Syfy’s supernatural western Wynonna Earp returns for its new season on July 20th at 10 PM EST, and I believe it is time for fans to start prepping to show their support because it will be at a crossroads this year. That show, which has experienced perpetually low ratings, will be entering its third season, and that appears to be the point at which its network makes the decision on whether to keep a series going or send it to the Network Executioner. Over the past year, two other shows have been cut short by Syfy after their third seasons, Dark Matter and The Expanse (though the latter show was saved by Amazon), and Wynonna Earp is in a similar position that led to both of those getting the ax.
Since Haven ended its run after five years in 2015, only four shows have survived past their third season on Syfy. The Magicians was renewed for a fourth year this season because it is the network’s highest rated show. Z Nation is heading into its fifth year and it has regularly been one of Syfy’s top-rated shows (though it dropped off notably in its fourth season). That one is also inexpensive to produce because it comes from The Asylum, well-known for low budget productions. 12 Monkeys was renewed through a fourth and final season (which just aired) despite low ratings, but NBCUniversal–Syfy’s parent company–has an ownership stake in the show. Killjoys was renewed through a fifth and final season despite ratings drop-offs in its third year, but again NBCUniversal has partial ownership of that one.
Dark Matter and The Expanse both share similarities that led to their third season cancellations by Syfy, and Wynonna Earp is in the same boat as well. NBCUniversal does not have an ownership stake in either of those first two shows and both of those suffered from low ratings in their third seasons (The Expanse was actually up slightly year-over-year, but it was low compared to its production costs). The deal that Syfy had on those only brings a profit to the network if add revenue from same day viewing is sufficient to offset the license fee. The network did not have streaming deals in place for either of those because it did not own them, and add revenue from streaming on Syfy.com was apparently not enough to close the gap.
If reliance on same day ratings seems like old school thinking, you’re absolutely correct and Syfy is very much out of touch with the current television landscape and the audience that views its shows (more on that in an upcoming post). And that should be of concern to Wynonna Earp fans. The network does not have and ownership stake in that show and the ratings have been consistently low through its first two seasons. It has received a fair amount of good buzz, and it does have a very loyal and vocal fanbase, but the same was true of Dark Matter and The Expanse and it did not save them. In Wynonna Earp‘s favor is the fact that it is relatively inexpensive to produce, likely a lot cheaper than the two shows above. But its ratings are notably lower, with Wynonna Earp averaging only a 0.12 rating (based on same day viewing) in its second season vs. 0.15 for Dark Matter last Summer and 0.18 for The Expanse this Spring.
All of this suggests to me that short of a ratings surge when Wynonna Earp returns, it’s chances of surviving to a fourth year are not good. But there is hope and this is where the fans can step in an make a difference. A Call to Action is definitely needed at this point to keep the show alive, and fans should take to the social nets right away to bring it more attention. This is a one that people can pickup on without having seen the first couple of seasons (and they can catch up with the first two seasons on Netflix), so if the current fanbase can drive more viewers to it this year that could definitely help it out. In addition, a strong outpouring of support could set the stage for the next step in the case that Syfy pulls the plug on it. We have already seen The Expanse and Lucifer get saved from cancellation this season, and Wynonna Earp will likely draw plenty of attention because of the good buzz it has received and the fact that it is less expensive to produce.
I’m not saying at this point that Syfy will definitely cancel the show. But looking at past trends, the prognostication does not look good, especially if the show’s ratings slip in its third season (and the numbers have been on a downward slide for all of the network’s shows of late). But Wynonna Earp has a huge asset in its strong fanbase that stretches across the globe. They need to organize and start showing their support on the social networks as the show kicks off its third season, and they need to be ready to go full assault if Syfy wavers on that fourth season renewal nod.