Merrill Barr explains why Nikita’s final six-episode season is mostly for Netflix:
The old model was simple: start a show, make 100 episodes, sell-off the syndication rights, continue producing episodes until it’s no longer cost-effective and cancel the series. That was it. In that model, endings mean nothing; they’re just convenient wrap-ups to a story the money men didn’t care about.
The old model was based on consuming shows one episode at a time, not the binge-watching that is so prevalent today.
Netflix has made series finales matter because without an ending a series is less likely to be picked up by their service, and in the age of digital distribution not getting your series on Netflix is like not getting your product into Wal-Mart. […Networks] must go out of their way not to produce a certain number of episodes, but to conclude their shows properly to make them more viable entities in the digital future.
Now that ending series properly is cost-advantageous, I’ll be curious to see whether more cancelled shows get wrap-up episodes.