Syfy’s zombie-pocalypse series Z Nation and its vampire-pocalypse series Van Helsing returned for their current seasons just this past Friday, and even though we only have ratings info for one episode each I believe I have a good gauge of where they stand based on that and other information that I know about the shows.
Z Nation has been one of the highest rated shows on Syfy for the past few years, but it did experience a notable drop in its numbers of over 30% last year. But it was the network’s best performing show in Fall (not including Happy! which got a December start), and it returned this past Friday up slightly from last year’s average (a 0.18 rating vs. its 0.17 mean for Fall 2018). If the show tracks like it did last year, then it will hold at about that number, or possibly drop just a little bit. And since that will keep it as one of Syfy’s top-rated originals, I would say its chances of coming back for a sixth season are pretty good. But even if the ratings slip over the next few weeks, I still think it has a decent chance of coming back for at least one more year.
Assuming thirteen episodes for the current season, that would get Z Nation to a tally of 69 total eps. One more season of thirteen gets the show over 80, and that makes it much more attractive to the syndication market (and a seventh season would be even better). Syfy will likely not benefit from that syndication run because The Asylum owns the show, but I am thinking that the studio will make it worthwhile to the network to keep the show going for another season or two. Z Nation is already a pretty inexpensive acquisition for Syfy (The Asylum–home of the Sharknado films and mockbusters like Triassic World–knows how to work on the cheap) and still pulling acceptable ratings. And even if Syfy does decide to cancel the show, I would bet that The Asylum would seek out other venues to pick up the show, or just go ahead and produce another season to push it over the syndication threshold.
As for Van Helsing, that show is in a more precarious position, and this should serve as a Call to Action for the show’s fans. It is a third season show that is not owned by Syfy and it is not performing well in the ratings. It numbers dropped in its second season by 20% and I only believe that it survived to a third year because the most of the rest of the network’s schedule was a disaster last Fall. But this past Friday, the show posted only a 0.11 rating for its premiere which is down by 13% from last year’s average. These are not good numbers for Syfy which has a very old-school mentality toward shows like this. Since the network does not own it, the primary way they make money is on the advertising during the live broadcast. If the ratings are low, then the network is not making much money. And Syfy doesn’t offer much in the way of streaming options apart from its website. Dark Matter and The Expanse are two other recent shows not owned by the network that were cancelled after their third seasons because the ratings were not high enough. Van Helsing is now standing on that cliff as well.
The show does have a couple of things in its favor, though. I am assuming it is not too expensive to produce, likely more than Z Nation but almost certainly less than Dark Matter and The Expanse. In addition, the show has a very dedicated and very vocal fanbase, and that is what it must rely heavily on at this point. We just saw equally low-rated Wynonna Earp (also not owned by Syfy) make it past the third season pitfall this past Summer; a show that is also inexpensive to produce and has an engaged fanbase. So it is on the fans to start making noise in support of Van Helsing on the social networks and as loud as possible. The showrunner has already said on Twitter that the show will be gone ‘sooner than later’ without support from the fans. I know that this one has seen a lot of social network activity over its first two seasons, and that needs to continue and possibly reach a fever pitch to convince Syfy to keep it going. The social networks are a very important tool for the fans in the Peak TV era and have saved shows like The Expanse and Lucifer and almost certainly contributed to Wynonna Earp getting a fourth season. So Van Helsing fans are called to action and their efforts could make the difference on whether this show continues beyond its current season.
The showrunner has already reached out to Cancelled Sci Fi on Twitter supporting our efforts to rally the fans. We will continue to try and keep the line of communication open throughout the season and pass along any suggestions to help improve the show’s prospects. Be sure to stay tuned to this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for news, updates, and ratings results on Van Helsing, Z Nation and the other sci fi entries airing this Fall.