Stargate SG-1’s cancellation: THE TIMELINE
Was poking through the news, and noticed that on most boards, the discussion of SG-1’s cancellation is so scattered over various lists that it’s impossible to find all the details in one spot. So, I’ve put together a timeline of sorts…. Just relevant quotes from recent articles.
Anyway, my feelings on the situation. Aging shows rarely get much respect if their ratings start to dip. Even one Law & Order spinoff bit the dust when the expected ratings didn’t come in. As far as I know, Sci Fi owns more of Atlantis than they do of SG-1 (particularly in the DVD sales area). Sci Fi also did an intense push to get the distinction of having had the “longest running sci-fi show in North America” (we won’t get into Dr. Who’s, etc. longevity) on their network. I believe that once they earned that distinction, they didn’t need to spend another buck on it.
Although Sci Fi denies that ratings had anything to do with it, one can’t help but think they had a lot to do with it – when a Sci Fi exec and an SG-1 producer tell fans to watch live because that’s what gives the show ratings, well, hey, do the math.
Sci Fi is pushing its own original shows. They own shows such as Eureka, the Superhero show (sorry, shudder, shudder) outright, and own the DVD rights, royalties, etc. MGM imparts apparently large licensing fees for SG-1. Battlestar Galactica has done very well for Sci Fi, and they are giving it special treatment by not interrupting it for six months, as they’re doing with the ‘gates, and they are very keen on getting that spin-off, Caprica, launched. Perhaps with the demise of SG-1, they’ll have the extra bucks for Caprica or its other new shows?? Or have I watched too many X-Files, or attended too many business meetings?? Hmm…
I won't even comment on Sci Fi's latest idea - wrestling. Just boggles the mind.
Anyway, here’s a collection of quotes from articles on Stargate SG-1, and links to previously posted articles. You can make of it what you will, but I think most folk, even if they believe the show got old and tired and it was time to end it, would agree that the manner in which its demise was announced – right before the 200th episode celebratory party for cast & crew, was pretty tacky. I guess there are Gou’ald on Earth…
SG-1 2006 TIMELINE
May 5 - Multichannel News (various quotes)
- In the first quarter of 2006, the show averaged 3.3 million viewers per new original episode on Friday night. The producers say another 3 million viewers watch reruns in syndication on weekend afternoons.
- Stargate SG-1 is Sci Fi Channel's workhorse. Airing at 8 p.m., the series leads off the network's key "Sci Fi Friday" primetime block of originals, reliably shuttling viewers to spin-off Stargate: Atlantis at 9 and onward to the channel's flagship, Battlestar Galactica, at 10.
- Stargate SG-1 has sold more than 30 million individual DVDs units worldwide and is said by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. to be second in its stable only to the James Bond theatrical-film series. (MGM declines to disclose the Bond sales figures.)
- The producers credit Stargate SG-1 and sister series Stargate: Atlantis (heading into its third season) with generating more than $500 million U.S. for the British Columbia economy to date. MGM now spends $75 million per year to make both shows.
- Stargate SG-1 came under her auspices after MGM was sold last year to a consortium led by Sony, Comcast Corp. and several private-equity firms. The largest single shareholder is Providence Equity Partners, which specializes in media and communications investments (including cable operator Bresnan Communications and the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network), followed by Texas Pacific Group, known for investments in such branded companies as Continental Airlines and J. Crew. Comcast and Sony are strategic shareholders in MGM, owning 20% each.
- "I think what Stargate, and similar shows that last this long, [have] is a family that you want to see every week and invite into your living room," Stern said. "It sounds a little corny, but ultimately it really comes down to that. It's all about great storytelling with characters you love."
- In 2001, when the show was being phased out, then-Showtime programming chief Jerry Offsay told Multichannel News: "Although the audience is still there for it [SG1], it's not helping us draw new subscribers in the door when the show is available in syndication and [will be] on Sci Fi.")
- By the start of season nine (in the third quarter of 2005), the show's following had grown to where it was averaging 2.5 million viewers per episode, a 2.1 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research figures. It dipped about 14% in the ratings in the first quarter of 2006 versus first quarter 2005, primarily during the February 2006 sweeps period. (In winter 2006, the show averaged a 1.8 household rating and 2.1 million total viewers.) …by the March finale toward the end of 2006's first quarter, ever-resilient SG1 had rebounded to its normal 2.0 rating level.
- In February, Variety reported that the NBC broadcast network's ratings woes are filtering across to the NBC Universal-owned cable networks, and that such cable properties as USA Network, Bravo and Sci Fi are being pressured to favor NBC Universal Television Studios-produced content, thereby keeping revenue in-house.
