside the decision for a second season of Sandman by Netflix

The Sandman
Image credit: Netflix/Warner Bros.

If you haven't watched Netflix's Sandman, you might be the only ons. The 11-episode first season has been the most-watched streaming series of the past two weeks, so a second season is a no brainer, right? Well, not so fast.

In response to a fan question about Sandman not being a shoe-in for a renewal, co-creator Neil Gaiman was frank and realistic.

"...Sandman is a really expensive show," tweets Gaiman. "And for Netflix to release the money to let us make another season we have to perform incredibly well. So yes, we've been the top show in the world for the last two weeks. That still may not be enough."

In a different tweet exchange, Gaiman said that he and the other producers were told that Netflix was waiting "to see how we do for the first month before committing."

So just how popular is Netflix'S Sandman?

Image of Neil Gaiman and Allan Heinberg with masked figure at Sandman Press event
Image credit: Netflix

Sandman premiered on August and quickly became the number 1 TV series across Netflix globally. There's not a headcount of how many people watched, but they do count hours - 69.5 million hours within the first three days - and ramping up to 127.5 million hours by the 7-day mark.

While subsequent data has yet to be released, Sandman remains the number 1 TV series across Netflix in most countries according to a listing inside the service listing.

So how much does Netflix's Sandman cost?

Gwendolyn Christie as Lucifer in Sandman
Image credit: Netflix

According to a report from Deadline, each episode of Sandman had a production budget of "as much as $15 million per episode." Yes, that includes the animated episode. So that's $165 million paid by Netflix for a single series.

And that's to make the show. That doesn't include the marketing and promotion, like their big display at Comic-Con International: San Diego and the international press tours.

So what is the hold-up?

While we don't have any inside information, a decision about renewing Sandman comes at a very different time than in 2019 when Netflix bought the rights to do so from Warner Bros.

While Warner Bros. could have funded and aired the Sandman TV series on one of its various networks or streaming service, it opted to license it out for another company to fund/air - in 2019 there was a bidding war for these right with Netflix ultimately beating out Hulu and others.

While that might sound unusual, it's very common - Warner Bros. has does similarly for CBS's Young Sheldon, Netflix/Lifetime's You, Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso, and Netflix's Sweet Tooth.

In some ways this trend is due to previous agreements, but in other ways it's simply a risk/reward decision - do they spend their own money and risk the chance of it not being successful, or do they license it out to another company who take on that risk in exchange for guaranteed payments for those rights, and a cut of (any) profits. Walt Disney Studios made a similar decision when they licensed out Daredevil and other shows to Netflix in 2013.

But what's changed? If you've been reading the news, you've probably read about Netflix and Warner Bros. (now Warner Bros. Discovery) cutting many projects and changing how they approach the streaming business.

You might be thinking to yourself, didn't Netflix recently say they wanted their own franchise like Star Wars or Harry Potter? Yes, they did.

But with Sandman, Netflix doesn't own it - they own the rights to it as a TV show, but Sandman's owners (Warner Bros. Discovery) retains the ownership of the rights to Sandman games, consumer products, and other media (comics too, of course).

So for any ancillary Netflix's Sandman merchandise, that is largely the domain of Warner Bros. Discovery - not Netflix.

Neil Gaiman and Allan Heinberg discuss the difficulties of adapting the diner episode of Netflix's Sandman.

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Chris Arrant avatar
Chris Arrant: Chris Arrant is the Popverse's Editor-in-Chief. He has written about pop culture for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel, Newsarama, CBR, and more. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. (He/him)
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