I figured out why SGA is ending a year early last night: Exchange rates. It’s not ratings, it’s not even a typically annoying lack of direction from the Sci Fi Channel, it’s just exchange rates pure and simple.
SG:A is an expensive show. Though exact numbers are hard to come by, their budget averages 2 million per ep, and they frequently go over that (Thus necessitating those maddening shot-for-eight-bucks-and-a-pack-of-smokes “Walking in the Woods” episodes). This is why the production of the Stargate franchise was located in Canada to begin with: the exchange rate was in our favor in the 90s (And really since the 1950s), but now, with the Canadian Dollar being worth *more* than the US Dollar, it means that for every dollar they spend, they're loosing 21 cents.
In other words, they're bleeding money: the average per-episode cost just jumped from about 2 million to 2.42 million. What can they do? It'd be even more expensive to relocate the production... soo....so, wrap it up a year early. Save yourself 4.2 million dollars in cost overages for the season.
Were it a momentary spike in the exchange rates, I think they'd have soldiered through with it, but it's been more than a year now, and it's unlikely to change any time soon. It could be like this for several more years. And that’s just a straight-ahead calculation for the cost of the show. If we factor in built-in raises for the cast, below the line costs (Hookers, mostly: Canadians have pretty hookers!), and the fact that the show has never really connected with casual fans the way SG1 did, and the idea of wrapping it all up and moving on to your next spinoff idea becomes pretty attractive. The producers themselves have been pretty emphatic about ending the show a year before it was contracted to end, and moving on to “Stargate: Universe.”
According to a lot of the accounts, it was the producers themselves who actually *suggested* a premature end for the show. To me, that strongly implies that not only was there an economic factor that made the issue come up, but also it would seem to suggest that the producers were dissatisfied with the show for some reason (It never really found it’s own sense of identity, frankly, and I’m not sure how they wanted it to go but I do feel it probably never quite got there), or simply lost interest in it. The upcoming SG:U will also be more expensive thanks to the exchange rates, but having a new cast of unknowns, it will be *less* costly in terms of built-in raises and whatnot. In other words, it’ll still bleed money, but it’ll bleed less. And since there’ll be no Stargate series at all for the next season, it’s possible the economy might right itself before production starts in earnest.
All this is my own supposition, and I’d love to discuss it with anyone who has more information than I do (I have none, just to be clear), but let’s talk it over in the comments. How do you feel about SG:A’s cancellation?
[Special thanks to Republibot 2.0 for contributing to this entry]