|Cancellation FAQ from SciFi|
The comments in the yucky shade of yellow are mine (PKBarb) and do not necessarily reflect the views of either Karlsweb or the other members of its staff.
Q: SCI FI cited poor ratings as a reason for the
cancellation. Aren't the ratings as high as they have ever been?
A: The fact is, ratings for the series have declined. Farscape's average primetime rating for original episodes in 2001
was a 1.4 [1,611,000 actual viewers] (Farscape's
"rating" represents the percentage of homes that can get SCI FI Channel that tuned into the
show). The show peaked in March 2001 with the season 3 premiere earning a 1.9. However, in 2002,
season four's original episodes averaged a 1.2 [1,544,000 viewers]. Also, despite the fact that SCI FI
is now available in nearly 3 million more homes than it was during season 3, the actual number of
viewers for Farscape has gone down.
Stargate SG-1 is an established show, coming from an established channel. Even if they had lost half
of their viewers it would have gotten better ratings than Farscape. [Not that Farscape is bad, but the
SCI FI channel itself doesn't attract a large viewership, probably because of its reputation as the
Rerun Channel.] The Invisible Man was a new show, a SCI FI original. (Which they also dumped, by the
way.) Of course Farscape would have increases viewers over The Invisible Man. Stargate SG-1 took over
Farscape’s previous ideal time period of 9 pm. Stargate’s previous season had just, within weeks,
finished it’s run on Showtime with a cliffhanger. Farscape had been off the air for seven months.
A: While it is true that there was no rise in production costs
between seasons 4 and 5, there was a very steep rise in cost between seasons 3 and 4. At that time,
the cost-benefit ratio was far more equitable - Farscape
was the highest rated original series on the Channel and it consistently performed well. In light of
the fact that the ratings failed to maintain, and actually suffered a decline during season 4, the
overall high cost to produce Farscape became an issue.
We were faced with a show that was costing considerably more than it had during its first three
seasons, while attracting a smaller audience. Farscape
was failing to meet its advertising estimates and its continuation for a full 22-episode fifth season
no longer made financial sense.
The overall ratings may have gone down, but what about demographics? Of their average viewership, the
sought-after adults 18-49 was an excellent 913,000. These are the people who buy from the advertisers,
folks, the exact group that programs want to attract. These are also the numbers that SciFi was
bragging about at approximately the same time it was in the process of cancelling Farscape.
A: SCI FI had every intention of going forward with season 5 when the
initial deal was made. However, with the slip in ratings, we could not justify production of another
22 episodes at Farscape's current high cost. We then
immediately began an aggressive pursuit of a shortened 13-episode season 5. We did this knowing that
we would be forced to incur significant financial penalties, above and beyond the usual per-episode
cost of production. Up until the last moment, we all believed that this would work out. Unfortunately,
we could not come to terms with our production partners. We certainly did not want to see Farscape end abruptly. We are disappointed to have the series end
PKB: The operative words here are “when the deal was made.” If they were so hot to produce a fifth season, why did they have an out-clause in the contract?
shortened “13-episode season 5” business be the reason SciFi tried to bamboozle viewers into
believing that episode 411 was a season finale? “Hey, maybe these bozos can’t count to 22!”
A: Farscape was moved
to the 10pm spot in the hopes that new SCI FI viewers tuning into the debut of Stargate SG-1 would stay around to sample Farscape and become hooked on the show. For the first few weeks
of the new SCI FI Friday lineup, we even created special episodic promotions for Farscape that aired within Stargate, in an effort to push viewers
to Farscape. However, despite the fact that large
numbers of new viewers did show up to watch Stargate, not enough of them stayed tuned for Farscape.
A: This is a misconception. SCI FI made a conscious decision to
promote both Friday night original series equally. All of our promotion was directed at the night -
SCI FI Fridays. Therefore, Farscape received equal advertising and promotional dollars as Stargate SG-1, and received more marketing support for the launch
of season 4 than it had at any other time aside from its premiere. In fact, over the years, SCI FI has
dedicated more promotional dollars to Farscape than to
any other SCI FI original series.
A: Despite what many seem to believe, those who work at SCI FI
Channel truly love Farscape. It was one of our first
original series, and became our signature show. With four full seasons, it is also the Channel's
longest running original series. However, television is a business and despite every effort on our
part, with the ratings dipping, the Channel could not commit to the high financial cost of producing
another season. We were deeply involved in Farscape's inception and development and continue to be extremely proud of the series. Farscape was birthed here and ran for four full seasons - it was
a very difficult decision.
A: No. Negotiations for the series are completely separate. The
decision to end Farscape after season 4 was based solely
on its ratings performance in relation to its high cost of production. Whether we do more episodes of
Stargate or not has nothing to do with Farscape.
A: SCI FI has not been approached to release Farscape to another network. From what we understand, despite
efforts otherwise, there was no deal possibility for the show at any other network.
A: Actually, SCI FI did not make the announcement. As of close of
business on Friday, September 6, we were still in negotiations regarding Farscape's future. Late that night, unbeknownst to SCI FI, the
cancellation was announced to fans via an impromptu online chat conducted by a few people at the
production. We confirmed the news when it became official on Monday morning.
A: This is not the practice of the Channel. However, we have
requested that fans direct their e-mails to a specific e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) in order for us to monitor and keep
track of their messages. It is only when messages are sent directly to SCI FI employees that there is
a danger of deletion, since our mailboxes can only handle a certain volume of e-mails. They simply
cannot all be read. We request viewers to direct their messages to the appropriate addresses. Viewers
are also encouraged to direct their phone calls to our Viewer Hotline, (212) 413-5679, which is
checked frequently throughout each business day.
A: Once again, there is no truth to those rumors. Farscape's greatest supporters can be found at the Channel. Farscape's creator, Rockne O'Bannon, has even been quoted in a
recent interview as stating that SCI FI Channel President "Bonnie (Hammer) has always been a real
strong supporter of the series and seen the value in it." This has been an extraordinarily
difficult decision to reach for all of us here at SCI FI, at every level.
A: Although they were initially scheduled to be struck during the
week of September 9, SCI FI Channel requested a reprieve as any possibility of saving the series was
explored. Unfortunately, we understand that the sets will now be struck by Friday, September 20.
A: No. The remaining eleven new episodes of season 4 will begin
airing in January. Additionally, SCI FI will air an 11-episode Farscape
Chain Reaction on December 24 from 8am - 7pm ET/PT. After the conclusion of season 4, all four seasons
of Farscape will continue to air on SCI FI in repeats.
PKB: People have been asking that for a long time. I’ve had friends ask me why Farscape was cancelled several
times over the last three years. Usually when a show is between seasons, they show reruns of it. It
sort of acts as a placeholder and people know that at such and such a time, they can see their
favorite show. Farscape, in its first three and a half years, has had three different time periods and
experienced gaps of up to seven months between episodes. Perhaps if SCI FI had rerun the show during
the hiatus it would have had a chance.