Cancellation Watch: The Ratings Slump Continues; The Walking Dead Mid-Season Return Sets No Records

By | February 11, 2015

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.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Friday Feb 6th thru Monday Feb 9th (analysis and metric definitions below):

Grimm NBC Fri 2/6 9 PM
Rating: 1.2 | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.7 | StD Rating: 1.3 | Target: 1.2 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It got the expected renewal despite its ratings drop this season.  But it has already started its syndication run on TNT and one more season just pads out its episode count.

Constantine NBC Fri 2/6 10 PM
Rating: 0.8 | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.0 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Target: 1.1 | Cancellation Alert: High

This Friday’s season finale will almost certainly be its last episode on NBC.  But it may not be the last episode for the show (more on that at this link).

12 Monkeys Syfy Fri 2/6 9 PM
Rating: 0.2 | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.7 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

This show has been getting some decent buzz from the fan community, but that’s not translating into ratings. (More on this one below)

Helix Syfy Fri 2/6 10 PM
Rating: 0.1 | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.5 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Target: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

At this level, it barely even registers on the ratings scale.  This show is certainly a goner.  (More on this one below)

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 2/8 8 PM
Rating: On Hiatus | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 2.6 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

On hiatus until March 1st

The Walking Dead AMC Sun 2/8 9 PM
Rating: 8.0 | Tot Viewers (MM): 15.6 | StD Rating: 7.5 | Target: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Is it a record that it didn’t set a record with its mid-season premiere?  No worries for this one, though, at these ratings levels.  (More on this one below)

The Originals CW Mon 2/9 8 PM
Rating: 0.5 | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.2 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Target: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

After pulling a 0.7 for several weeks (good for The CW on a Monday), it suddenly takes a drop.  Expect it to rebound next week though.

Gotham FOX Mon 2/9 8 PM
Rating: 1.8 | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.6 | StD Rating: 2.3 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

I don’t understand why this one keeps dropping.  The fans seem engaged and the show is still getting good buzz.  I’m writing it off to the ratings slump for now.  (More on this one below)

Sleepy Hollow FOX Mon 2/9 9 PM
Rating: 1.2 | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.9 | StD Rating: 1.6 | Target: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

Ratings slump or no, these are not good levels for this show.  It needs to improve for its final Season 2 episodes.  (More on this one below)

Gotham-FOX-CancelledRatings Slump: The ratings for the broadcast networks (and several of the cable channels) have been trending down for years and in late Winter / Spring of last year we saw a noticeable drop off in the numbers.  They improved some when the Fall 2014 season kicked off, but they were still lower than the results seen the previous Fall.  And now we are seeing yet another ratings slump hitting pretty hard across the television channels, particularly the broadcast networks.  The numbers are down from Fall and seem to be sinking each week as the broadcast nets appear to be heading for new lows.  So what does this mean for your favorite shows if their ratings are on the decline?  Well, mostly that depends on where they stand compared to the other scripted shows on their networks.  For example, Gotham slipped to a series low rating of 1.8 score in the 18-49 demo on Monday, but it has already been renewed and it is still one of FOX’s top rated shows.  I don’t see the network changing its mind on the renewal any time soon.  On the same night, though, Sleepy Hollow also slipped to a series low at 1.2 rating.  FOX turned the cold shoulder on that one last month and it is in the lower half of the ranking of FOX’s shows, so it has some reason to worry.  I’m not certain how low the numbers will go this season and I have to wonder if one or more of the Big Four (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) could find itself close to desperation by the end of the season.  And this will make some of the predictions for current struggling shows a bit more dicey.  Does the network hold on to underperforming shows in fear of worse losses from new entries, or do they take the risk of a big shake-up hoping to turnaround the numbers?  The next few months could be quite interesting, so be sure to stick around.

Mid-Season Premiere:  On Sunday, The Walking Dead returned from its Winter hiatus and pulled an 8.0 rating in the 18-49 demo with 15.6 million total viewers.  Those are eye-popping numbers, but they don’t set any records for the show.  Its mid-season premiere last year pulled an 8.2 rating and is fifth season premiere had an 8.7 score (both of those were record breakers).  So Sunday’s 8.0 seems kind of ho hum for the show.  Still, the broadcast nets would sell their first borns to have half that score, so no concerns for the show at this point.  It has been a given that it will have to drop down at some point from the lofty ratings heights it has seen the last few years, and its current season overall average still has it at its highest level yet.  This show currently has plenty of leeway and I still say it will go out on its own terms long before there are ever talks of cancellation.

On the Hot Seat: Syfy’s Friday shows dropped further last week and I’m not sure that can be written off to the ratings slump. That trend applies more to the broadcast networks and many the cable channels have actually been seeing gains over the past few years. Not so for Syfy, though. 12 Monkeys slipped to a 0.2 rating in the 18-49 demo with 730k total viewers while Helix barely registered at a 0.1 score with 480k total viewers. With numbers like those I can’t see any scenario where those two shows stick around for another season. And this seems to be proving the point that genre fans continue to reject the Syfy brand even though it is trying to get back to more science fiction oriented scripted programming. I am raising the cancellation alert on both to Medium and that will go higher if they stay at these levels another week.

Be sure keep an eye on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week.  You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page. And for more information on where I get these numbers and how I make my Cancellation Alert assessments, check out the Cancelled Sci Fi FAQ.

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 and ShowBuzzDaily

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

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