In news sure to please science fiction fans, Amazon recently announced that it has picked up The Expanse for a fourth season. The news comes following SyFy’s decision not to renew the series earlier this month. Following the unexpected cancellation, Alcon Entertainment, the company that produces The Expanse, spearheaded a social media campaign to get the series renewed with online video distributors, including Amazon and Netflix. The renewal campaign even attracted the attention of celebrities from outside the series production, notably Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, who voiced his support for the series on Twitter. The campaign culminated in a fan crowdfunding project that resulted in a plane flying around Amazon Studios in Los Angeles with the banner “#SaveTheExpanse.”
The renewal was made even more triumphant by the fact that it was announced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself at the International Space Development Conference. Bezos, a dedicated fan of the series, was receiving an award for his advocacy of space exploration and colonization at the conference. The series itself is set in the distant future, where humanity has colonized most of the Solar System. While the show is critically lauded and draws comparisons to shows such as Game of Thrones for its gritty storytelling, it has never been a ratings success for SyFy, which contributed to the network’s decision not to air future seasons.
Entertainment industry experts also point out problems with distribution rights as another reason for why The Expanse was canceled by SyFy. While the network has first-run rights to the series, previous seasons stream on Amazon. As fans discovered the show on the streaming site, SyFy did not generate any revenue and, therefore, had less incentive to keep the show. Entertainment industry experts further contend that the show’s cancelation and subsequent renewal at Amazon is another indication in the growing trend at cord-cutting by audiences. As viewers reject more traditional means of watching television, such as cable and satellite, more are turning to modern means of entertainment, such as streaming sites. This is especially true of the situation with The Expanse, where viewers have lauded the quality of Amazon’s streaming service but been very critical of SyFy’s own streaming app due to technical issues and too many ads.