What Happened To The Expanse? Why Is It On Amazon Prime Instead Of SYFY TV?

By Rick Gonzales

What happened to The Expanse? If you’ve checked your upcoming TV schedule you probably wondering where it is. Don’t worry, The Expanse isn’t gone, it’s gone somewhere else.

In December of 2015, the SYFY Network brought the popular book series The Expanse to television with much fanfare. Based on eight science fiction novels by author James S. A. Corey (which happens to be the joint pen name of authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) the series followed a band of antiheroes and was set in a world hundreds of years in the future. In this future, the solar system has been colonized and our antiheroes find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy – the search for a missing person – which ultimately threatens the peace of the entire solar system.

The SYFY Network carried The Expanse for its first 3 seasons, season one comprised of ten episodes while season two and three both aired thirteen episodes. When SYFY announced they were bringing the series to the channel it was, at that time, SYFY’s most ambitious. The epic-ness of its scope and scale was welcome news to the ears of the fans of the popular novels. Season one, which starred Thomas Jane, Steven Strait and Shohreh Aghdashloo, was widely praised for character development, political narrative and amazing visuals.

The Expanse had a popular run on SYFY, garnering audience reviews of 76% for season one, 95% for season two and 100% for season three. The critical reviews for the series were just as good, so it came as a shock to many that after three seasons, SYFY cancelled the whole thing.

But why did SYFY cancel the super popular space opera? The most logical answer comes in the form of rights. The agreement the show operated under only gave SYFY first-run linear rights in the United States. This means that SYFY only had the rights to show episodes on their cable network. When The Expanse moved to a streaming platform such as Netflix, SYFY received nothing. For any type of long-term revenue, the network needed revenue from streaming services to keep the series going. With The Expanse available on SYFY while also being available to purchase on Amazon or iTunes, it just wasn’t able to generate enough revenue. Therefore, SYFY had no choice but to move on from the popular show.

The producers and financiers of The Expanse, were obviously disappointed with SYFYs cancellation of the series but vowed to their audience that they would search for another partner so they could continue the well-received series. Fan reception of the cancellation news hit and a protest ensued. An online petition snagged over 100,000 signatures. George R.R. Martin, Wil Wheaton, and Patton Oswalt were just a few of the celebrities who supported the protest. Fans even lobbied to both Netflix and Amazon in hopes that either of the streaming services would pick up the show.

The future looked bleak The Expanse. It looked bleak for all those involved in the production. The problem at the time was that Netflix already had a few good science fiction shows of their own, like Lost In Space and Altered Carbon. Apple was producing a series of their own based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, and Amazon was working on the highly anticipated follow-up to the Lord of the Rings films. It took some time and patience from all involved. But it was all worth it.

In May of 2018, Amazon announced that it was picking up an additional season of The Expanse. Amazon Prime Video will be releasing the entire ten-episode season four on December 13 of 2019. But there’s more. More seasons! Announced during the summer press tour of the Television Critics Association, Amazon let fans know that season five has been picked up and production will begin soon.

In the past, the first two seasons of The Expanse were also available on Netflix. Going forward it can only be found on Amazon Prime, as the sole distributors of the series. Like Netflix and Hulu, Amazon Prime is a streaming service that can be obtained for a monthly fee. Simple enough to find on one’s Amazon account and easy enough to sign up for, fans of The Expanse should be delighted to know we’re getting at least two more seasons!