'Search Party' Moving From TBS to HBO Max for Seasons 3 and 4

Search Party Ad - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of HBO Max

Search Party's future is coming into focus.

Following months of speculation, the critically adored comedy starring Alia Shawkat — which last aired in December 2017 — is officially moving from niche comedy-focused cable network TBS to WarnerMedia's forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. The series will begin airing its previously announced third season when HBO Max launches in spring 2020. Additionally, HBO Max has handed out an early fourth-season renewal for the show from Jax Media and executive producer Mike Showalter.

"With HBO Max we have the unique opportunity to continue this brilliant, acclaimed series and connect with even more of the younger, digital natives who have worshipped it the most,” Kevin Reilly, chief content officer, HBO Max and president TNT, TBS and truTV, said Monday in a statement. 

Sources say the move is designed to let Search Party find a larger audience. In addition to the two new seasons, HBO Max also will be the home of the first 20 episodes of the comedy. Search Party faced an uphill battle finding viewers on TBS' linear network, though TBS noted in April 2018 that nearly 25 million people have watched or sampled the series when adding in digital, mobile and on-demand platforms. (The December 2017 season two finale drew only 432,000 live-plus-same-day viewers, for example, while the series has a 98 percent and 90 percent rating among critics and viewers, respectively, on RottenTomatoes.com.)

Search Party is the latest TBS/TNT series to move as parent company WarnerMedia preps its streaming service. Last week, Snowpiercer moved back from TBS to TNT, which originally developed the reboot of the train drama in 2016. TBS' animated comedy Final Space also moved from the comedy-focused network to Adult Swim for first-run episodes. What's more, TBS' unscripted comedies Drop the Mic and Joker's Wild also moved to formerly drama-oriented TNT. Additionally, TBS last week announced Obliterated, its first-ever straight-to-series drama order. Still to be determined is the future of the comedic anthology The Guest Book at TBS.

With Search Party's move, TBS' roster of originals now includes the animated comedy American Dad; Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish's The Last OG; the second season of the anthology Miracle Workers; and the recently ordered comedy Chad, starring Nasim Pedrad. The cabler previously canceled series including The Detour, Angie Tribeca, Wrecked and People of Earth, all of which had been part of Reilly's efforts to rebrand TBS as a home for niche comedies.

Search Party joins a slate of comedy originals at HBO Max that includes the Anna Kendrick anthology Love Life, Made for Love and Starstruck.

In a larger sense, it is becoming increasingly common to see originals shift within media giants like WarnerMedia as the parent company prepares to enter the streaming race. Others, like Disney and Comcast, have done the same in advance of their arrival in the direct-to-consumer space. It is unclear if any other originals from WarnerMedia's linear networks will shift to the streamer.

"Search Party is alive and thriving!! We are so thrilled to show the world what we’ve been working on the past two years and for new fans to find it on HBO Max,” said executive producers Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. “You’re going to love the two new seasons, but if for some reason you don’t, then you’ll get your subscription fee back. Actually, that’s not true. That’s a joke. We don’t have that kind of power.”