Question: Should Bionic Woman fail to achieve network-television-caliber ratings on NBC, would NBC/Universal consider permanently moving the show to the Sci Fi Channel? Ratings expectations on a cable network are much lower. The smaller audience that tuned in to watch the show on NBC might be enough to keep the show alive on Sci Fi, assuming the viewers switch over. Furthermore, if we again assume that Universal airs reruns of Bionic Woman on Sci Fi like they did other NBC shows of the genre (Heroes, Surface) and if it does receive decent (cable) ratings, is that a good enough gauge to make a permanent move? I know this seems like a negative assumption about a brand-new show (sci-fi doesn't exactly have a good track record on network television), but I'm just curious if this is something studios ever consider. And if not, why wouldn't they?
Answer: A one-word answer: money. Bionic Woman is almost certainly too expensive a show to produce on Sci Fi's budget, although that's hard to quantify when you consider how polished some of Sci Fi's shows look, most notably Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. When a show like Bionic Woman is pitched for network TV, with a license fee and potential episode order that typically far exceeds the cable norm, I'm not sure what's entailed in scaling it down for a basic-cable-only run, especially when the network and studio are part of the same empire. This isn't a business column, and I don't pretend to be an expert. But logic alone dictates that if Bionic Woman fails on NBC, it goes away, the same way Surface sunk. But these days, anything's possible, and if the company feels the title alone is enough of a draw, who knows.