We are living in the Golden Age of sci-fi viewing. Thanks to the rise of deep-pocketed streaming platforms, the expansion of superhero-themed properties to the “small screen”, and a long overdue recognition of the value of genre programming, fandom today has more choices than ever when it comes to feeding their sci-fi fix.
But with the power of choice comes great responsibility. Where do you commit your time? And potential subscription fees? Who has the most to offer?
Well, after amassing a sizable show list, from Agents of SHIELD to Westworld, I put each broadcaster to the test, evaluating them across a range of criteria: quality, quantity, variety, and status of their sci-fi slate, support for their sci-fi programming relative to their other offerings, fan outreach, recognition, and respect. And, when all was said and done, these were my Top 10 Sci-Fi Broadcast/Streaming Homes:
A lot of love for genre programming in general here, but there’s a definite commitment to sci-fi with shows like Stitchers and Beyond. Ultimately, Freeform lands the tenth slot on the strength of its upcoming series: Cloak & Dagger, New Warriors (Squirrel Girl!), and Misfits remake.
Coming in at number nine is this feisty digital streaming service looking to make a splash in 2018 with not one, but two intriguing offerings. First, there’s The Tribe, a post-apocalyptic series that I’ve heard described as The 100 meets The Walking Dead. And then there’s The Row which focuses on a group of death row inmates who avoid execution by “volunteering” for a deadly space mission. Killer premise.
#8. BBC AMERICA
Being Human, Class, Torchwood, Orphan Black and, of course, the grandaddy of science fiction television, Dr. Who – BBC America has a solid track record in this arena. Looking forward to what they have in store…
They’ve got Agents of SHIELD presently airing its fourth season (with the incredible Ming-Na Wen), Marvel’s Inhumans, Somewhere Between that focuses on a mother’s attempts to avert the fated murder of her young daughter, and the upcoming The Crossing which sees America becoming home to an influx of refugees…from 250 years in the future.
Like superheroes, I put zombies in the sci-fi camp if their origins are based in science (fiction) rather than the supernatural, and that’s the case for two of AMC’s entries here: The Walking Dead and its offshoot Fear the Walking Dead. The high octane Into the Badlands gets the nod as well, as does the android-centric Humans.
#5. THE CW
The 100, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, the forthcoming Black Lightning series. Need I go on?
FOX comes in at #4 on the strength its commitment to science fiction, past (Firefly, Fringe, The X-Files, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sliders, The X-Files) and present (The X-Files, The Gifted, The Last Man on Earth, The Gifted, The Orville).
In addition to going all in on Stephen King’s time-hopping 11.22.63, Hulu aims to follow up on its brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale with a bevy of sci-fi offerings including Future Man, Dimension 404, Freakish, and Runaways.
Amazon’s streaming service vaults into the #2 spot thanks to a burgeoning sci-fi slate that includes The Man in the High Castle, the recently launched Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and a trio of intriguing upcoming adaptations: Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. There’s also Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens that is really more fantasy than science fiction, but I mention it for its post-apocalyptic setting.
And all alone at #1 is the current king of sci-fi programming. Let’s break it down: Black Mirror, Dark Matter, Sense 8, The OA, Stranger Things, Travelers, 3%, Daredevil, The Defenders, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Punisher. Upcoming: Lost in Space, The Umbrella Academy, Altered Carbon. And I’m sure there’s much, much more.
Honorable Mentions: The CBS All Access and Stargate Command streaming platforms offer up a plethora of classic sci-fi (Every Star Trek series and every Stargate series respectively), in addition to a couple of exclusives (Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Stargate: Origins on Stargate Command). HBO doesn’t do a lot of sci-fi, but when they do, they invest in some impressive production values. Finally, Canada’s Space Channel is home to great content including the aforementioned Star Trek: Discovery, The Expanse, and Killjoys among others but it didn’t make the list because, sadly, if you’re not in Canada you’re out of luck.
So, what do you all think? What are your go-to sci-fi homes? What are you watching and what are you looking forward to watching?
39 thoughts on “October 14, 2017: The Top 10 Sci-Fi Broadcast/Streaming Homes!”
I have Netflix, but going with Roku instead so I can get Acorn and Brit Box, because lately all I’m watching are Brit tv mysteries. The only sci fi I’m watching now is The Orville, and not sure how I feel about if yet.
Just want to give a shout out for Acorn. It has lots of amazing shows.
Did you mention The X-Files twice just because… or because it came back for those few special episodes recently. Love to know where to go for couch potato duties. Very important.
Just finished #DarkMatter marathon on SpaceChannel. Now Battle Los Angeles is on. It’s my go to station for Star Trek…Stargate & my beloved #TheLastShip. They respond to viewers quickly through email & if possible address problems. At least they have done so with me where #TheLastShip was concerned.
