Marvel is an iconic name when it comes to comics and tent-pole films. However, they have struggled somewhat to find success in the cable TV market. Now, this is not to say they haven't found success on TV. Shows like Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones prove that. But those shows are on Netflix and while many consider them TV shows, there is a big difference between Netflix and the standard Directv subscription. Before we figure out how Marvel can improve their basic cable presence, let us first look at their current situation.
Marvel Currently only has Agents of Shield(Agents) under their basic cable umberella. While there have been a flurry of announced shows, such as Cloak and Dagger, The Inhumans, and Damage Control, none of these shows have aired yet. This leaves Agents as the driving force behind Marvel's basic cable brand.
Agents, in and of itself, has had problems finding its footing. The show had an awfully rocky start due to its existence in the MCU. However, in recent seasons, the show has been able to find its footing by utilizing lesser known comic characters such as The Inhumans, and the Secret Warriors. Even it the current season, the show has introduced us to a version of Ghostrider that has been well received by fans of the show.
Marvel has established a good base in Agents of Shield that they can build a stronger basic cable presence around.
Beyond Marvel's own brand, DC has already established a strong brand of live action comic book TV shows on the CW. Arrow is now 100 episodes deep, The Flash is on its third season, Legends of Tomorrow is on its second season, and Supergirl is also on its second season. How have they done this? They started with a base. Arrow was the first of the DC shows (I am not including Smallville in this because it doesn't apply to the current argument) to hit the CW in its current slate of offerings. In fact, Arrow was used to essentially set up the entire DC TV universe. Barry Allen, was first introduced in Arrow as a means of familiarizing the audience with his character before The Flash sped into our lives. The same can be said for Sara Lance and Ray Palmer. While Martin Stein, Jefferson Jackson, Heatwave, and Captain Cold were all introduced on The Flash before crossing over to Legends of Tomorrow.
The DC TV universe on the CW has been established organically starting with one show and growing into something much larger. Say what you will about the quality of each show from season to season(looking at you Olicity), but the flarrowverse started with Arrow and grew organically from there.
Where Does Marvel Go From Here?
Marvel is in a unique position with their basic cable TV future. On the one hand, they have several seemingly unrelated to Agents of Shield ideas set to launch into their TV platform. On the other, The Inhumans TV show that has been announced seems set to loosely be based off of the success that the inclusion of the inhumans had on Agents of Shield. Regardless of which route they go, creating unique content, or building off of current content, something does need to happen. Now, this is not to say that Marvel has not tried to introduce new shows. Agent Carter had a two season run before being cancelled due to declining ratings.
Maybe the answer isn't so much new content but hitting the right timing with Agents of Shield. It is evident that DC/CW owns the superhero block with four days of the week so Marvel/ABC needs to counteract that by making Agents viewable. They have tinkered with the time-slot, though with DVR's the time-slot is no longer really an issue. So what can they do? maybe the answer lies in the DC TV shows. All of the CW comic shows go on a Winter break. Agents of Shield took a month off in November, and is now on their winter break as well. Maybe the answer is to take the month off in November, but not take the winter break in December/January. The current time period is a barren wasteland where there is nothing really that appealing on TV for the superhero lover. If Marvel can have Agents on during this dead period, they could attract a higher viewership. This would allow them to develop a bigger fan base as well as allow focus on newer characters that they could either spin-off into another show or create exclusive content around like they have done with Yo Yo.
Or maybe the answer truly lies in what they have already done. Let DC control the cable TV market, while they control the every growing Netflix market with exclusive content.
Either way, comic book fans get more content to critique and analyze down the the nitty gritty!