Summer Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: Legends Enters On the Bubble, Defiance Drops

By | August 26, 2014

The Summer season is in the process of wrapping up, so I will count this as the final set of Power Rankings for that group of shows unless something occurs that prompts me to produce another round. Starz’s Outlander enters the rankings towards the top as that one received a renewal notice shortly after its impressive–for its network–debut. TNT’s Legends enters On the Bubble because of the somewhat mediocre numbers it has pulled thus far. Consider it just marginally a bubble show, but it is definitely not performing anywhere near the level of TNT’s other freshman genre entry The Last Ship. And HBO’s The Leftovers has moved up several notches on the list after its renewal announcement. Several other shows have been shifted down because of these shows entering and/or rising on the list, but I would not count it as a dramatic realignment. The first round of the Fall Power Rankings should hit next week and that will serve as a preview of how I believe those shows will do in the coming season.

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 list 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. The number in parenthesis is the show’s prior rank. 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

(The number in parenthesis is the show’s prior rank.)

Renewed or Sure to Get Renewed

1 (1) 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. MTV should consider moving it to the regular season on a permanent basis, though, where it performed much better.
StD Rating: 0.7 | Target: 0.8 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Relative Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence, Renewed
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

2 (2) The Last Ship (TNT) – It doesn’t count as a major hit for the Summer (despite how TNT’s PR department will try to spin it), but it has done decent enough and it network felt comfortable greenlighting it for a second season.
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

Outlander-Starz-Cancelled3 (n/a) Outlander (Starz) – This show debuted to high numbers for its network and received its renewal notice almost immediately.  It has been getting some good buzz as well, so it could see its numbers rise throughout its first season and into its second.
StD Rating: n/a | Target: n/a | Status: Renewed
Pros: Renewed, Relative Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence

4 (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

5 (4) The Strain (FX) – It hasn’t seen the numbers that American Horror Story–also an FX entry–has enjoyed, but it has done well enough to earn a second season renewal.
StD Rating: 1.1 | Target: 1.0 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Decent Premiere Ratings, Strong Social Network Presence

6 (8) The Leftovers (HBO) – It got the nod for a second season even though its numbers are well below what HBO sees for True Blood or Game of Thrones.  But it is certainly a less expensive entry than either of those two and the pay channels are typically more patient with their shows.  I’m thinking they will want to see the ratings improve–if only slightly–in the show’s second year, though.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Premium Cable Channel Series, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Low Ratings

7 (5) 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 akin to a preemptive cancellation.
StD Rating: 0.8 | Target: 1.0 | Status: Renewed
Pros: Renewed
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

Likely to Get Renewed

8 (6) Witches of East End (Lifetime) – This show dropped all the way to a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights a few weeks ago.  But it has since returned to the 0.5 level.  I believe it needs to hold there to get the third season nod.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings
Cons: Mediocre Ratings

9 (7) Under the Dome (CBS) – Even though its numbers have dropped, it has managed to consistently rank in the Top 10/15 for its ratings and total viewers among Summer shows.  If it can hold there, I’d say there’s a good chance that CBS will bring it back for another year at this point.  But they may ask for some re-tooling.
StD Rating: 1.6 | Target: 1.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low
Pros: Relative Ratings, Top 10 Show, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Year Over Year Ratings Decline

On the Bubble

Legends-tnt-cancelled10 (n/a) Legends (TNT) – This show bowed to somewhat mediocre numbers and it hasn’t made any real waves on the social network charts.  If TNT expected this one to pull numbers similar to The Last Ship, then they definitely must be disappointed with it.  Still, it is a less expensive production, so maybe they will give it some time.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Cons: Mediocre Ratings

11 (10) Dominion (Syfy) – This one wrapped up its first season after only eight episodes and it averaged a 0.5 rating in the demo just like Defiance. That seems to be on the low side, but it did generate a fair amount of social network activity based on General Sentiment and what I have seen on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site. If the fans can keep up the buzz now that it is off the air, maybe Syfy will see fit to greenlight a second season.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate
Pros: Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Moderate Debut Numbers, Mediocre Ratings

12 (9) Defiance (Syfy) – This show could only muster a 0.4 rating in the 18-49 demo based on the overnights for last week’s back-to-back episode airing.  That’s half the ratings score that the show averaged for its first season and I am raising it to a Medium Cancellation Alert status.  Syfy can be somewhat unpredictable, though, so it may still be okay.  But the show has definitely underperformed in its second year.
StD Rating: 0.5 | Target: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Notable Social Network Presence
Cons: Mediocre Ratings, Year Over Year Ratings Decline, Ratings Decline in Season

13 (11) Extant (CBS) – This one has fallen far considering the high expectations that greeted it when it debuted. But 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 that has to factor in somewhere. But I’m thinking CBS will be reluctant to put this on their schedule again next Summer, so the show may have to hope that Amazon will step in as the primary backer to keep it going.
StD Rating: 1.2 | Target: 1.4 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Pros: Exclusive Amazon Streaming Deal, Strong Social Network Presence
Cons: Moderate Debut in 18-49 Demo, Declining Ratings

14 (12) The Lottery (Lifetime) – This show has still delivered little in the way of a ratings pulse or buzz across the social networks. Unless Lifetime got the series on the cheap, I’m thinking it will be one season and done for it.
StD Rating: n/a | Target: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Medium
Cons: Poor Debut in 18-49 Demo, Declining Ratings

Final Season

True Blood (HBO) – As expected, this one saw its numbers rise for its finale, but overall it was down for the season.  Still, it delivered a pretty darn good seven year run for HBO.
StD Rating: 1.8 | Target: 1.5 | Status: Final Season

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4 thoughts on “Summer Sci Fi TV Power Rankings: Legends Enters On the Bubble, Defiance Drops

  1. Maverick

    Just a point of clarification – Defiance has not had its season finale, as was reported in this article. That will be happening tomorrow night, 8/28/14. Last week was a double episode night for the show.

      1. Maverick

        Thanks for tuning in this season! It was a fun ride and we’re hoping that SyFy lets us do it again for another season. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The state of Science Fiction (and Fantasy) as of Fall 2014

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