The news comes 10 days after Syfy canceled the space drama after three seasons.
Amazon Studios is in talks to revive one of CEO Jeff Bezos’ favorite properties.
The retailer and streaming outlet is near a deal to revive space drama The Expanse for a fourth season just 10 days after Syfy canceled the series. Amazon Studios declined comment as sources note the deal is not closed.
Starring Steven Strait and based on James S.A. Comedy’s best-selling book series of the same name, Syfy had only first-run linear rights in the U.S. to The Expanse. Amazon Studios had streaming rights to the first three seasons of the show. Sources say Bezos is a big fan of the book and was livid that the TV series went to NBCUniversal-owned Syfy. The move is said to have ignited Bezos’ demand that Amazon Studios brass find the company’s version of Game of Thrones.
The Expanse was a pricey swing for Syfy and the nature of the deal put additional pressure for the show to perform on its linear network as the cabler did not have either SVOD or international rights to profit from. (Netflix had international rights to the series.) The Expanse was Syfy’s first major push back into the traditional science fiction genre.
Following the cancellation, producers Alcon Television Group — which fully financed and produced the series — planned to shop the space drama to other networks.
Opening to promising reviews and a strong collection of loyal viewers, its first season averaged 581,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, and 1.4 million total viewers with three days of DVR. Season two, which returned more than a year later with a significant marketing push and a solid lead-in, was down 24 percent among total viewers and averaged 457,000 total viewers. That compares more to similar returns for Syfy’s inexpensive co-productions like Dark Matter and Killjoys, than to the cabler’s original scripted series like The Magicians and Happy.
Its third season, which returned in April, tumbled another 5 percent among total viewers and 12 percent in the demo from season two.
“The Expanse transported us across the solar system for three brilliant seasons of television. Everyone at Syfy is a massive fan of the series, and this was an incredibly difficult decision,” said Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks at NBCU Cable Entertainment. “We want to sincerely thank The Expanse’s amazing cast, crew and all the dedicated creatives who helped bring James S.A. Corey’s story to life. And to the series’ loyal fans, we thank you most of all.”
The decision to bring The Expanse to its end comes as Syfy has a packed scripted roster that also includes the upcoming George R.R. Martin drama Nightflyers, The Purge, Deadly Class, Krypton, The Magicians, anthology Channel Zero, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp and Killjoys, with the latter set to wrap in 2019. The Expanse will be Syfy’s second series to conclude this year, joining 12 Monkeys.
Starring Strait, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Dominique Tipper, The Expanse is set in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men) served as showrunners and exec produced the Alcon TV Group drama alongside Naren Shankar.
At Amazon, The Expanse will join a growing roster of genre programming including its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV franchise, Jordan Peele’s Nazi hunting drama series, Gillian Flynn’s Utopia remake, futuristic drama The Peripheral, from Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan; Consider Phlebas and a reboot of Hanna, among others.
The Expanse move follows a busy week of news on the broadcast side that saw Brooklyn Nine-Nine move from Fox to NBC after the former’s cancellation and Fox revive Last Man Standing. In both cases, the networks’ studio counterparts owned the show making the jump to their respective home networks considerably easier. In this case, Amazon had the SVOD rights to The Expanse, making a move to a different outlet more challenging.