In this weekly column, I monitor the viewership levels for the currently airing #scifi and #fantasy shows as well as their renewal and cancellation prospects. Also check out This Week In Sci-Fi TV on Fridays (sometimes Saturdays), which delivers news and updates on genre television. Ratings Source: The Nielsen Company.
Syfy Stumbles Into Fall
Towards the end of 2015, Syfy indicated that it wanted to return to its science fiction roots and get back to the ambitious story-telling of shows like Battlestar: Galactica and veer away from the paranormal "sci fi-lite" that became the norm after its 2009 rebranding. Here's the scorecard on that for its Fall shows: paranormal/horror shows - 5 (Z Nation, Van Helsing, Channel Zero, Ghost Wars, Superstition), WTF shows - 1 (Happy!), science fiction shows - 0. Not surpisingly, the network is experiencing some of the lowest ratings it has ever seen in a Fall season.
Z Nation, formerly one of Sysy's highest rated shows, is at a franchise low point in its fourth season, averaging only a 0.16 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic across two episodes. That's down notably from the 0.25 average it had last year, but I think it is still okay because it is cheap to produce and should get at least one more season to pad out its run. Van Helsing returned last week for its second season posting a 0.15 rating which is only slightly below the 0.16 average it had in its first season. But Dark Matter got cancelled this past Summer after averaging a 0.15 rating, and like that space series, Syfy does not own or co-own Van Helsing which means no share in future profits.
Channel Zero returned for its second season three weeks ago to pretty low numbers (only a 0.13 rating for its premiere), though it did see an improvement this last week to a 0.16 rating. It has already been renewed through its fourth season, but I wouldn't expect much if anything beyond that. And last Thursday, new series Ghost Wars scared up only a 0.10 rating for its debut, giving it a ghost of a chance to survive to a second season unless the numbers turn around (unlikely).
Superstition and Happy! still have their debuts to come, but neither of those are well-known properties (and the network has done almost nothing to promote the former), so I am not expecting them to move the ratings needle much. Even Syfy's previously reliable reality series Face-Off is down in the ratings this year, and the network seems to be suffering from delivering too much of what the viewers do not want and stumbling on its promise to focus more on science fiction.
- ALSO READ: This Week In Sci-Fi TV: Joss Whedon Returns To The Buffyverse, 'Star Trek: Discovery' Gets More Fall Eps And More
Friday Is Not A Good Night For Genre Shows
All of the Fall Friday sci fi and fantasy shows have had their debuts now (except for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which gets a late start) and the numbers are not looking good early. ABC's Once Upon A Time had its Season 7 bow this past Friday and only managed a series low 0.7 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 3.3 million total viewers. Of course, that one is just padding its syndication package, so it is not impossible that Disney could tell ABC to keep it on the air for another season or so. In the next hour, The Inhumans slipped to a 0.7 rating with 2.8 million total viewers for its second week. That one has the Avengers tie-in on its side, but as an expensive first season show pulling such low numbers, it is definitely not on solid ground.
Over on FOX, The Exorcist slipped to a new series low of a 0.4 rating with 1.4 million total viewers for its second Season 2 episode. That show has a vocal fanbase supporting it on the social networks and it got a surprise renewal last year, but FOX will have a hard time justifying keeping it around at these levels. On CBS, MacGyver remained low for its second week at a 0.8 rating with 6.4 million total viewers. Those aren't disastrous numbers for that network, but it is never good to be an under-performing genre show on CBS.
Ratings Results Of Interest: 'Supergirl' Returns Low, 'Ghosted' Holds Steady
On Monday, The CW's Supergirl matched a series low with its Season 3 premiere pulling a 0.5 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 1.9 million total viewers (according to the preliminaries). But that show is in the syndication stretch and The CW isn't know for cancelling its shows that have made it to the third season mark, so expect it back for a fourth year. Over on FOX, Lucifer slipped to a 0.9 rating with 3.3 million total viewers, but that may be enough to keep that one going for now. In the next hour The Gifted had a 1.2 rating with 3.9 million total viewers and looks okay at this early point in the season.
On Sunday, FOX's new paranormal series Ghosted held steady in its second week at a 1.4 rating based on the demo with 3.6 million total viewers. Those are decent numbers for a FOX comedy and if it can continue to hold close to the lead-in numbers from The Simpsons, I like its chances for survival. The Last Man on Earth improved to a 1.0 rating with 2.2 million total viewers and I believe FOX will keep that one around for a fifth season to give it an episode count more attractive to the syndication market.
On the cable channels that night, AMC's Fear the Walking Dead slipped back to a 0.77 rating based on the demo with 2.2 million total viewers. I continue to believe that show will be wrapping up around its fifth, possibly sixth, season. Over on Starz, Outlander continued to do well for its network as it pulled a 0.34 rating with 1.6 million total viewers. It has already been renewed for a fourth season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that extended to a fifth year. On TNT, The Last Ship had a 0.28 rating with 1.3 million total viewers for its season finale. It is back next Summer for a fifth season and that could be its last.
The CW released the first look at the upcoming Constantine animated series which will see Matt Ryan return to the lead role and will stream on the CW Seed. Following is the synopsis for the series:
This all-new animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Blue Ribbon Content follows DC’s popular comic book character John Constantine (voiced by the live action series star Matt Ryan), a seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult. Armed with an arcane knowledge of the dark arts and a wicked wit, he fights the good fight. With his soul already damned to hell, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent. With the balance of good and evil on the line, Constantine uses his skills to face the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows… maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.
Ryan will also be making an appearance as Constantine in an upcoming episode of Legends of Tomorrow, and perhaps if that and the animated series draw enough viewers then The CW will consider bringing back the live action series that was cancelled by NBC.
- Previous Column: Early Fall Ratings Look Good For The Gifted, Not So Good For The Inhumans
- See a list of past columns at this link
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