News: Amazon Saves The Expanse

SyFy decided to cancel one of its flagship series The Expanse, but Amazon has swooped in and saved the series. Amazon finalized a deal to pick up the sci-fi drama series, which is currently in its third and final season on Syfy. The announcement was made tonight by Amazon’s boss, Jeff Bezos, at National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles. The announcement came after The Expanse panel that featured executive producer and showrunner Naren Shankar, and cast members Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham and Steven Strait. Bezos said:

“I was talking to the cast half an hour ago, before the break for dinner started. I was telling them that we are working hard at Amazon to save The Expanse but it wasn’t a done deal yet. During dinner, ten minutes ago, I just got word that The Expanse is saved,” Bezos said to a big applause. “The show is extraordinary and these guys are unbelievably talented."

Alcon Television Group, which fully finances and produces The Expanse, had been in talks with Amazon about picking up the critically praised series for Season 4. Alcon Entertainment Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson said that: 

“We couldn’t be more excited that The Expanse is going to continue on Amazon Prime! We are deeply grateful that Jeff Bezos, Jen Salke, and their team at Amazon have shown such faith in our show. We also want to thank Laura Lancaster, head of Alcon Television, for her tireless efforts. We are fully aware that this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the staggering outpouring of support from the most creative, hardest working sci-fi fans around the world. From reddit campaigns to airplanes, we say thank you. It worked!” 

 Based on a series of books by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham, The Expanse filled a void that was left by shows like Battlestar GalacticaIt is about a colonial conspiracy set in the future. It stars Steven Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dominique Tipper, Cas Anvar, Wes Chatham and Frankie Adams. 

Amazon, along with Netflix, had been the two main targets for the fans behind the #SaveTheExpanse campaign. There has been a major effort to get one of the companies to pick up the show since Syfy decided not to renew the show for a fourth season. The fan campaign has included a petition and a GoFundMe page, which was used to collect money for a #SaveTheExpanse banner to be flown over the Amazon headquarters last week.

Any deal had some complications due to the complex SVOD rights. Amazon owns the North American SVOD rights to The Expanse, while Netflix carries the series globally outside of North America and New Zealand. The cancellation by Syfy was said to be at least be partially due to their agreement for the series, which only gives the cable network first-run linear rights in the U.S. That puts an extraordinary amount of emphasis on lSyfy generating live viewing, which is difficult for a series that tends to draw most of its audience from digital and streaming. This is the type of show that a streaming platform would look for.

This is exactly the type of show a streaming platform would be interested in. Additionally, Amazon has been looking to beef up its portfolio of original genre drama series, so The Expanse fits into that effort.