Syfy’s new space opera The Expanse , based on the James S.A. Corey series of books, gets to have a happy new year as word broke today that the show will be returning for a second season. The renewal was definitely not guaranteed because the show has pulled pretty low ratings for its linear broadcasts through its first four episodes. The first two installments had Syfy’s mini-series adaptation of Childhood’s End as a lead in and averaged just a 0.3 rating based on the overnights for 18-49 demographic. That was the level that Syfy’s Defiance and Dominion were performing at this past Summer before getting cancelled. The Expanse slipped even further with its last two episodes, averaging just a 0.16 rating. But Syfy has been pushing hard for online viewing, releasing the premiere episode several weeks early for streaming and then making episodes three and four available online immediately after the first two installments aired. According to Deadline Hollywood, the premiere has been “sampled” at least 4.5 million times so far (I believe that means at least part of the episode was watched) which seems like a decent tally (that number is hard to gauge with little to compare it to). Syfy has been known to renew shows with low ratings in their first seasons over the last few years as Dominion, Helix, and 12 Monkeys all received a second season nod after mediocre to poor ratings performance in their first years. So the network has been giving shows a chance to prove themselves. The Expanse is definitely an expensive production, but Deadline Hollywood notes that the shows production company is also financing it, so perhaps they have worked out a deal that makes it more affordable for Syfy. How much longer it can stay afloat if its ratings stay low, though, remains to be seen. But perhaps Syfy’s focus on digital viewing is a good thing as its tech-savy viewerbase is certainly amenable to that platform. And if the network shifts its advertising focus to the online streams, that may bring in enough revenue to keep the show going. For now, at least, we know that another season is on the way and perhaps more will follow.