What I am watching? All things Netflix in Finland have offer so far. In fact Stargate was one of first series I did binge back of the day. Though, sill waiting the day when Dark Matter and Lost Girl find their way on Finns screens too..
Don’t forget BBCAmerica’s daily dose of Star Trek. You can watch TOS, TNG, and Voyager right now. Haven’t seen DS9 shown yet, but you never know.
BBCAmerica is pretty much the only place I watch scifi now.
no SYFY ? (lol)
What I watched or been watching:
#7. ABC Agents of SHIELD
#4. FOX Fringe ,Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Orville).
Space Channel Star Trek: Discovery, The Expanse,
#1. NETFLIX Dark Matter, Stranger Things and looking fwd to Lost in Space mb
and (off topic) I’m trying to Brainstorming an Idea for a new Syfy serie to submit to you 🙂 At first I though of cross over with DM,SG,SGA but then I realize that Multiple different sets for each homeworld would be too costy to do.
I guest the more plausible way would be One world and other as guest in That One world for $$ sake
Oh! We also have a channel here in the US called “ME tv.” ME stands for Memorable Entertainment. They only show old re-runs.
Here is their website: http://www.metv.com/
Scifi schedule includes: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Battlestar Galactica, Lost in Space, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, and Star Trek. Full show list here: http://www.metv.com/shows/
I don’t use streaming services, and I jump between cable & broadcast networks for my sci-fi /fantasy fix.
It’s easier to list what I don’t /won’t watch: zombies, excessive blood & gore, wooden or overwrought acting.
One must-have element: HOPE.
baterista9 AKA gildermcc wrote:
“One must-have element: HOPE.”
Which is one of the big reasons why I gave up on The Walking Dead.
What’s so sad is that the one that should be on the very top of the list the Syfy Network didn’t even make the list at all because they just don’t seem to get science fiction or at least I don’t think they seem to get the fans I’m done with their second chance as good as the expanse Is i just don’t think I’m going to be here for the next season.
We’ve been watching “The Tick” on Amazon. “The Orville” on Hulu and I binge watched Westworld” on Hulu’s free Showtime/HBO weekend.
I forgot, we are waiting on “Stranger Things” too. Have you seen that? It’s similar to “Super 8”.
Normally I watch all things scifi on SPACE channel, but have re-watched a lot of Trek on Netflix. Currently I’m binge watching The Good Place on Netflix. Technically not a genre show, I guess, but it is a fantasy of sorts and, bonus, it has Ted Danson. Going to re-watch DM on Netflix as soon as I get through this series. At the rate I’m going that should be mid-week.
Netflix and an Canadian broadcaster would be a good combination. It’s clearly working for Travelers. It’s too bad you couldn’t have done this from the get go with Dark Matter. I think you’d still be on the air, as you wouldn’t have had this nonsense that got you off the air to begin with. People loved your show.
Netflix and Crunchyroll here, although I must be an old fart because I still have cable.
I always thought Space was the Canadian version of syfy and they were somehow linked. I have watched shows like Expanse on Space (online) but does that help syfy’s numbers? (I don’t want to help syfy in any way after their abysmal performance).
I love that so many of my beloved SF books are getting big/small screen adaptations, I just wish my man Mallozzi were a part of that action. I demand more Heinlein in the mix! JM, make it happen!
Been doing Netflix a lot lately with my three consecutive viewings of all three seasons of ‘Dark Matter’ (Yes! Three!) Long live the Raza!!!
I don’t watch anything “streaming” – it’s all too confusing and fragmented and I am old.
I think I’ve boiled it down. What hooks me into loyalty: 1. It has to be set in future timeline or able to move through time or have futuristic technology. 2. Has to have classy spaceship travel with inter galactic travel. 3. Most importantly a small group of characters (diverse, serious & humorous ) that gels together (family) drawing in viewer & bonding with them. 4. The cast MUST have a bottom line based on ethics! Oh and as shallow as this sounds, 5. If we’re being honest we’ll admit that we all enjoy charming attractive personalities (hooks us in). 6. NO & I stress this,,, NO OVERDOING the alien over the top characters and too much special effects at the cost of character development & storyline. Lastly, 7. ABSOLUTELY need writers/producers who GENUINELY CARE about the fans/viewers. Put that all together and we have liftoff ❤️🌎🚀
Amazon for sure would consider Netflix too but since german Netflix isn’t as nice as the US version, I don’t use it (not worth spending my money). Programming wise I would agree with your list but in a diffrent order.
Even more science fiction is coming from these sites as well, as it seems they are all discovering that science fiction fans are willing to pay for our shows if given the opportunity an it science fiction fans that cut the cord first.
