Fox has come out with a very specific reason why it canceled the long-running Lucifer series - and it may be a portent for other shows on Fox. During the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Fox Television Group's CEO/Chairman explained that the decision came down to demographics and ownership (as it, they didn't own it, but Warner Bros. Television did).
"We had a great time working with that cast and the executive producers of the show. It worked well for us," Walden said (as reported by TV Guide). "[But] as we were going into this season, we looked at the size of the audience, which was starting to get pretty narrow. We just made a determination that given... it was owned by an outside studio, at the time we couldn't justify the economics. It was not an inexpensive show, and we just made a decision that ultimately it wasn't performing to a broad enough audience in a way that worked for us."
While the audience was one of the key reasons Fox canceled the show, the audience was also the key reason Netflix picked up the show as a result.
Netflix saved #Lucifer because it is "a fantastic show that has really resonated with audiences in parts of the world where we licensed it so we felt it was important to help that show continue for those fans," said Cindy Holland, Netflix's VP of Original Series #TCA18 pic.twitter.com/z1gzBQRP8N— See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) July 29, 2018
Ownership is also something Fox mentioned - and ownership is becoming a bigger issue at Fox with the upcoming Disney acquisition of portions of 21st Century Fox. The Fox network, which is not part of the Disney acquisition, will be going forward under the tentative business name 'New Fox' with the intention to have partial ownership of any new series it airs, and will continue to be a deciding factor in renewing pre-existing shows (as mentioned above regarding Lucifer).
“Fox will have co-ownership stake in the shows we order,” Walden said (according to Deadline). “Space on the network schedule is incredibly valuable. That is the condition pretty much across the board.”
Walden did say that "older juggernauts" such as The Simpsons will continue despite being sold to Disney, as they "keep circulation on the network." But Walden reiterates, “for new shows on Fox, the network will not produce them but will have a co-ownership stake."
This means that the network is unlikely to invest its airtime in properties it does not have a direct ownership stake in, as their studio component will be part of Disney's acquisiton, meaning their ability to profit from the shows on their schedule is dependent primarily on ownership rights and advertising.
For comic book TV fans, what does that mean? Well, Fox already said Gotham (which, like Lucifer, is produced/owned by Warner Bros. Television) will be ending following the fall season. The Gifted is scheduled to begin a second season on September 26, but that show - both its rights and ownership - are part of the Disney/21st Century Fox acquisition.
The Gifted's last episode had 3.42 million U.S. viewers according to TV by the Numbers, while Lucifer's recent season finale had 3.2m.
FX's comic book shows, both existing and in development, such as Legion, Y: The Last Man, and the planned Southern Bastards series optioned in 2015, won't be affected by New Fox's scheduling privileges, as the FX Networks are part of the Disney acquisition.