Cancellation Watch: The Real Ratings for Last Season’s Cancelled Sci Fi / Fantasy Shows Revolution, Almost Human, Star-Crossed, Dracula, and More

By | June 2, 2014

revolution-s2Last week, The Wrap posted a piece that showed the highest rated cancelled shows from the 2013-14 season and it’s sure to get sci fi fans riled up. Within the top six slots you will find FOX’s Almost Human (2.7 rating), NBC’s Revolution (2.2 rating), and CBS’ Intelligence (2.2 rating) . And then a little further down you will find two more NBC shows Believe (1.9 rating) and Dracula (1.8 rating). Problem is, though, the numbers they are basing this on are skewed as they include the fully-loaded ratings that have DVR viewings (even though I don’t see anywhere in the article where they point this out). So what they give is not as true of a picture because the overnights are what the sponsors are most interested in as viewers typically fast-forward through commercials with delayed viewing. And you can argue all you want about the merits of that and system being outdated (and I won’t necessarily disagree with you), but the fact is that these sponsors put up the money that covers the production costs of shows and they do that based on the live viewings of an episode.

I have compiled the season to date numbers for the cancelled sci fi / fantasy shows and I have them below sorted from highest to lowest and also include the target number that I deemed they needed to achieve to get renewed. That latter score is a very subjective one that I came up with based on what appeared to be the renewal point for a network across all of their scripted shows. You will see that based on my target number, each of the cancelled shows fell short which appears to give more justification to the actual cancellation (based strictly on the cold, hard numbers, no philosophical or fan-impassioned debates here).

Of those shows, Almost Human came closest to its target and could have likely met it if not for all the hurdles the network threw at it (more on that at this link). For all the rest, the cancellation makes sense when you compare performance to target (again, we’re just talking numbers here).

What I would like to see for each of these shows is where they came in on the Nielsen Twitter Rankings. That is a new measurement that the company started this past season and it looks at Twitter activity relating to a show the night that it airs. This represents a new marketing avenue and very possibly an additional measurement of a show’s success going forward. It’s very likely that sponsors will start posting adds on Twitter targeting audiences tweeting about a particular show (and don’t be getting annoyed by this sci fi Tweeters, because this represents a very tangible means of supporting your favorite show).

This past season, Nielsen published the Top 10 each week, but kept the remainder of the rankings close to the vest. I would guess that shows like Revolution and Dracula likely made the Top 25 most weeks based on the social activity I saw, and the lower rated CW shows were likely somewhere in the upper half of the list based on the activity GetGlue (now TVTag) used to track. These Twitter rankings should become more important in coming seasons and likely factored in to this past season’s renewal decisions for low rated shows like Hannibal and maybe even Beauty and the Beast (though I think it was actually the alien overlords who decreed that latter show should get renewed).

But I can see where the numbers-obsessed network execs could have used the overnights themselves to justify the cancellations of all the shows listed below when you don’t factor in scheduling hurdles or other intangibles. Still, I do believe that we are on the verge of seeing that change as Twitter activity, online viewing, and other factors work towards playing a larger part in determining the success of a show. But when we do start capturing all these other numbers and have more solid statistics, what new arguments will us fans of cancelled sci fi shows devise to complain that their favorite series was not treated fairly?

Full season* average ratings for the 2013-14 cancelled sci fi / fantasy shows based on the overnights in the 18-49 demographic:


Series Network / Airs (EST) Cancel- lation Alert StD Rating Target StD Airings
Almost Human FOX / Mon 8 PM Cancelled 1.8 2.0 13
Revolution NBC / Wed 8 PM Cancelled 1.4 1.8 22
Intelligence CBS / Mon 10 PM Cancelled 1.3 2.0 13
Believe NBC / Sun 9 PM Cancelled 1.2 1.8 12
Dracula NBC / Fri 10 PM Cancelled 1.1 1.4 10
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland ABC / Thu 8 PM Cancelled 1.0 2.0 13
The Neighbors ABC / Fri 8:30 PM Cancelled 1.0 1.3 22
The Tomorrow People CW / Mon 9 PM Cancelled 0.5 0.8 22
Being Human Syfy / Mon 9 PM Cancelled 0.5 0.6 13
Star-Crossed CW / Mon 8 PM Cancelled 0.3 0.7 13

*NBC’s Believe is still airing out its first season as of this post.

Ratings Source: TV by the Numbers

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2014 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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