In its first season, BBC America was quick to renew the critically acclaimed (but low rated) Orphan Black for a second season. However, the same could not be said for the show’s third season as the news didn’t come until weeks after the second season's conclusion.
The show's ratings haven’t really improved much on a traditional front, so many assumed the pattern of late renewal was going to play out the same way again when it came to Orphan Black season 4… but that’s not the case. In a surprise announcement, it has been confirmed that BBC America and Canadian broadcast Space have placed a fresh 10-episode order for the show’s fourth season (which will debut in 2016).
Orphan Black's season four renewal may be partly the result of the recent 49.9% buyout of BBC America by AMC. BBC, because of the new business model, now operates in a Live +3 ratings model like the rest of AMC Networks’ stations - including AMC, IFC, Sundance TV and WeTV - and the DVR playback is aiding Orphan Black. Moreover, the show did reach its most watched season premiere ever this year thanks to a simulcast that took place across all the aforementioned channels.
This development also all but guarantees Orphan Black's survival beyond season four. Now, in order to make back all the money that’s been poured into it, the show has to keep going long enough to become a highly valuable property for streamers like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu to bid over down the road. The show may not operate on a standard 88-episode model of syndication, but more episodes means more revenue at this stage of the game.
Narratively, Orphan Black is smack in the middle of its story right now. The current season has felt like a true mid-point for the tale of Sarah and her "sisters", and the addition of Ari Millen’s Castor clones has only heightened that feeling.
For example, in the most recent episode of season three, it appeared that we're starting to get some real answers concerning the original genetic material that created the various clones. Those revelations alone could propel the series forward and allow its mythos to continue expanding - enough so to encompass more than just one more season. For now, though, Orphan Black fans will likely just be happy the series is coming back next year.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9pm on BBC America.
Source: BBC America