- Stargate SG-1 is a mature series and production costs continue to mount: it's budgeted for at least $2 million U.S. per episode. Tax breaks remain in place, but the costs advantages of filming in Vancouver have evaporated due to unfavorable exchange rates.
- Asked how these factors weigh on the future for Stargate SG-1 (owned and financed by MGM), Stern is emphatic. "There's absolutely zero, never, any pressure from anybody - and I'll tell you this straight - to make a decision on a show based on whether it's [an NBC Universal] project at all. Period. We and Bonnie Hammer have full latitude to do what she thinks she needs to do and what we think is best for our air." … "This show has always had budgetary challenges.This show has always been trying to do and achieve so much more than it was budgeted to do”… Stern says MGM actually has budgeted more for the show (and, in so doing, increased the gap between the show's actual cost and the license fee Sci Fi pays, a deficit the studio figures to regain later from syndication airings, DVD sales and other sources). He also points out that the studio paid to bring in additional big-name cast members Black, Browder and Beau Bridges.
- Stargate SG-1 cannot continue indefinitely, in [Robert] Cooper's view. "The economics of producing a show make it impossible," he warns. "The simple fact is that salaries go up incrementally as seasons continue. At some point, it just reaches the place where there's no profit to be made."
May 1 – Playback Magazine (Canada) http://www.playbackmag.com/articles/magazine/20060501/casters.html
- "Every year we keep thinking this is the last year," says Mark Stern, exec VP, original programming at cable outlet Sci Fi Channel, which took over the series from Showtime after season five. "The sixth year we were sure was the end, then the seventh and eighth, so now we have all basically given up trying to guess."
- "It is an amazing accomplishment," says Stern. "And the really exciting thing is that the show feels as interesting and funny and energetic as it did in the first season."
- In fact, when Stargate Atlantis debuted in 2004, it actually bolstered ratings for SG-1.
- "It was a real surprise to us," says Stern. "Originally, Atlantis was supposed to replace SG-1, but they have actually turned out to be amazing partners and have lifted each other up. There is a lot of crossover between the shows. About 60 percent of the Atlantis audience is SG-1 viewers." …
- The series is also a consistently top performer in Canada on Space: The Imagination Station, which runs SG-1 as a daily stripped program in the afternoons and broadcasts new episodes in primetime. "It has solid ratings every single day - Monday through Friday," says Isme Bennie, director of programming and acquisitions for Space. "On a day-to-day basis, it is the most successful long-running stripped program in our schedule. And when we run new episodes, they are among the highest-rated shows in that particular week."
- SG-1 also has a strong international following. Sony Pictures Television, which handles distribution of the series, has sold the series into over 120 territories, including the U.K., Australia, Germany and France. Stern believes the secret to the show's popularity is in the chemistry between characters. "Yes, Stargate SG-1 has interesting science fiction stories and it has action adventure, but many sci-fi and action adventure shows haven't lasted half a season, much less 10 years," he says. "This is a family of characters you want to come back to every week. They have so much fun together. The humor and wit is so great, and that is key to why the show works."
Jul 14 – SG1 and SGA debut, 10th and 3rd seasons, respectively.
Jul 14 – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06195/706019-352.stm
- In a talk [at the annual summer Television Critics Association Press Tour] with Mark Stern, Sci Fi Channel's executive vice president of original programming, the article said about Battlestar Galactica’s spinoff Caprica. "Caprica is the next generation of where we should be going in terms of space opera," Stern said. "It really is a terrestrial show."
- "We really want to see Caprica happen," Stern said. "We hope to make a decision in a few months."
Jul 22 – Comic Con panel – At the over-packed Stargate SG-1 panel (you can read a full report at http://stargate-sg1-solutions.com/features/comiccon06.shtml) , Sci Fi executive Nora O’Brien tells fans that only live viewing will help bolster the low ratings that the gates got on their season premieres – TiVo doesn’t count.
Aug 17 or thereabouts – Guinness Book of World Records lists Stargate SG-1 as “Longest Consecutive Running Sci-Fi TV Show” (in North America, that is). (p. 180).
Aug 17 or thereabouts – Well, the ratings are out for the Stargates, and they’ve been low. All under 2.0 and some as low as 1.3, if I recall correctly. Both Stargates are up against Monk and Psych, respectively, on USA Network, and both those comedic mysteries began a week before and were accompanied by an intensive ad campaign. Not unexpectedly, they drew in massive audiences. Fan notice Sci Fi has used last year’s ads to promote Atlantis in their magazine, and the only real push for Stargate SG-1 is the much-vaulted “200” episode.
