Sci Fi Channel has pinned down renewals for two of its more popular series.
The 93-million subscriber network will bring back its original series Stargate Atlantis for a fifth season. Production on another 20 episodes of the series, which is produced and distributed by MGM Television, is set to begin in early 2008, according to the network.
Season four of the series, which features Stargate SG-1’s Amanda Tapping and Firefly’s Jewel Staite as new cast members, has averaged 1.39 million viewers for its four premiere episodes since its Sept. 28 debut. However, the numbers skew much higher when gauged on live, plus seven-day total. To that end, the fourth season premiere on Sept. 28 attracted 2 million viewers, while the second pulled in 1.68 million, resulting in a 1.84 million average, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That was up from a 1.76 million average for its previous campaign, according to network officials.
The series’ progenitor Stargate SG-1 ran for 10 consecutive seasons, the most for any sci-fi series in TV history, before ending its original run on June 22.
“Sci Fi is proud to bring Atlantis back for another season,” said Mark Stern, executive vice president of original programming for Sci Fi in a statement. “Atlantis truly came out from under the shadow of its sister series this year and proved that it’s a hit in its own right. With this season’s exciting new characters and vibrant storylines, Atlantis also shows every sign of matching its sibling’s longevity.”
The network also announced it will continue to air World Wrestling Entertainment’s ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) through 2008. The WWE launched the ECW franchise, the assets of which it acquired in 2003, on Sci Fi during June 2006. The weekly series is averaging 1.9 million viewers, according to Sci Fi executives.
Sci Fi's sister service USA Network currently distributes the WWE’s weekly Monday Night Raw franchise.