First STAR TREK, then THE EXPANSE, now THE ORVILLE…is this the beginning of the end for “free” TV sci-fi???

Before I begin, let me explain that the purpose of this unique blog is to bring folks up to speed about what the HECK is going on with all of these new streaming TV services that are suddenly appearing like clowns getting out of a Volkswagen. I’m going to focus mainly on how this is affecting the sci-fi genre of television shows…although the impact is pretty much across the board. Then I want to explain why it’s happening so fast, why it’s not going away anytime soon, and then speculate on where this is all heading in the future.

I began working on this blog a month ago when Seth MacFarlane announced the The Orville would be moving from the FOX broadcasting network to behind a paywall at Hulu. Since then, I’ve been researching like crazy! And each time I thought I’d gotten the blog finished, there’d be more “BIG” streaming announcements from folks like NBCUniversal and, just last week, Disney. Eventually, though, I just needed to pull the trigger…knowing that parts of this blog are gonna be old news almost as soon as I hit “Publish.”

I do want to apologize if this is a longer blog than usual, but there’s just SO much going on, and I want to help you folks process it all like I just managed to do…mostly. Also, I’m going to focus mainly on America only because, once you head internationally, the shows and services all shift around and this poor blog would be six times as long!

Remember when automated teller machines (ATMs) first started being installed at banks? I can’t remember if it was still the 1970s or the early 1980s; I only remember that hardly anybody used ’em. Why risk your hard-earned money on a “fallible” computer when you could deal with a competent human being you could talk to?

The same thing happened when e-commerce first appeared. The idea of entering your credit card information onto a website in order to buy something seemed…overwhelming! Was it safe? Would the thing I just ordered even arrive? How long would it take? Why not just go to the store like everyone else, buy something, pay for it, and take it home?

We were so naive back then, weren’t we? It just took us a decade or so to get used to the “new normal,” and now everything is so much easier, faster, and more convenient.

So is paywall streaming TV the “new normal”?

Continue reading “First STAR TREK, then THE EXPANSE, now THE ORVILLE…is this the beginning of the end for “free” TV sci-fi???”

Confirmed: THE EXPANSE will have a FOURTH SEASON!

Okay, you can officially stop trying to save THE EXPANSE because Amazon has just saved it…in rather dramatic fashion!

Barely two weeks after The Expanse was canceled by Syfy, and after concerted efforts by fans, cast, and crew to try to rally support and revive the series, Amazon Studios and Alcon Entertainment announced that yes, there WILL be a fourth season of this critically-acclaimed, fan-favorite space sci-fi series.  It will appear on Amazon Prime.

The news became official during a break for dinner at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles this past Friday night.  Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced to people at the gathering:

“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!”

The room—which included many fans of the show since it features a very realistic portrayal of life in our solar system in the next two hundred years or so—burst into enthusiastic applause.  Bezos then added:

“The show is extraordinary, and these guys are unbelievably talented,” as he pointed to The Expanse table.

The grass-roots effort to rescue the show reminded me of other fan attempts to save beloved series like Star Trek: Enterprise, Farscape, Firefly, and others…all with mixed results.  What is amazing to me is that now, with so many subscription services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and others—all looking for popular content (and often flush with cash!)—network cancelation isn’t nearly as certain or permanent a fate as it used to be.  Imagine if Fox had canceled Firefly today.  If Netflix had a streaming deal for the series, might they have tried to pick up the show the same way that Amazon just picked up The Expanse?  One wonders.

Anyway, three cheers for Jeff Bezos and Amazon Studios!  It’s nice to see the fans win every so often.  Now, if only there might be some way to resurrect Lucifer from cancellation, as well…

THE EXPANSE might get a FOURTH season after all!

Well, it’s not “mission accomplished: just yet, but just 10 days after Syfy announced the cancellation of the critically-acclaimed and deeply-loved space sci-fi series THE EXPANSE, word has come down that Amazon is in discussions to pick up the show for a fourth season to air on Amazon Prime!  It’s still too early for fans to pop the champagne corks, but we’re definitely in a much more optimistic place than we were last Friday when I posted this urgent blog.

Now, as much as I’d like to believe this move was the result of fans hiring a place to fly a banner over the Amazon Studios in Santa Monica saying #SaveTheExpanse and sending Jim Holden-inspired coffee care packages to employees at Amazon, there’s actually quite a bit more going on.

First, Syfy canceled the show because, quite frankly, they had a terrible deal.  The series is very expensive to produce.  Syfy didn’t own the show and only had the ability to make money from selling advertising on the airings of The Expanse on their network in the U.S.  Netflix has the international rights, and Amazon has the SVOD (streaming video on demand) rights for the U.S.

And that pre-existing deal that Amazon had for the SVOD rights meant they already had some skin in the game on this series.  But add to that the fact that, reportedly, Amazon CEO Bezos is a big fan of The Expanse book series.  Back when the TV series was first being shopped around, Amazon lost the bid to Syfy (owned by NBCUniversal).  Bezos was apparently furious and told his people he wanted them to go out and find a Game of Thrones-level show like The Expanse for Amazon Prime.  And now Bezos might finally be getting exactly what he wanted…along with a last laugh at the company that outbid him for The Expanse in the first place.

In the meantime, folks, please keep watching The Expanse within three days of its first airing on Wednesday nights at 9pm Eastern (8pm Central) on Syfy.  The more profitable we make this show look, the better!

Save THE EXPANSE by NOT binge-watching it! (URGENT!)

I admit it: I got THE EXPANSE canceled by Syfy.

I didn’t mean to.  It’s just that I’ve fallen so far behind in my TV watching that I’m still on stuff that first aired back in April!  I’ve been collecting the season 3 episodes The Expanse on my DVR to binge-watch over the summer at some point when I have more time…something I did for the previous two seasons, as well.

And that’a why the series just got canceled!

The Expanse, based one the Hugo Award-winning book series by the same name, debuts new episodes each Wednesday night at 9pm (8pm Central) on the Syfy Network.  While the series is more complex than most other sci-fi series out there—it’s been called “Game of Thrones in space” (which is pretty spot on)—it’s amazingly well-produced with great acting and awesome visual FX that show outer space and zero-G physics incredibly accurately.

It’s rated 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and those fans who, like me, have stuck with the show consider it to be one of the finest television space sci-fi series on the air.

That’s why we were dumbfounded last week when Syfy announced that this critically-acclaimed, fan-favorite series would be canceled after its third season.  Supporters immediately mobilized, starting an online petition (which already has over 110,000 signatures), creating a website and #SaveTheExpanse, and posting this very well-edited video reminding fans why The Expanse is so good and worth saving…

By this past Tuesday, thousands of fans had raised enough money on GoFundMe to hire a plane to fly a banner over the Santa Monica, CA offices of Amazon Studios trying to convince Jeff Bezos to pick up the series on Amazon Prime…

There’s also been a concerted letter-writing campaign to Netflix executives trying to convince them to pick up the beloved space science fiction series.

With time running out and the Toronto-based Expanse sets already being taken down (some possibly being purchased by Star Trek: Discovery), fans have been working overtime in a valiant attempt at a last-minute rescue of the series.

And then this video got posted…

Continue reading “Save THE EXPANSE by NOT binge-watching it! (URGENT!)”