Sci Fi Cancellation Watch: Ratings for The Walking Dead Fall for Its Season 6 Premiere, Is the Zombie Rot Setting In? Plus the Full Ratings Round Up

By | October 13, 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.

walking-dead-S6AMC’s perennial ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead returned on Sunday and experienced a 15% drop in its ratings from its premiere a year ago as it only pulled a 7.4 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with just 14.6 million total viewers.  So is that it for this show?  Has zombie overload finally set in?  Is it in a downward spiral and headed for sure cancellation?

I’ll put this as simply as possible: not only no, but Hell No!

At a 7.4 overnight rating in these days when the broadcast networks are averaging around a 2.0 score or less for non-sports programming, any network executive would sell their first born and their trophy wife (or trophy husband) for those numbers.  Yeah, that’s lower than the 8.7 rating the show had last season for its debut (which represented a series high) and the 8.2 score it had for the S5 finale, but it is still well above anything the broadcast networks have on these days that doesn’t involve some shape of ball (usually one with pigskin) being tossed around.  And the fact is that the numbers had to come down at some point.  It’s an iron law (that many of the big corporations prefer to ignore) that what goes up must eventually come down.  And I expect the numbers to continue to drop this season (possibly into the low 5’s or high 4’s), but it’s just not going to matter.  Even if TWD was only pulling numbers in the high 2’s, it would still be mostly safe.  In the current ratings slump environment, that’s better than what most of the broadcast network shows are pulling and TWD is already in the syndication stretch with an extended life guaranteed in reruns at this point.  It’s possible that zombie overload is finally hitting the show and the ratings slump is possibly to blame as well.  But the fact that it is only pulling monster ratings now instead of gargantuan numbers is not going to hurt its status much.  Expect this show to stick around until they decide to stop making new episodes and the spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead looks good for several more seasons as well.

Here’s a quick round up of some of the announcement from this last week:  CBS cancelled Summer series Extant after two seasons and Disney XD renewed Guardians of the Galaxy for a second season (more on those at this link).  FOX cut the episode order of Minority Report to 10 episodes (more on that at this link).

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday October 5th thru Sunday October 11th (metric definitions below):

(Updated for chart activity in the broadcast network and cable channel Top 25)

Gotham FOX Mon 10/5 8 PM
Rating: 1.5 | % Chng PW: -6.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.3 | StD Rating: 1.9 | Net Avg: 2.0 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show slipped one tick, though it is still even with FOX’s overall average of a 1.5 score when you throw Empire out of the calculations.  Without that one show, the network is really hurting this year.

Minority Report FOX Mon 10/5 9 PM
Rating: 0.7 | % Chng PW: -22.2% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.1 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 1.9 | Cancellation Alert: High

Despite FOX’s struggles, these numbers are well below acceptable levels.  The network has cut the show’s episode count (more on that at this link) which likely acts as a de facto cancellation.  And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show get kicked to Fridays or Saturdays pretty soon.

The Flash CW Tue 10/6 8 PM
Rating: 1.4 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.6 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It might be down from last year’s premiere, but these are still strong numbers for The CW.  More on this one at this link.

Agents of SHIELD ABC Tue 10/6 9 PM
Rating: 1.6 | % Chng PW: -5.9% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.3 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped a bit last week, but it’s just barely below ABC’s average for non-sports programming so these numbers are likely sufficient for now.  If it drops much further, though, it could find itself in trouble.

iZombie CW Tue 10/6 8 PM
Rating: 0.7 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.5 | StD Rating: 0.7 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It returned even with its average from last year which is right where this show needs to be.  No worries for now.

Scream Queens FOX Tue 10/6 9 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: -21.4% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.0 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 1.9 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

The numbers continue to slip for this show, which is not a good thing.  FOX is struggling overall, though, and Scream Queens has stirred up some activity online, so maybe they will give it some leeway.

Chart Activity: It slipped to Number 10 in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 (down from Number 5), but then it’s still only a few rungs down from ratings juggernauts like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and Empire.

Limitless CBS Tue 10/6 10 PM
Rating: 1.7 | % Chng PW: -10.5% | Tot Viewers (MM): 9.6 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped a couple of ticks from the prior week, but its total viewer numbers still look good (which is important on older-skewing CBS) and it is only slightly off from the network’s overall ratings average for non-sports programming.  It looks safe for now.

Chart Activity: This show slipped to Number 25 (down from Number 24) for the week in the broadcast network Top 25 based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo.  In the Top 25 based on total viewers it improved to Number 14 (up from Number 16).

