Summer Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: Teen Wolf is Still Looking Good, Other Genre Shows Could Be Doing Better (UPDATED)

By | July 22, 2014

Update 7/22:  I first posted this on Friday morning, but that afternoon the renewals of TNT’s The Last Ship and Falling Skies were announced and some more ratings data has flowed in since then, so I thought it was worth posting a quick update to reflect the new activity.

We are several weeks into the Summer season now, so it’s worth putting together a first batch of Power Rankings to see where all the shows stand. There’s really no breakout successes this year like last Summer’s Under the Dome though none are really tanking either. And the three shows I currently have On the Bubble are really only marginally there and probably don’t have too much to worry about at this point. New entries Extant (CBS), The Last Ship (TNT) and The Strain (FX) have performed marginally well but don’t count as ratings blockbusters, despite what their networks’ spin departments might want you to think.  Still, on the bright side, I have no shows as Likely to Get Cancelled at the moment and it could stay that way for a while.

Note that these rankings only look at shows currently airing, and new series that have aired one or less episodes will not make it into the rankings yet because I have to have some sort of a sampling to make a determination of their status. And import shows like Syfy’s The Almighty Johnsons or the BBC America entries which are not as heavily impacted by their ratings in the States are not included here either. The rankings order the shows by those least likely to get cancelled to those most likely. Any non-cancelled show in its final season will be addressed separately at the bottom. You can see the full schedule for the Summer shows at this link.

Cancellation Alert statuses from least likely to be cancelled to most likely: Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, High

Renewed or Sure to Get Renewed

Teen-Wolf-Cancelled1 Teen Wolf (MTV) – It’s ratings have slipped a bit from Season 3.5 which aired in early 2014, but it’s still doing well for its network and it also makes it into the Top 10 of the Nielsen Twitter Ratings each week. Plus, according to the California Tax Office, Season 5 has already been confirmed (I’m still waiting for the official word from MTV, though).
StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 0.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

2 The Last Ship (TNT) – Its numbers aren’t bad for a basic cable series, but then this has to be a pretty expensive production (Michael Bay style explosions and action cost money) and I’m sure the TNT execs would have preferred higher scores in the demo. Its total viewer number are definitely good though, so apparently they felt strong enough about it to give it a second season nod.
StD Rating: 1.1 | Target: 1.0 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Strong Name Recognition for Producer, Good Total Viewer Numbers
Cons: High Production Costs, Moderate Ratings

3 Penny Dreadful (Showtime) – It barely registered in the ratings, but then that’s not as important to the pay channels. It started to develop some buzz as its first season progressed and maybe by next year that will translate into an increase in its audience.
StD Rating: 0.3 | Target: 0.4 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Premium Cable Channel Series
Cons: Low Ratings

4 Falling Skies (TNT) – This one has slipped considerably from its first three seasons and it’s certainly not a cheap show to produce. It got the fifth season nod, but that will be its last, so consider it a preemptive cancellation.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Renewed
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

Likely to Get Renewed

The-Strain-FX-Cancelled5 The Strain (FX) – It hasn’t seen the numbers that American Horror Story–also an FX entry–has enjoyed, but it is doing okay across its first two episodes.  If it holds around the 1.0 rating level, then it should be good for a renewal.
StD Rating: 1.1 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Decent Premiere Ratings

6 Witches of East End (Lifetime) – Its numbers may seem low, but they are decent for Lifetime and the show is holding up pretty well in the face of timeslot competition from True Blood and The Last Ship. If it can stay at or above half a ratings point in the demo, then it should be good for a third season.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings
Cons: Mediocre Ratings

7 Under the Dome (CBS) – Its numbers have dropped notably from its first season, but that can be attributed to the overall ratings attrition the broadcast networks have experienced this past year. It’s still a Top 10 show and may also benefit from the arrangement Amazon has with CBS concerning Extant (see below), so it’s probably for now.
StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Top 10 Show
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

8 Extant (CBS) – I can’t be considered the surprise hit that Under the Dome was last Summer, but it is still doing relatively well. Plus, Amazon is picking up part of the production costs in exchange for exclusive streaming rights (and they get to stream UtD as part of that deal as well). So the overnight ratings will not be the main factor dictating the fate of Extant. And even if CBS decides to back out of a second season, Amazon may have the option of continuing the show if they feel it will bring enough subscribers.
StD Rating: 1.6 | Target: 1.4 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Top 10 Show, Exclusive Amazon Streaming Deal
Cons: Moderate Debut in 18-49 Demo

On the Bubble

the-leftovers-hbo-cancelled9 The Leftovers (HBO) – It’s hard to gauge where this one stands because it is a premium cable show and their fates are not driven as closely by the overnight ratings. But it’s definitely nowhere in the range of True Blood or Game of Thrones numbers-wise and it’s below several of HBO’s other non-genre original shows. Of course it’s likely not as expensive a production as say The Last Ship (people brooding costs a lot less than explosions), so perhaps its numbers are okay. Consider this a very marginal Bubble entry at this point.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: Premium Cable Channel Series
Cons: Low Ratings

10 Defiance (Syfy) – This show has dropped considerably from its first season and I’m sure Syfy is disappointed with the Season 2 numbers at this point. The 0.4 average in the demo that got Helix and Haven renewed during the regular season will probably not be good enough for this more expensive entry. It has risen to a 0.5 rating the last two weeks, so if it can hold there the show might be okay.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline, Mediocre Ratings

11 Dominion (Syfy) – It has been pulling numbers almost identical to Defiance since its debut which is not necessarily a good thing considering that this show is probably pretty pricey as well. The Thursday night move for Syfy’s scripted programming has not paid off thus far and maybe they should consider shifting back to Mondays or Fridays.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Cons: Moderate Debut Numbers, Mediocre Ratings

Final Season

True Blood (HBO) – It’s numbers are down during its final year, but still pretty darn good for a pay channel. I expect those ratings to rise as it gets closer to the series finale, though.
StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

Yet to Premiere

Outlander (STARZ, August 9th), Legends (TNT, August 20th)

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