In this weekly column, I monitor the viewership levels for the currently airing sci-fi and fantasy shows as well as their renewal and cancellation prospects. Also check out This Week In Sci-Fi TV on Fridays, which delivers news and updates on genre television.
Season Premiere: The 'Walking Dexit' Continues For Fear The Walking Dead
AMC once had the hottest property on television with The Walking Dead and its spin-off Fear the Walking Dead. Those shows both topped the ratings across the cable channels and broadcast networks at one point, setting off plenty of buzz across the social networks. Sadly, the franchise has definitely been on a downswing this past year, starting with FtWD seeing a notable drop in its ratings last summer, followed by the official beginning of the the Walking Dexit when the parent series went all too dark in its seventh season and viewers started switching off in large numbers.
That ratings slide appears to be continuing as Fear the Walking Dead returned for its third season this past Sunday and matched a series low level of a 1.2 rating based on the overnights for the 18–49 demographic with 3.1 million total viewers. That number is down from its Season 2 premiere by 61 percent and down from its season average last year by 37 percent. It also failed to make it into the Weekly Nielsen Social Top 10 last week, where it regularly appeared during its first season and a good part of its second season.
But there is no need for fans to worry just yet, as it is still one on the highest rated shows on cable, and has already been renewed for a fourth season. However, the spin-off series has never received high praise and its numbers are slipping quicker and further than TWD. Seeing as it is certainly an expensive show to produce, I would not be surprised if AMC might be considering wrapping this one up around its fifth season (a typical stopping point for cable shows), then possibly trying another spin-off (the parent series is not going away anytime soon despite its ratings drop). That remains to be seen, but for now, FtWD is doing alright for a cable show, though possibly not quite in line with expectations based on its budget.
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Twin Peaks Sees Notable Gains From Streaming
On Sunday, Showtime's Twin Peaks reboot improved from the prior week to a 0.08 based on the overnights for the 18–49 demographic rating with 250K total viewers. Those are still pretty minuscule numbers for such a highly touted and promoted show, and the series premiere from two weeks ago has not seen much in the way of improvement in delayed viewing. According to the Live+3 tally for the two-hour premiere, it improved from 506K total viewers to 619K, a modest 22 percent increase.
But the show has had more success in digital viewing. It is available on Showtime's streaming service and the network indicated that it had a record number of sign-ups when it announced that the third and fourth episodes would be available early to those who had the service. In addition, the total viewership for the first two eps has improved to 1.7 million once streaming is included. That definitely helps offset the low linear numbers that suggested that the revival had not drawn much in the way of viewer interest.
Of course, considering that the third and fourth episodes (aired back-to-back) only averaged a 0.04 rating and this past Sunday the show only improved to a 0.08 score for its fifth installment, expect those all-inclusive numbers to drop (linear viewing typically correlates closely to delayed viewing). The curious onlookers checked out the premiere, but many did not stick with it. This revival is planned only for a limited 18-episode run, though, and Showtime has already garnered some good buzz and padded their subscriptions. So, they will certainly count it as a win, if only a modest one.
Ratings Results Of Interest: The Leftovers Improves For Its Season Finale
On Sunday, HBO's The Leftovers improved to a 0.43 rating based on the overnights for the 18–49 demographic with one million total viewers for its series finale, its best numbers since last season's finale. HBO decided to wrap the show up with its current season due to its ratings drops last year, but its numbers have actually improved this season and you have to wonder if they wish that they had kept this one around a bit longer.
Over on Starz, American Gods slipped to a 0.21 rating in the demo with 610K total viewers, but that one continues to perform well enough for its network and has already been renewed for a second season. On Saturday, BBC America's Doctor Who spin-off Class could only muster a 0.06 score with 220K total viewers for its season finale, not even making it into the Top 150 cable originals for the night. That show's survival is more closely tied to its performance over in Britain, though word is that it did not have great numbers there either.
Freeform's Shadowhunters returned for the second half of its second season on Monday and Stitchers had its Season 3 debut. Those numbers will not be available until later today, so keep an eye on the Cancelled Sci-Fi TV Twitter for that info. I will also be addressing them in this Friday's "This Week In Sci-Fi TV" post.
Scorecard: Fear The Walking Dead Enters At Number 4
Even though the ratings results for AMC's Fear the Walking Dead were down for its season premiere, it is still performing well compared to the network's benchmark, and it entered into the Cancellation Watch Scorecard at No 4. There was not much movement among the other shows seeing as the regular season has mostly wrapped up, but expect to see some shifting once the summer shows start working their way into the rankings. You can see the full Scorecard results here.
Be sure to follow the Cancelled Sci-Fi TV Twitter for daily ratings results as well as breaking news and updates. Go to CancelledSciFi.com for ratings results and status of all the currently airing and returning sci-fi and fantasy shows.