Arrow CW Wed 10/7 8 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.7 | StD Rating: 1.1 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show had a strong season four return and looks set to coast into a fifth year.  More on this one at this link.

Supernatural CW Wed 10/7 9 PM
Rating: 0.9 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.9 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

These are the best numbers this series has seen since moving to Wednesdays last Spring.  Season 12, here we come.

American Horror Story FX Wed 10/7 10 PM
Rating: 3.0 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.8 | StD Rating: 3.0 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It’s Season 5 premiere may have been one tick shy of the 3.1 score the show had for its debut last year.  But it is much higher than where AHS was when it wrapped up its fourth season.  The fans appear to be Gaga for Lady G. More on this one at this link.

Chart Activity: This show bowed at Number 1 on the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10, beating out The Walking Dead for the week.  It’s never done that before on premiere week, so apparently Lady Gaga trumped the zombies on the social nets.  AHS was also at the Number 3 spot for the week for cable shows based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo and at Number 5 based on total viewers.

Vampire Diaries CW Thu 10/8 8 PM
Rating: 0.6 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.4 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show matched its series low for its Season 7 debut.  With its star having departed it’s likely that this year or next could be its last.

Chart Activity: It still managed to make it to the Number 9 slot on the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10.  I expect it to drop out next week, but making it into the Top 10 is quite an accomplishment considering the other shows on the list for the week.

Heroes Reborn NBC Thu 10/8 8 PM
Rating: 1.2 | % Chng PW: -25.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.4 | StD Rating: 1.6 | Net Avg: 2.1 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

Another drop for this show and its prospects are looking grim.  Apparently the nostalgia was just not too strong for the original series.  But since the revival is just padding out the syndication package, there’s still a chance that NBC could elect to keep it around.  More on this one at this link.

The Originals CW Thu 10/8 9 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.9 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: 0.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show tied its series low with its Season 3 premiere.  But it has the third season show status, so it’s still on track for a fourth year.

Sleepy Hollow FOX Thu 10/8 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.3 | StD Rating: 1.0 | Net Avg: 1.9 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

The good news: it held steady with the prior week.  The bad news: it’s numbers were already below acceptable levels.  Don’t be surprised if this one gets kicked to Fridays or Saturdays pretty soon (with Minority Report tagging along).

Z Nation Syfy Fri 10/9 10 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: +14.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.9 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It improved slightly from the prior week and this continues to be Syfy’s best rated series.  Vegas is giving good odds on a third season at the moment.

Continuum Syfy Fri 10/9 11 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: +40.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.4 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

It improved slightly from the prior week as it heads into its series finale this Friday.

Doctor Who BBCA Sat 10/10 9 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: +12.5% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.9 | StD Rating: 0.5 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It was up slightly from the prior week which is good news for the show seeing as its numbers are currently wavering over in Britain.

Guardians of the Galaxy DXD Sat 10/10 9:30 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: -44.4% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.4 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped from the prior week but it also got a second season renewal.  More on that at this link.

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 10/11 8 PM
Rating: 1.6 | % Chng PW: -11.1% | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.3 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped from the prior week but still tied as the top rated scripted show on the broadcast networks on Sunday night.  It’s still okay for now.

The Walking Dead AMC Sun 10/11 9 PM
Rating: 7.4 | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): 14.6 | StD Rating: 7.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It dropped from last year’s season premiere and finale, but it is still pulling monster numbers and it’s not going anywhere.  More on this one above.

Chart Activity: This show bowed at the Number 2 slot on the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 behind the debut of FX’s American Horror Story.  That’s the first time AHS beat out TWD on premiere week on that chart.  But TWD was still the Number 1 broadcast on cable last week based on the overnight ratings in the 18-49 demo and total viewers (and it beat out ESPN’s Monday Night Football).  And an encore run of the series premiere at 11:30 PM EST came in as the Number 13 broadcast based on the ratings.

The Leftovers HBO Sun 10/11 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -24.2% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It slipped from its premiere and you have to wonder if HBO isn’t considering cutting ties with this show at season end.

The Last Man on Earth FOX Sun 10/11 9:30 PM
Rating: 1.2 | % Chng PW: -20.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.3 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 1.9 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It continues to slip and it was FOX’s lowest rated comedy on Sunday.  I’d say its survival chances are iffy at this point.

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.

Net Avg:  The season to date average rating for the network for non-sports programming and non-repeats.  This data is available for the broadcast networks only.

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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