I’ve wondered this myself. SyFy’s Craig Engler:
SyFy Q) @paulidin Let’s pretend a billionaire really liked a show. Could he just give money to someone to keep it on the air with few viewers?
SyFy A) Probably yes, and probably at least 50% of the cost of an episode. Say, $500k-$1 million for cable, $1-3 million for broadcast
If I’d been a billionaire in 2003? Floating the cost to keep Captain Reynolds and crew around for at least an extra season would have been a no brainer. For the record, I would also have bought Rhode Island and had it towed out to sea, so funding a TV show would have probably looked relatively affordable.