I started watching Kingdom on Netflix at the strong suggestion of some high school friends. The show ran for three seasons exclusively on DirecTV between 2014 and 2017. I had never heard of it until two or three of them recommended it in a chat.
The show’s lead actor, Frank Grillo (who had a turn as the villain Crossbones in the MCU movies, and was killed off in Captain America: Civil War) was interviewed by Variety last week (italics added for emphasis):
One silver lining of the whole COVID experience has been the surge in interest in “Kingdom,” a show about the Kulinas, a family of MMA fighters, that was critically beloved but low-rated during its three years on DirecTV. The show wrapped up in 2017 and may have been relegated to obscurity had Netflix not decided to license it. With much of the world in lockdown, audiences that had never heard of “Kingdom” embraced the show, following the trials and tribulations of the Kulina clan over the course of 40 episodes.“It is the greatest thing that’s happened in my career,” says Grillo. “I always thought that show was beyond underrated and unrecognized. It was a sin. We worked hard on that show physically as well as artistically. But DirecTV really shit the bed. It didn’t know what it was doing and still doesn’t know what it’s doing. It had no business being in the business.”
In the months since “Kingdom” developed an avid following, fans have pushed for a fourth season, with creator Byron Balasco even hinting that the show could be revived.
Grillo’s complaint is one about product channel fit: Netflix is proving that DirecTV was the wrong channel for Kingdom, despite having invested in three seasons of the show. But, DirecTV was also pursuing a riskier strategy that mirrors the one every streaming service is now pursuing: producing owned and original content for a proprietary distribution channel (in DirecTV’s case that was the now-defunct Audience Network channel). So there is a deeper critique here about the merits of a legacy MVPD distributor pursuing a riskier business strategy of distributing owned and original content without having established product channel fit, first.