The Expanse has hit a ratings peak at the most critical time possible.
This week, Syfy announced that it would be canceling the popular space drama, leading fans of the show to start a viral campaign to save it by pitching the show to other networks, largely the streaming services Netflix and Amazon. Fans had been pushing for a big viewership for this week’s episode in the hope of proving its staying power, and it appears to have worked.
Overnight ratings numbers showed that the May 16 episode drew an audience of 609,000, one of the highest-rated episodes in more than two years. The April 11 season premiere was one of only two episodes in the past two years to top that total, drawing 654,000 viewers. The March 1, 2017, episode attracted 625,000 viewers. Beyond that, it had been nearly two years since the show consistently topped 600,000 viewers. The all-time ratings high for The Expanse came for its pilot episode in December 2015, when it drew 1.19 million viewers. The show was a cornerstone of Syfy’s rebranding effort that saw it shift to more science-fiction programming.
The latest episode of The Expanse is drawing more than ratings. It was also praised as one of the best episodes from the show this season, with Gizmodo calling it a “game-changing episode.”
The campaign to save The Expanse has seen a high level of coordination among fans. While many fan-launched campaigns to bring programs back from the dead consist mostly of online petitions or pushing Twitter hashtags, the fans of The Expanse have taken a more systematic approach, mostly centered around the show’s Reddit page. There, a fan shared a YouTube video he made pitching to save the show and a post from the r/television subreddit that reached the site’s front page on Wednesday called on people to tune in to give the show a ratings boost.
Many of the show’s celebrity fans joined in, including Wil Wheaton, who encouraged fans to watch this week’s episode on television and through streaming services. The show’s writers have been a key peg in on the campaign as well.
Remember appt TV?Before OnDemand & DVR?Let’s try it 2nite-w/ #TheExpanse. Live viewing #s are the loudest way to shout! & we’ll all be on the edge of our seats watching w/you! This gang worked really hard & are proud to share this w/you all✨ #WatchTheExpanseLive #SaveTheExpanse pic.twitter.com/z55GSj7qp9— The Expanse Writers (@TheExpanseWR) May 16, 2018
If you want to #SaveTheExpanse, this is very good advice. Potential networks (oh hai @netflix) will be watching numbers to see how big the audience is. This is a great opportunity to coordinate a massive viewing to show them how much we love #TheExpanse. https://t.co/2ysdQ4aRfs— Wil 'this account mocks fascists' Wheaton (@wilw) May 16, 2018
The Expanse does have an online petition as well, one that topped 100,000 signatures on Thursday. Other fans of the show hired an airplane to fly a message outside the Amazon Studios headquarters in Santa Monica.
Attention Earthers, Belters, Martians:— Cas Anvar (@Casanvar) May 16, 2018
Pilot Kamal here. #TheExpanse needs you tonight.
You've heard me say we need to trend and tweet. Only TWO hashtags per tweet. Ok, TWO per tweet. Feel free to alternate.
BUT #TheExpanse MUST be in each tweet!! Ya'll got it? pic.twitter.com/q726vj1b0C
While The Expanse was able to hit a ratings peak with its episode on Wednesday, the streaming number were not as readily available. But judging simply by the fan reaction over the last week and the attention the campaign has gotten, it would seem clear that the efforts have caught the attention of Netflix and Amazon.