A spokesperson for the U.K. broadcaster told Variety, “‘The Circle’ has been a huge hit for young audiences and has grown successively over three seasons on Channel 4, consistently outperforming slot averages. We’re incredibly proud to have worked with Studio Lambert North and Motion Content Group to invest in such an innovative show and to have given it a springboard for its international format success.
“In much the same way as when we originally commissioned ‘The Circle,’ Channel 4 has a responsibility to continually look at how we reinvent and create space for new ideas, and so we have decided not to commission the show for a fourth season. We’d like to thank Studio Lambert, Motion and all those involved for ‘The Circle’s’ huge success over the last three series.”
Launched in 2018, the innovative show from Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group finds players isolated in apartments, chatting with each other solely through a specially-designed app, with the freedom to present themselves or play as a catfish.
The series launch was heavily marketed by Channel 4, which has a track record for launching hit unscripted shows in the U.K. Although it failed to immediately grab audiences, “The Circle” has since gained a dedicated army of fans, particularly with its target demo of young audiences. Shortly after its debut, the format was picked up by Netflix, which adapted the show in a number of markets, including the U.S. where season 2 wrapped earlier this week. Season 3 has already been commissioned by the streaming giant.
The U.K. cancellation will undoubtedly leave fans of the show scratching their heads.
Season 3 of “The Circle” U.K., which aired earlier this year in a 10 p.m. slot, was actually up 12% in viewing for individuals over season 2. Audience share for season 3 was also up 43% over the slot average. Meanwhile, further underlining its pull with young audiences, the 28.3% share of 16-24 year olds was up 189% on the slot average.
Channel 4 has said it’s keen to make room on its schedule for new programs, and will soon be “scoping out new ideas.” It’s thought that Netflix U.K. may also swoop in and pick up the U.K. version of the show themselves.
U.K. trade outlet Broadcast previously reported that the British series’ hefty price tag (for domestic standards) — which is believed to be around £400,000 ($550,000) per hour — was not the best value for money in terms of the audience it was able to pull in across its run. Channel 4 and Studio Lambert, however, are understood to have disputed the show’s price tag.