Aug 18 – National Ledger –
- Stargate: SG-1: Nearing Final Days? - The Sci Fi Channel's popular Stargate SG-1 is celebrating its 200th episode tonight, and fans should enjoy the festivities while they can. Star Michael Shanks tells us the end could very well be in sight. "I think it'd be nice for one more year, and then that would be the time to close the book on it, for sure," claims Shanks, who plays Dr. Daniel Jackson. However, "from an imagination point of view, there's a lot left in this franchise. The wonderful thing about science fiction is that there is a lot of imagination out there and there are a lot of places we can take this unique concept. In terms of the business side of it, I really don't know. There's a reason why shows end, but those things we can't be in control of."
- "This has been the most prolonged celebration that I've ever seen. We've already had like three parties," Shanks tells us, but for him, the 200th episode holds even deeper meaning. "This particular one is a milestone in that it makes me think, 'I'm still here? It's been a decade!' When I started, I was like, 'Oh, this will last for a few months, I'll get some money, and some new experience,' and we are still here. It's definitely been a unique life circumstance."
Aug 21 – MGM announces that current episodes of its science fiction/adventure series "Stargate SG1" and "Stargate Atlantis" available on 's iTunes Music Store. The first five episodes of Stargate SG1 season 10 and the first five episodes of Stargate Atlantis season 3 are available for download and purchase starting today, and subsequent episodes will be available within 24 hours of airing on the Sci Fi channel.
Aug 21 (4:59pm ET) – Multichannel News (http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6364450.html?display=Breaking+News) breaks the news: People close to the production of Stargate SG-1 said Sci Fi Channel canceled the series on the eve of its 200th episode, which aired last Friday night, making the show the first cable scripted series to reach such a milestone. The announcement came in sometime before cast, crew and executives gathered to celebrate the historic airing at a Saturday-evening bash held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the series is shot.
Aug 22 – Scifi.com - http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=2&id=37607 finally puts up news at midnight, confirming SG-1’s cancellation and renewal of Stargate Atlantis for a fourth season. SCI FI issued the following statement on Aug. 21: "SCI FI Channel is proud to be the network that brought Stargate SG-1 to its record-breaking 10th season. Ten seasons and 215 episodes is an astounding, Guinness World Record-setting accomplishment. Stargate is a worldwide phenomenon. Having achieved so much over the course of the past 10 years, SCI FI believes that the time is right to make this season their last on the channel. SCI FI is honored to have been part of the Stargate legacy for five years, and we look forward to continuing to explore the Stargate universe with our partners at MGM through a new season of Stargate Atlantis."
Aug 22 – Variety said
“On the weekend, Stargate SG-1, which will be ending production after a 10-year run, landed a 1.3, down 32% year to year and flat week to week.”
For more information, please visit these earlier LJ entries:
Aug 21 - http://wraithfodder.livejournal.com/17231.html (first news, articles)
Aug 22 - http://wraithfodder.livejournal.com/17588.html (RCC comments)
Aug 23 - Michael Shanks’ publicist sends out the actor’s response: “Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. But I look at it as the closing of a chapter, not the whole story."
Aug 24 – A fan, or someone else with a warped sense of humor (or revenge) sends out a fake PR notice that a well-known press release site actually posted briefly before yanking, but not before fans found it. “(PRWEB) August 24, 2006 -- Effective November 1, 2006, the SCI FI Channel will change their name to SurgeTV, to reflect the changing demographic thrust of the successful long-running cable channel. In addition, deals are currently working out to bring back ECW for a three-times a week run in prime time, as well as reruns (Pre-WWE) of professional wrestling events.” And more. The trouble is, with the way Sci Fi is going, it wasn’t too far-fetched!
SAVE SG-1 CAMPAIGNS:
First, watch this fan-made video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eLooaLVAIk
Seriously, if that doesn’t put you in the mood to write, nothing will.
You can sign the petition at
BUT…. Studios don’t pay attention to petitions. Anybody can fake another identity on the internet. Write a letter (aka, on paper). Or send your own email. One petition can contain 10,000 signatures, and it will count as ONE letter, but a studio takes notice if 10,000 actual pieces of mail floods their mailroom.
is the best place to determine what to do if you want to write in about saving SG-1. These folk are experienced in this stuff and have a logical, well-laid out site which answers pretty much any questions, supplies addresses, suggestions, and more.
There is also this idea - Conan O Brien CAMPAIGN TO SAVE STARGATE SG-1
visit that thread for more details.