Here are some stats and thoughts on the ratings performance and renewal or cancellation prospects of the sci-fi and fantasy shows from the past week or so.
Timeless Has A Decent Premiere For NBC
Last Monday, NBC's time travel series Timeless bowed with a 1.8 rating based on the overnights for the 18–49 demographic and 7.6 million total viewers. Those are good numbers for the broadcast networks these days, though I'm betting that NBC hoped for better seeing as it had a strong lead-in from The Voice. In fact, Timeless lost over 40 percent of that show's audience. Still, it is doing well compared to NBC's other scripted shows, so it has to be considered safe out of the gate.
The Ratings-Pocalypse Continues
The ratings results for sci-fi and fantasy shows were mostly down Monday through Wednesday as the ratings-pocalypse continues to erode viewership across the broadcast networks and cable channels. On Monday, FOX's Gotham slipped to a series low of a 1.0 rating based on the overnights for the 18–49 demo as that network in particular is feeling the effects the ratings spiral.
Lucifer actually managed to improve on those numbers a bit in the lead-out hour with a 1.1 rating and 3.7 million total viewers. On Tuesday, The CW's The Flash had its Season 3 bow and pulled a 1.3 rating with 3.2 million total viewers. That's down one tick from the show's average last year, but it is not as far off as many of the other returning shows are this season.
Fox's Scream Queens and ABC's Agents of SHIELD were preempted for the Vice Presidential Debates. On Wednesday, The CW's Arrow returned for its fifth season but could only muster a 0.7 rating with 1.9 million total viewers and new entry Frequency had only a 0.4 score with 1.4 million total viewers. Not great numbers for that network, but we will have to see how it tracks when all shows are airing. Over on FX, American Horror Story slipped a bit to a 1.4 rating with 2.8 million total viewers. More on that show in the next point. You can see the full ratings roundup from last week here.
American Horror Story Renewed For A Seventh Season
FX announced this week that its season-long anthology series will be back for a seventh year. That is not a huge surprise considering it is one of the highest rated shows currently on cable and continues to draw plenty of attention on the social networks. But its numbers have been down the last couple of years and it is an expensive show to produce. It is still a flagship series for FX and a seventh season will extend its episode count and give it a very attractive syndication package (where shows really turn a profit). Whether it will continue beyond that point remains to be seen.
Don't Panic On Gotham Yet
Gotham's numbers are at all-time lows for Fox, but it is still not performing too far below the network's average for scripted programming and since it is in the syndication stretch, it has a very good chance of getting a fourth season renewal. One more full season gets it the the 80-plus episode count that the syndication market prefers, so the economics make it worthwhile to keep it going at least that long. The only hurdle is that Fox does not own the show and therefore does not benefit from the syndication sale. Warner Bros will likely cut the license fee to make it attractive enough for Fox to bring it back for another year.
Is Westworld's Viewership Good Enough To Justify Its Cost?
HBO's new series Westworld had a decent debut last Sunday, though it doesn't count as a huge hit at this point. If you say that it doesn't have to, especially in the current hyper-competitive television environment, then I think HBO might beg to differ. The first season has a pretty high price-tag of $100 million, which is super-expensive for a television series. Broadcast networks are typically paying about $4 to $5 million per episode for an hour-long drama and the cable channels could be paying as low as $2 or even $1 million (hello, Z Nation).
At an average of $10 million per episode for Westworld, there are some pretty high expectations that a show will bring in significant viewership. The 3.3 million viewers that HBO claimed for the premiere on Sunday across all platforms was good, but was it good enough? I still believe that it has a very good chance for renewal, but HBO will need to see some returns on this one sooner rather than later.
Ash Vs. Sunday Night
I originally thought that it was a bad move by Starz to shift Ash vs. Evil Dead from Saturdays to overcrowded Sundays, but the show just posted it highest ratings yet with its Season 2 debut. Of course, it aired at 8 PM EST and didn't go directly against the Westworld premiere or Fear the Walking Dead season finale, but with football and all the other shows on that night, it's hard to find enough viewers. While its 0.21 rating doesn't look too impressive, those are decent numbers for Starz and AvED is likely not one of the more expensive shows on TV (Sam Raimi knows how to work on the cheap when he has to). At this point, that show looks to be in good shape and could possibly survive for the five season run Bruce Campbell wants for the show.
Son Of Zorn Scores Again
Fox's new live-action/animated comedy looked to be in trouble when its second episode slipped pretty low to a 1.1 rating following an NFL-boosted premiere that scored a 2.4 in early September. However, Son of Zorn's most recent episode jumped back up to a 1.6 rating, largely due to the trickle-down effect from the NFL bleed-over into the night. Scheduling has definitely helped this one so far and may keep it afloat for awhile longer, especially considering how poorly the rest of Fox's non-Empire offerings are doing. Unfortunately, FOX's scheduling has not been as kind to The Exorcist and that one currently looks like it could be the first genre casualty of the season.
Sci-fi is more a part of your everyday life than you ever knew. Check out some cool sci-fi tech that you use on the daily (and didn't know came from sci-fi) in the video below:
Which of sci-fi or fantasy show has you hooked this Fall?