It’s not just Amazon hoping a podcast’s success will translate to a TV series. FX has reached a deal with Sony Pictures Television to turn Welcome to Night Vale into a TV show. Most of the details haven’t been nailed down, but Better Call Saul executive producer Gennifer Hutchison will handle the adaptation with the blessing of podcast co-creators Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink. The story certainly lends itself to TV: it imagines the fictional town of Night Vale as a place where every conspiracy theory is true.
It’s not hard to see why FX made the move. Popular narrative-driven podcasts like Night Vale frequently have rich stories and large numbers of passionate fans, but they also tend to operate on shoestring budgets even with touring shows involved. TV producers can snap up the rights at a relatively modest cost but still get plenty of quality source material.
Whether or not it succeeds is another matter. Night Vale is better primed than most, but we’ve seen podcast adaptations produce so-so results. Amazon’s take on Lore premiered to mixed reviews, and the snappy comedy of My Brother, My Brother and Me wasn’t enough to save NBC’s Seeso. FX’s Night Vale show will have to do more than pull in loyal listeners if it’s going to have a long run.