Sci Fi Cancellation Watch: As TV Viewership Continues to Fracture and Decline, Will One of More of the Broadcast Nets Fall? Plus the Full Ratings Round Up

By | October 27, 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.

gotham-fox-cancelledThe ratings for the broadcast networks have been slipping for years, and this past Spring / Summer we saw the slump extend to the cable channels as well.  But typically in the the Fall, the broadcast nets recharge their numbers a little bit before dropping back down in the Spring.  Not this year, though.  Most shows have returned at the lows they were experiencing at the end of the 2014-15 season or lower.  And the new entries have provided little in the way of a ratings boost.  With sponsors starting to shift their advertising money to digital platforms and other areas, you have to wonder how much longer this can go on before one or more of the broadcast networks goes under or gets absorbed.  The fact is that all of the Big Four are under-performing at about the same level with ABC and CBS averaging a 1.7 score based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo for non-sports programming.  NBC and FOX are just one tick higher at 1.8 average, but the latter net’s score is deceptively skewed by last season’s breakout hit Empire and their average is only a 1.3 with that taken out.  And this is when The CW should have been trying to make up ground on the Big Four, but it hasn’t been able to do that as it currently stands at just a 0.6 average.  At those numbers for the fifth place network (and they look much worse if you take The Flash and Arrow out), you have to wonder if it might not be around much longer as it could get absorbed by co-owner CBS or just shutter its doors altogether.  But I’ve been saying that off and on for years and The CW continues to defy the odds, so maybe it manages to stick around.  The next candidate would be FOX as that network’s schedule is a disaster when you throw Empire out.  It looks like they have squandered Gotham (though I always questioned whether that concept was built for a long run), and their new shows from this season are flopping left and right.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a complete schedule makeover for FOX at mid-season and that could apply to all of the networks as they scramble for the viewership scraps in this increasingly fractured television audience.  I’ve been saying for a while that the television landscape is changing and I truly believe that we could see one or more of the broadcast networks falter and/or change its look completely in the coming year or more.  And I expect a large wave of cancellations (the Summer season has already given us a leading indicator of this) as the networks try to figure out how to survive in this ever evolving and quickly changing landscape.

One show, at least, got some good news this week.  El Rey network’s From Dusk Till Dawn The Series has been renewed for a third season.  That news came as no big surprise, though, as the show is not being tasked with pulling in a large number of viewers on that fledgling network (my sources don’t even report El Rey’s numbers, so I’m not sure what the viewership has been for the show).  It has received some good word of mouth and apparently plays well to the audience that network targets (primarily Latino males), so that has apparently been good enough to keep it going for another year.  The third season will likely have ten episodes like the first two and it will air in 2016.  The Season 2 finale airs tonight at 9 PM EST.

Here’s a quick round up of the big announcements from this last week:  CBS has given a full season order to new series Limitless.  ABC has officially cancelled their Summer series The Whispers.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday October 19th thru Sunday October 25th (metric definitions below):

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

Gotham FOX Mon 10/19 8 PM
Rating: 1.3 | % Chng PW: -13.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 4.2 | StD Rating: 1.5 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show slipped to a series low, though it is still one of the best rated shows on FOX. But I don’t know if that is enough to protect it from the schedule revamp I expect to hit this network by mid-season or year end. For now I will count it as safe.

Minority Report FOX Mon 10/19 9 PM
Rating: 0.6 | % Chng PW: -14.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.8 | StD Rating: 0.8 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: High

This show slipped yet again in the ratings and I’m surprised that FOX hasn’t already kicked it to Fridays or Saturdays. But the network is doing so bad this season that maybe it just doesn’t have to many options at the moment.

The Flash CW Tue 10/20 8 PM
Rating: 1.4 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.5 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

Here’s an interesting statistic for you: for the week, this show beat every one of FOX’s genre entries except The Last Man on Earth, and that show’s numbers were up only because it benefited from the the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” lead-in. The Flash also tied or beat every genre show on the broadcast nets this week except Once Upon A Time and Agents of SHIELD. If only the other CW shows could keep up this pace.

