Season 3 ends in March, and Season 4 was just greenlighted:
For a while, things looked iffy for “Battlestar Galactica.” After the Sci Fi Channel last month moved the third-season drama about a human resistance movement against an occupying race of robots from Friday nights to Sunday nights in an attempt to goose ratings, viewership remained stagnant.
The network has ruled, however, that the show won’t live by numbers alone: The Sci Fi Channel is expected to announce Tuesday that it has renewed the series for a fourth season. At least 13 new episodes will be produced this summer for a premiere next January.
The show’s audience has always been modest, especially when compared with those for basic cable’s “The Closer” and “Nip/Tuck,” which typically reach double or triple the audience of “Battlestar Galactica.” Since moving to 10 p.m. Sundays, the science-fiction show’s episodes have averaged 1.7 million viewers overall and 1.1 viewers ages 18 to 49, the key demographic targeted by advertisers.
But “Battlestar Galactica” stands as one of the most critically acclaimed series on television. It also won the prestigious Peabody Award and was counted among the American Film Institute’s top 10 outstanding TV programs two years in a row. Critics often describe the show in lofty terms, referring to it as a multilayered allegory for a post-9/11 world that raises questions about the ethics and politics of war.
The Sci Fi Channel cites the series’ strong buzz and critical praise – a halo effect that can’t be quantified in ratings points or ad dollars – as the reason for its renewal.
I am thankful. Ratings alone shouldn’t be the sole driver for a series viability; the article mentions that strong DVD sales were also taken into account. Ultimately if you cater towards ratings and nothing else, you are explicitly aiming for least-common denominator fare. That about fits my low expectations for broadcast TV but SciFi, as a cable network, knows better.
That said, am I a hypocrite? I don’t actually contribute to the Galactica revenue stream in any way directly. If I had the option of a la carte cable, SciFi would be on my list of channels I’d pay for in a nanosecond. I’d also be willing to pay a dollar or two if I could download the episodes to burn to DVD without commercial breaks. But that’s not an option either. So I have to torrent the show to stay current; and Galactica’s future remains under threat for want of revenue. Surely the cable companies and content providers have an incentive to offer me, the consumer, better models for consumption? Wouldn’t we all benefit? Except for producers of reality television, of course. They must have a good lobby.