How Streaming Platforms Have Changed the World of TV
If you’re involved in TV or fandoms on social media in any way, you’ve heard of The Expanse and its 11th hour save that came from the mouth of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, while he was at a dinner with the cast! It was a touching moment of “OMG, we did it!” for the cast and fans (myself included) since so many of us had been tweeting Amazon to “save” The Expanse. The show is based on one of Bezo’s favorite book series of the same name, after all, and Amazon wanted to pick it up originally when Syfy got it instead three years ago. This article is not meant to side eye Syfy channel or its parent company NBC, by the way, just making some observations!
Related: Don’t Give Up on Syfy, Guys
The problems that Syfy has are twofold: they only “licensed” The Expanse, it wasn’t a Syfy original; and they don’t have a SVOD (subscription video on demand - basically a paid app) so the only way to watch episodes and have it “count” towards Syfy’s numbers was live or through the Syfy app, which means that according to Syfy the audience numbers of the show were not stellar.
Like most people my age, I have never had paid cable TV in my life! I found Season 1 of The Expanse on Amazon Prime and have bought Seasons 2 and 3 by the episode as they’ve aired (it’s the only show I do this for, too). When you think about it, Amazon is where this show belongs, considering that most sci-fi/genre shows on TV are watched after they’ve aired through streaming services and are more often than not “binged.”
Moving to Amazon is the best thing that could happen to the show in terms of quality. Amazon is going to throw money at the production of this show, so expect Season 4 to look even better, if that’s possible! Don’t get me wrong, Syfy does an amazing job with the budget and limitations it has for its shows; I can’t wait for Wynonna Earp to come back, for one. At the same time, I feel that networks have got to get with the times and change up the way they do things or they will be left in the dust by all the streaming platforms, with unlimited budgets and risk taking. But the good news is it looks like they are finally learning.
We live in what’s been coined as “The golden age of TV.” And this season of saves is proof as to what makes this such a true statement.
Story time: I was on vacation at Disney World when I heard that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was cancelled by Fox, and I teared up! It was the only sweet hearted comedy left on TV since New Girl had just wrapped. Then, just like the internet to kick a girl when she’s down, I got news that The Expanse had been cancelled — I just fell back on my hotel bed in dismay that networks were SO fickle. (God bless the CW; it at least tells its shows “this is your last season” so they can go out with a finished story.) I went to bed a bit sad that two of the best shows on TV were about to be sleeping the big sleep after their season finales.
When I awoke the next morning, the first thing I saw when I opened Twitter was the headline “NBC saves Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I was giddy! As was Sam, our fab owner here at Truth Bee Told Media, when I woke her up with my phone screen glaring the headline in her face. (Yes, we are grown women who took a girls trip to Disney with our besties.)
So NBC saved Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but its network Syfy still cancelled The Expanse; you can’t win ’em all. The budgets for these two shows are incomparable to each other.
That being said, ten years ago, both of these shows would have been cancelled without a thought; they would still have a sad, devoted fanbase showing up for cons and tweeting about them, but they would more or less fall into the void of “what could’ve been.”
Related: Shows That Deserved Better
But this is the golden age of TV we are in! Networks are starting to listen to the people the way streaming services have for years — think about last year, when NBC cancelled Timeless before taking back their own words and renewing it. And it’s a good thing that networks are adapting their approach! Stranger Things was famously turned down by fifteen, yes fifteen, networks before finding a home at Netflix. How much you wanna bet those fifteen networks are now kicking themselves?
Thanks to streaming platforms and their own studios, we are giving the smaller, quieter, weirder, more artful stories a chance to grow and get a fanbase before cutting them because of numbers. It’s a beautiful thing; the quality that we are getting on our small screens is unparalleled! So support your shows by doing what you can: for network shows, watch live or within three days of airing on their app. On streaming services, binge, rewatch, etc.
The main thing? Be vocal on social media and #hashtag everything: characters, places and things in the show, and tweet at the networks and streaming apps! They check social media stats just as much as they do live watch numbers.
Also word of mouth is a great tool, I’ve gotten everyone on my office floor watching The 100 — people are curious about things that other people are passionate about.
If you find yourself enjoying a show, whether on a network or streaming service, and it’s new or just small, the best way to support it is to talk about it. We really do have a lot of say in what shows make it or don’t. Also, it’s not just a show — it’s hundreds and sometimes thousands of jobs on the line. These people work hard to give us stories that take us out of our world and into fantastic adventures or touching emotional moments.
All of this is to say I am thankful I live in a post-Firefly world where saving a show is possible, and honestly, that’s all thanks to streaming platforms and how their influence has been so far-reaching its made networks have no choice but to adapt.
Here’s looking at you, golden age of TV! 🥂