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The space opera Dark Matter first aired on the Space Channel in Canada and on SyFy in the United States in June. The science fiction series showed the awakening of six people from stasis aboard a starship, none of whom had any recollection of who they were or why they were on the ship. After three seasons, although the show had developed an avid, even cult following, SyFy canceled the series on September 1, after three seasons and 39 episodes. The news was announced by the show’s co-creator, Joseph Mallozzi, on his personal blog and later confirmed by the network.
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Fans of the show immediately took to the internet to express their outrage at this decision. They sent angry emails to the network, tweeted their support for the cast members, and launched petitions online to save the show. They also wrote to Netflix and Amazon, urging them to pick up the show for another season that would tie up loose ends and give fans closure. Unfortunately, on this date it seems conclusive: there will be no resurrection for Dark Matter.back to menu ↑
What is dark matter all about?
Dark Matter is a story about six seemingly disconnected people who one day woke up from stasis aboard the Raza spaceship. With no recollection of their lives or their identities, they assume the names One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six in the order in which they woke up. Over the course of three seasons, they would learn about their past lives and the events that brought them aboard the Raza.
Dark Matter, based on the eponymous comic written by its creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, was originally developed for the Canadian specialty television channel Space by Toronto-based Prodigy Pictures. SyFy joined the project late and ordered a 13-episode first season.
Filmed entirely in Toronto and starring mostly unknown young actors, the series debuted on June 12. A week later, he was joined by “Killjoys,” another sci-fi series made for the Space network and picked up by SyFy for broadcast in the United States. Neither show was hugely successful, but both had respectable viewership numbers and quickly developed a cult following.
For the next three seasons, Dark Matter and Killjoys would occupy SyFy’s Friday night prime time during the summer months. During their third season, both shows averaged around 0.6 rating points in the coveted 18-49 demographic. However, after the season ended, only Dark Matter was canceled. Killjoys survived the network’s show purge, landing a final season deal along the way.back to menu ↑
Why was Dark Matter canceled?
Many sources claimed that Dark Matter was canceled due to low ratings, but there is more to it than that. After all, it was SyFy’s second-highest-rated show after Killjoys and regularly outperformed the network’s other two primetime shows, Wynonna Earp (0.5 18-49) and 12 Monkeys (0.35 18-49), both. renovated at that time.
These ratings may seem low compared to broadcast TV, but they’re pretty good for a niche cable network like SyFy. And let’s be honest: the glory days when new Battlestar Galactica episodes averaged a 2.0 rating for SyFy are long gone. The media landscape is very different from what it was in the mid-1990s, and all television networks have experienced steep ratings drops over the years.
The show’s co-creator, Joseph Mallozzi, offered another explanation for the cancellation. I mean, Dark Matter is not a SyFy original in the true sense of the word. Neither the network nor its parent company (NBC Universal) own the distribution rights to the show, which means they can’t make a profit by selling it to international buyers, designing distribution deals, or selling seasons of the show to streaming platforms. Instead, distribution rights are the sole property of the show’s producer, Prodigy Pictures.
Killjoys, meanwhile, is a co-production between Bell Media of Canada and Universal Cable Productions (UCP). In fact, UCP holds the worldwide distribution rights to the series, so whenever it is sold to a broadcast platform or overseas television station, its parent company NBC Universal, which also owns SyFy, will receive a considerable part of the profits. As such, even if the show underperformed on SyFy, the network would still have a way to profit from international syndication.
Based on this information, it is clear that SyFy canceled Dark Matter primarily for financial reasons and not for its ratings, which were better than most of SyFy’s lineup. Unfortunately, this has become a common phenomenon in television ratings land, as entertainment companies start more streaming services looking to build their portfolios with their own originals.back to menu ↑
Why would Netflix or Amazon want to save the show?
Netflix has a long history of saving shows that were canceled by broadcast and cable networks. When “Dark Matter” was canceled in January, they had successfully rescued Arrested Development, The Killing, Longmire and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the last of which was canceled before airing on NBC. Similarly, Amazon Prime Video picked up its first save show with SyFy’s The Expanse a year after Dark Matter closed.
It’s wrong to say that streaming platforms don’t care about ratings, but when it comes to the most important aspect of streaming, most services go beyond typical ratings. Instead, they want their shows to build a large following online and generate strong word of mouth that attracts new subscribers. Historically, science fiction shows have not performed as well in terms of ratings, but they have all managed to build a cult following, especially in the online community. So it’s no wonder that Dark Matter fans and creators turned to Netflix or Amazon to give their show a chance to survive.back to menu ↑
Did Netflix or Amazon choose Dark Matter Season 4?
Before Netflix or Amazon could pick up the show, SyFy still had the option to order additional episodes. That is why the creators proposed a fourth season of six episodes that would close the story. The network took some time to consider this proposal, but eventually they rejected the idea.
The creators of Dark Matter then began talking to representatives of Netflix and other popular streaming platforms. Although some of them expressed interest in renewing the show for a fourth season, it was too late. By failing to renew the show in a timely manner, SyFy effectively allowed the cast members’ contracts to expire. Therefore, they had the freedom to pursue other projects and many of them have already booked new shows.
To retake the show for another season, Netflix would not only have to renegotiate contracts with each of the cast members, but they would also likely have to rework some roles due to scheduling conflicts. The simple truth is, fans wouldn’t want to watch their favorite show with half the original cast members replaced. And that’s the main reason Netflix and Amazon haven’t chosen the show.
At one point, it seemed like the show could be picked up by MGM’s Stargate Command streaming platform. The renowned studio wanted to expand the Dark Matter universe to intersect with the platform’s only original show, Stargate Origins. Mallozzi was very excited about this, especially since he spent more than a decade as a writer on the Stargate television franchise, which was SyFy’s biggest hit until the 2003 Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Unfortunately, all of these plans failed due to contractual issues. And so it became clear that fans won’t be watching Dark Matter season four any time soon.back to menu ↑
Will there be more “dark matter” in the future?
Since then, everyone involved in Dark Matter has moved on to new projects. But the creators are still hopeful that the show will return in the future, even as a two-hour reunion movie that would resolve the obstacles from the season 3 finale and conclude all the ongoing stories. It could take years to reach an agreement, negotiate contracts, and find a way to synchronize schedules.
Meanwhile, Mallozzi has been posting extensive descriptions of his planned fourth season episodes on his Twitter account, as well as on his personal blog. This gives fans a chance to learn what would have happened to their favorite characters if the show had been cast for another season.
However, as of this date, it seems clear that there is simply no interest from any of the players who would need to reboot. So, for now at least, rest in peace Dark Matter.back to menu ↑
Final words: Was Dark Matter Season 4 Picked Up by Netflix or Amazon Yet?
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