Sci Fi Cancellation Watch: Fear the Walking Dead Kicks Off with a Record Breaking Debut, Plus Defiance is Struggling and the Full Ratings Round Up

By | August 25, 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.

Fear-the-Walking-Dead-AMC-CancelledSeries Premiere: On Sunday, AMC’s spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead bowed with a 4.9 rating in the overnights for 18-49 demographic with 10.1 million total viewers, which was not at the same levels as the parent series (TWD‘s fifth season premiere pulled an 8.7 score and it averaged a 7.4), but it was still a record breaking performance.  The spin-off series had the highest rating ever for a basic cable premiere and far outpaced the original debut of TWD which pulled a 1.9 rating.  And Fear the Walking Dead‘s numbers are far and above any non-sports / non-special programming we have seen on cable or the broadcast networks this Summer.  Now the question is whether FtWD will start trending downward over the next few weeks (the typical pattern following a debut), or do like its parent series and edge upward.  I’m guessing the numbers will drop next week because the premiere likely drew many curious onlookers from among TWD fans and the new show is currently more of a slowburn than the original.  But I don’t expect them to drop far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they edged upward by the time of the season finale.  FtWD only has six episodes planned for its first season (just like TWD‘s inaugural year) and AMC picked it up for two seasons out of the gate (year two will comprise fifteen episodes).  At this point the show stands as a major hit for its network, and I don’t expect its numbers to trail off too much (and don’t be surprised if we start hearing rumblings of a second spin-off series).

On the Hot Seat: On Friday, Syfy’s Defiance had a 0.24 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo with 1.1 million total viewers which was up slightly from the prior week’s 0.21 ratings score.  Its overall numbers are down, though, in its third season, but that can in part be attributed to the ratings slump the cable channels are experiencing and it is performing at about the same levels as Syfy’s other Summer entries Dominion and Dark Matter.  However, I believe that Defiance is an expensive series to produce, and Syfy is carrying most if not all of the production cost as the show does not have a partnership with an international network (like Dark Matter and Killjoys do).  It was once pegged as the network’s flagship, but its numbers have dropped significantly from its first season, going from a 0.8 average to a 0.5 and now a 0.3.  I am moving it to a Medium Cancellation Alert status at this point, and I expect that we will hear word on the fate of all Syfy’s Summer shows within the next few weeks.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday August 17th thru Sunday August 23rd (metric definitions below):

(Updated for Chart Activity in the Top 25 for the broadcast and cable networks)

The Whispers ABC Mon 8/17 10 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: -16.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.5 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Cancellation Alert: Elevated

The numbers for this show continue to drop, to levels that are bad even for a Summer show. Plus, the actors have already been released from their contracts, so a second season is almost out of the question at this point.

Teen Wolf MTV Mon 8/17 10 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: +4.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.1 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It improved slightly for its second to last Summer episode and the second half of its fifth season will likely air in early 2016.

Chart Activity: It improved to the Number 3 slot on the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings, up from Number 6.  Fear the Walking Dead will almost certainly keep it out of the top slot for its mid-season finale, though.

Zoo CBS Tue 8/18 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | % Chng PW: -16.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.9 | StD Rating: 1.1 | Cancellation Alert: Low

The numbers for this show keep fluctuating and it is certainly an expensive series to produce. If it doesn’t rebound with its latest episode, I’m liking its chances less.

Chart Activity: This show slipped to the Number 18 slot (down from Number 13) on the broadcast network Top 25 based on the overnight ratings for the 18-49 demo and to the Number 10 slot (down from Number 7) in the Top 25 based on total viewers.

Proof TNT Tue 8/18 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -17.5% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.1 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It finished its first season on a low note and there has been no word of a renewal yet. Neither of those are promising signs for the show.

Scream MTV Tue 8/18 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This show continues to hang in that at the “ratings noise” levels, but it performs well with MTV’s younger target audience and it has already been renewed for a second season.

