Sci Fi Channel pinned down renewals for two of its more popular series.
The 93 million-subscriber network will bring back original series Stargate Atlantis for a fifth season. Production on another 20 episodes of the series, produced and distributed by MGM Television, will begin early next year, the network said.
Season four, which saw Stargate SG-1's Amanda Tapping and Firefly's Jewel Staite join as cast members, has averaged 1.39 million viewers for four premiere episodes since the Sept. 28 debut.
Sci Fi said the numbers skew higher when gauged on live-plus-seven-day total, which measures a week's worth of recorded replays. By that measure, the fourth-season premiere on Sept. 28 attracted 2 million viewers and the second episode pulled in 1.68 million, for a 1.84 million average, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Last season, Atlantis averaged 1.76 million viewers, Sci Fi said.
Progenitor Stargate SG-1 ran 10 seasons, on Showtime and Sci Fi.
Mark Stern, Sci Fi Channel's executive vice president of original programming, said in a release that “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.” He added it “shows every sign of matching its sibling's longevity.”
Sci Fi also said 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.
Sci Fi's sister service USA Network currently distributes the WWE's weekly Monday Night Raw franchise.