Cancellation Watch: Outlander Has a Good Debut for Starz, Plus a Look at Dominion’s “Mediocre Ratings”

By | August 13, 2014

Unless otherwise noted, the ratings numbers below are based on the final overnights and may vary slightly from the preliminaries reported on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site.

Outlander-Starz-CancelledSeries Premiere:  Starz’s new sci fi series Outlander–helmed by BGS’s Ronald Moore–had a good debut by that network’s standards this last Saturday evening.  It did not make it into the Cable Top 100 for the night, but it pulled 720k total viewers for its 9 PM EST airing which counts as a sizable tally for that pay channel.  It also had 900k viewings online from its pre-debut sneak peak and the total airings for the weekend plus the online viewing brought it to 3.7 million which counts as a record for that channel.  Similar to Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, it’s hard to get a good gauge on what all that really means because these networks do not place as much emphasis on the overnight numbers (they are looking to boost subscribers, not sell advertising).  But based on the record-breaking numbers, Outlander is definitely off to a good start.  I will track its progress as best I can–it will be hard to get numbers for it on a weekly basis–but I would say that its chances for earning a second season look good at this point.

On the Hot Seat: I’ve had some questions across the Twitter-verse about my comments on the “mediocre ratings” for Syfy’s Dominion, so I thought I would go into a bit more detail here.  That show–which wrapped up its first season last week–averaged a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights.  That is an okay number for Syfy and two of that network’s 2013-14 season shows–Haven and Helix–were renewed after averaging only a 0.4 rating.  Dominion, though, is a more expensive entry and my thinking is that Syfy wants slightly higher numbers in order to get more for the advertising slots that pay for its production costs.  And while some might want to throw in the numbers for DVR viewing and/or online streaming, that fact is that the former means nothing to sponsors seeing as people typically fastforward through the commercials and the latter still generates very little in advertising revenue (though I believe it will become more of a factor in the coming years).  Last year, Syfy’s Defiance–also a costly entry like Dominion–averaged a 0.8 rating based on the overnights, and I am thinking the network wanted to see numbers similar to that this year for both shows.  I set their target at a modest 0.6, but they are  one tick below that.  And and genre fans should not forget that Syfy is just as quick to cancel shows as the broadcast networks when the executives think they are under-performing (just look at the fates of fan favorites like Stargate: Universe, Alphas, and Eureka).  So currently, both Defiance and Dominion are several ticks below the bar that the former series set last year, even if they can’t be called disastrous numbers.  But that is why I consider Dominion’s ratings to be “mediocre” for its first season.  In the show’s favor, though, is the fact that it has placed well on the General Sentiment charts which track social network activity related to television shows.  And that is becoming a much more important gauge of a show’s audience these days even if the networks have not found a way to generate revenue from those venues yet (they are working hard on it, though).  With Dominion‘s first season completed and with its less than spectacular ratings performance, the best thing that fans can do for now is continue to make noise on Twitter and Facebook to bring attention to the series as the Syfy network executives are mulling over whether they should bring it back for a second season.  That might provide just enough of an additional nudge in the show’s favor to overcome its “mediocre ratings”.

Following are the full ratings results* for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Saturday 8/9 thru Monday 8/11 with my comments.  And keep an eye on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the latest numbers and any breaking news.

Outlander Starz Sat 8/9 9 PM
Rating: n/a | Tot Viewers: 0.7 | StD Rating: n/a | Target: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It’s off to a good start and the pay channels are generally more patient anyway.

True Blood HBO Sun 8/10 9 PM
Rating: 1.8 | Tot Viewers: 3.3 | StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 1.5 | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

Only two more episodes of this one left.  I expect the numbers to rise for the show’s finale.

Witches of East End LIFE Sun 8/10 9 PM
Rating: 0.4 | Tot Viewers: 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped to a series low, but we’ll give it a mulligan for the week because the break it took last week may have confused the regular viewers.  But I’m thinking this one needs to stay at a 0.5 ratings average or above in the demo to earn a second season.

The Last Ship TNT Sun 8/10 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | Tot Viewers: 4.6 | StD Rating: 1.1 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Still steady sailing for this show and it is still doing well with the total viewers where it typically wins Sunday night among non-sports cable shows.

The Leftovers HBO Sun 8/10 10 PM
Rating: 0.8 | Tot Viewers: 1.6 | StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Is that 0.8 rating average in the demo going to be enough?  The pay channels typically announce renewals pretty quickly, but this one is closing in on the end of its season (three episodes to go) and no word yet.  Is that a bad sign?

The Strain FX Sun 8/10 10 PM
Rating: 1.0 | Tot Viewers: 2.0 | StD Rating: 1.1 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped back down to a 1.0 rating in the demo, but it’s still doing okay.  Expect the official renewal announcement at any time (the unofficial word is that it has already received the second season nod).

The Lottery LIFE Sun 8/10 10 PM
Rating: n/a | Tot Viewers: n/a | StD Rating: n/a | Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

With this one barely registering in the ratings, I have to think it is in trouble.  It’s hard to say for certain with some of these cable channels, though.  It’s not generating much social network activity either, so it doesn’t have much in its favor at the moment.

Falling Skies TNT Sun 8/10 10 PM
Rating: 0.6 | Tot Viewers: 2.5 | StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This show is down to a series low.  Could TNT shorten the order to the fifth season that it has already greenlit?

Under The Dome CBS Mon 8/11 10 PM
Rating: 1.5 | Tot Viewers: 6.8 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped back down a tick this week as this show continues to perform well below the levels it delivered last year.  It still has maintained its place in the Top 10/15 (unlike Extant), so I believe it is okay for now.

Teen Wolf MTV Mon 8/11 10 PM
Rating: 0.7 | Tot Viewers: 1.7 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Target: 0.8 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This one improved by a tick this week.  And I expect its numbers to continue to improve as it heads toward its season finale (four episodes to go) over the coming weeks.

*Metric Definitions:

Rating: Overnight rating in the 18-49 demographic for same day viewing based on the final numbers unless otherwise noted

Tot Viewers:  Estimated total viewers to tune in to the episode for same day viewing

StD Rating:  Season to date average for the rating metric tracked above.

Target:  The estimated average rating that the show needs to sustain to get renewed.

Cancellation Alert:  My prediction of the likelihood that a show will get cancelled.  From least to most likely the statuses are Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, and High.

Ratings Source: TV by the Numbers

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

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