Extant CBS Wed 8/19 9 PM
Rating: 0.7 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.5 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

This show continues to squander its Big Brother lead-in, and I’m starting to think that even its Amazon partnership and international financing will not be able to help it at this point.

Chart Activity: This show improved to the Number 20 slot (up from Number 22) in the broadcast network Top 25 based on total viewers.  Its position in the lower rungs of that chart may not be enough to help its status, though.

Beauty and the Beast CW Thu 8/20 8 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: -33.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

It was back down again to series lows, but it has already been renewed for a fourth season.

Under the Dome CBS Thu 8/20 9 PM
Rating: 0.8 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.0 | StD Rating: 1.0 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This show continues to track low and it has fallen completely out of the Top 25 based on the ratings and total viewers (where it was once a mainstay). At these levels I’m not sure even its Amazon partnership and international financing will be able to help it.

Dominion Syfy Thu 8/20 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: +13.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It edged back up from the prior week and it is still performing relatively well in comparison to Syfy’s other Summer scripted shows.  But lack of international partners could be an important factor when Syfy decides whether it will get a third season.  I still think it has a decent chance, though.

Defiance Syfy Fri 8/21 8 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: +14.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.1 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

At only a 0.24 rating in based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo, it improved only slightly from the prior week which is not good.  More on this one above.

Killjoys Syfy Fri 8/21 9 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: +5.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.9 | StD Rating: 0.2 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It didn’t have a strong finish ratings-wise for its first season, but its numbers were passable and Syfy has been patient with its new shows of late. And considering that the network is partnering with the Canadian Space Channel, I believe it has a shot at a second season.

Dark Matter Syfy Fri 8/21 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: +23.8% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This one continues to hold steady as it heads into its season finale, and it is the best performing new show for Syfy since last Fall. That and the network’s partnership with the Canadian Space Channel gives it a good shot at a second season.

Hannibal NBC Sat 8/22 10 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.5 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Cancelled

Still no word on another network picking up this show for a fourth season and time is definitely not on its side.

Humans AMC Sun 8/23 9 PM
Rating: Season Ended | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.1 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Season ended.  Returns for its second season in 2016.

Fear the Walking Dead AMC Sun 8/23 9 PM
Rating: 4.9 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 10.1 | StD Rating: 4.9 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Most who responded to our poll were a bit optimistic on this show’s debut numbers, but it is still hard to argue with that 4.9 score.  More on this one above.

Chart Activity:  No surprise that this one bowed at Number 1 in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10.  Expect it to be a fixture there for its first season and beyond.  And also no surprise that it topped the cable Top 25 based on total viewers and more more than doubled the viewership of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles which was at the Number 2 slot.  A special episode of The Talking Dead which preceded FtWD‘s premiere came in at the Number 3 slot with 4.2 million total viewers.  And if there was a combined broadcast/cable Top 25 based on the overnight ratings in the 18-49, Fear the Walking Dead would have topped that as well with more than double the 2.3 rating that top broadcast network show America’s Got Talent had.

The Last Ship TNT Sun 8/23 9 PM
Rating: 0.7 | % Chng PW: +1.4% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.7 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

Despite strong competition from Fear the Walking Dead, this show held steady.  And it has already been renewed for a third season.

Chart Activity: This show slipped one notch in the cable Top 25 based on total viewers, landing at the Number 16 slot.

The Strain FX Sun 8/23 10 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: -33.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Renewed

This was the loser among Sunday’s apocalyptic shows as it numbers took a dive for the night.  I would expect it to rebound some by next week, and it has already been renewed for a third season.

Falling Skies TNT Sun 8/23 10 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: +6.8% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.8 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

This show improved slightly with its penultimate episode and I expect even higher number next week for its series finale.

Be sure keep an eye out for the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week at the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site.  You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page and also the latest Sci Fi TV Power Rankings post. 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

% Chng PW: The percentage change +/- for this week’s rating vs. last week’s rating.

Tot Viewers: Estimated total viewers (age 2+) to tune in to the episode for same day viewing.

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

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: ©2015 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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