I also had a theory, no proof through, that Nielsen ratings simply didn’t catch science fiction viewers as they focus putting boxes into family homes rather than single persons homes, on the main tv set rather than the one in the bedroom or elsewhere. There a huge disparity between cinema box office take for science fiction shows and tv viewers that never been explained to me.
Shudder also got some cool science fiction, the French series Missions, about a mission to Mars. Youtube Red Jumper in coming.
As for Germany I’d like to add Tele 5 – http://www.tele5.de/scifi – as the current No. 1 SciFi Broadcaster. They are always braodcasting two series of the Star Trek franchise (currently TNG and DS9), they recently aired the first season Dark Matter (the above mentioned site says “Dark Matter – the best ‘new’ scifi series of the past years”) and currently are showing Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis.
I had to get rid of Metflix a few years back due to financial difficulties, but recently decided to go back to it.
I was then holding off until our big DarkMatter Push, but since that didn’t happen, decided to jump in when they launched Star Trek Discovery.
It’s an ok series, but it’s no DarkMatter!
I’ve since found a whole bunch of great shows on the thing, and am happy it’s back in my life.
My AGameAWeek project, however, has certainly suffered over the past month!!
Netflix and Amazon for me. I love Man In the High Castle – it speaks to current events. I also like Netflix’s “The 100”. Looking forward to Brad Wright’s “Travelers” and Star Trek Discovery on Space Channel.
One channel we have where I live is Comet. Their lineup consists entirely of classic scifi and horror. Lots of old b-movies and cult classics. They are also showing Andromeda and even Stargate: Atlantis every night right now.
In fact, here: http://www.comettv.com/ Comet’s website.
Netflix and Amazon are my two main streaming services since I cut the cable cord two years ago. (I don’t miss cable one little bit!). I’ve watched all the Marvel offerings and am REALLY looking forward to the Punisher. He has always been my favorite comics character, and Bernthal nails it.
I rely on Amazon mainly for Horror, as they have literally hundreds of titles, but I will check out Good Omens. Thanks for the heads up! I didn’t love The Man in the High Castle. It has an interesting premise, but I felt that it became very slow and plodding and I lost interest.
You created a great list there, and I agree with your assessment.
The only streaming services I have are Netflix & Amazon (mainly because I’m a prime member). I love BBC America, Freeform & all the Hallmark related channels. I’m currently watching all the Harry Potters whenever they are on Freeform, The Gifted on Fox, Kevin Probably Saves the World on ABC, to name a few.
To get my Sci-Fi fix, it’s BBC America, MeTV, NetFlix, Amazon & my extensive DVD collection. I’m currently reconnecting with Babylon 5. Missing the anticipation of a S4 DM!! I’m still in shock and pissed at SyFy.
Solid passive aggressiveness here. Kudos.
“Solid passive aggressiveness here. Kudos.”
Ultimately, it was a top ten list so I couldn’t include everyone (ie. HBO, TNT, etc.). And the emphasis was on science fiction. Somewhere down the line, I may do a Top 10 Spec Fic List. Who knows?
Hi, Joe. Love your blog. You mentioned Crackle providing something called “The Tribe”. Do you have any more information on that? I’ve Googled and can’t find anything. It sounds like a remake of a New Zealand show that I LOVED of the same name. I’m just trying to figure out if it is. 🙂
Great Job! I use to watch BBC for Primeval but my go to channel use to be SYFY so I would put that #1, then of course CW(2) ABC (3) FREEFORM (4) FOX and of course I agree with Netflix #1 because you can binge and be selective as to your SCI-FI programming. Although I do have Amazon Prime I still prefer Netflix. So Joe, do you think that because there is only 2 years left to finish the DARK MATTER storyline, this was a deterrent?
This love the Dark Matter and although I do watch Killjoys, I loved Dark Matter’s storylines better. #WeAreTheRaza.
Netflix, CW and Fox.
@Maggie Kelly: XFiles is back again another time. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2017/04/20/fox-new-season-x-files-2017-18-david-duchovny-gillian-anderson/100719808/
I watch The 100 on Netflix and Man in the High Castle on Amazon.
Well, of course, my go-to used to be Sci-Fi and then even for a brief while again, Syfy but…aside from Killjoys, I have zero interest for obvious reasons.
These days Netflix and The CW are my top go-tos. While I’d love to pay for all the other forms like Hulu and HBO, I just can’t. I am curious about ABC’s placement on your list; I honestly don’t watch that channel at all and am less than impressed with that Marvel TV (vs Netflix’s Marvel ‘verse). I like Freeform (and its previous ABC Family) but it does skew younger than CW even. I’m interested to learn more about Crackle – I hadn’t come across that name before.