Last night, CBS’ Extant had its second season debut and pulled only a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic based on the overnights with 5.2 million total viewers (per the preliminary results). That has the show at a series low and its future currently looks somewhat bleak. This series bowed last season as a highly anticipated entry which starred Academy Award winning Halle Berry, but it never quite lived up to expectations ratings-wise. It averaged a 1.1 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo, which was lower than CBS’ other sci fi entry Under the Dome (which had a 1.6 average). However, both shows have international financing backing them and an exclusive deal with Amazon Instant Video (the streaming service offers the new episodes as part of their Prime service several days after their live broadcast), and this made both shows profitable to the network on the front end. But even taking that into consideration, CBS may be scrutinizing these two closely right now. Under the Dome also experienced a drop in its numbers with its return this Summer as its Season 3 premiere last week garnered only a 1.3 rating with 6.3 million total viewers. That’s much better than Extant, though and actually acceptable levels for a Summer series (though much lower than its first season numbers), so it may be okay for now. But I have to wonder if CBS isn’t thinking that they could do better if they had something else taking Extant‘s place, and if Under the Dome sinks much further they may start questioning that one as well.
And CBS had yet another sci fi series debut over the past seven days as new entry Zoo bowed on Tuesday with a 1.2 rating and 8.2 million total viewers. I’m seeing those premiere numbers referred to as “soft” or just “okay” among the entertainment press, but they’re actually not too bad for a Summer series. FOX’s Wayward Pines is currently holding at that level and word is that the network is considering bringing it back for a second season. However, shows tend to trend down after their debuts, so it will take a few weeks to see what levels Zoo will finally settle at. Though it is likely an expensive series to produce and has already picked up some heat from PETA for its use of live animals. So if it sinks too much in the ratings, so will its chances of survival. And, to my knowledge, Zoo does not have the same partnerships as Extant and Under the Dome, though it is produced by CBS studios so the potential profits stay in house.
It’s far too early to make any solid predictions on Zoo or Under the Dome, but I definitely think that Extant is in trouble and I am starting it out at a Moderate Cancellation Alert level. Its partnerships may help keep it alive, but those ratings numbers have to be an eyesore to the CBS execs.