Agents of SHIELD ABC Tue 10/20 9 PM
Rating: 1.5 | % Chng PW: +7.1% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.8 | StD Rating: 1.6 | Net Avg: 1.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It improved slightly from last week and is still doing well enough for a third season show. If it can’t hold at these levels, though, here are some scenarios on what could happen.

iZombie CW Tue 10/20 8 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.3 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This one saw a 65% drop from its Flash lead-in for a second week in a row. How much longer will The CW tolerate that?

Scream Queens FOX Tue 10/20 9 PM
Rating: 1.0 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.6 | StD Rating: 1.2 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It held steady with last week, but steadily low. And no sign of it in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10, so interest seems to be fading quickly.

Limitless CBS Tue 10/20 10 PM
Rating: 1.4 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 7.9 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It remained at its season low point, but CBS still gave it a full season order. That’s not the same as a second season renewal, though, and that’s definitely not guaranteed at this point.

Chart Activity: As this show’s numbers decline, so does its position on the charts as it slipped to Number 24 in the broadcast network Top 25 based on total viewers (down from Number 22).

Arrow CW Wed 10/21 8 PM
Rating: 0.9 | % Chng PW: -10.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.4 | StD Rating: 1.0 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It’s numbers keep slipping, but it is still the second highest rated show on The CW this season. I’m sure they would prefer that it at least hold steady from here, though.

Supernatural CW Wed 10/21 9 PM
Rating: 0.6 | % Chng PW: -25.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.6 | StD Rating: 0.8 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

Has the early season shine worn off for this one? It’s is now down to the levels it was seeing last year in this hour, but that is still acceptable for The CW seeing as it is currently their third highest rated show this year.

Star Wars Rebels DXD Wed 10/21 9:30 PM
Rating: 0.1 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.5 | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

Don’t expect high ratings from this one in the 18-49 demo because it skews to a younger audience. But I do expect a renewal notice at any time.

American Horror Story FX Wed 10/21 10 PM
Rating: 1.7 | % Chng PW: -22.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.2 | StD Rating: 2.3 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

This show is on a faster downward tend than it experienced last year. Is it tendency to push the envelope becoming a liability?

Chart Activity: It held steady from the prior week at Number 4 in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings.  In the cable Top 25 based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic it was at Number 6 (up from Number 9) and in the Top 25 based on total viewers it was at Number 13 (up from Number 17).

Vampire Diaries CW Thu 10/22 8 PM
Rating: 0.5 | % Chng PW: -16.7% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.2 | StD Rating: 0.6 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It slipped from last week and still looks like it is heading toward wrapping up either this season or next.

Heroes Reborn NBC Thu 10/22 8 PM
Rating: 1.1 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.8 | StD Rating: 1.4 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Medium

This show finally leveled off its decline, but I’m not sure these numbers are good enough to keep it around for another run even if it is just padding out the Heroes syndication package.

The Originals CW Thu 10/22 9 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: -20.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: 0.6 | Cancellation Alert: Low

This one is back down to a series low, but it should be okay because of its third season show status.

Sleepy Hollow FOX Thu 10/22 9 PM
Rating: 0.8 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 2.9 | StD Rating: 0.9 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: High

The numbers remain fatally low for this show. After its Bones cross-over this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if FOX kicked this one to Fridays or Saturdays (along with Minority Report) to burn off the rest of its third season episodes.

Haven Syfy Thu 10/22 10 PM
Rating: 0.2 | % Chng PW: -5.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.6 | StD Rating: 0.0 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

The numbers remain steadily low for this show as it airs out its final season.

Z Nation Syfy Fri 10/23 10 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -6.3% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.8 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

This one was down slightly from last week, but it is still probably okay at these levels because it is an inexpensive show to produce. I’m sure Syfy would prefer its numbers to be a little higher, though.

Continuum Syfy Fri 10/23 11 PM
Rating: Series Ended | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Final Season

Series ended.

Doctor Who BBCA Sat 10/24 9 PM
Rating: 0.4 | % Chng PW: +41.9% | Tot Viewers (MM): 1.0 | StD Rating: 0.4 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It improved from last week and is still pulling decent numbers for BBC America. But its viewership in Britain is more important to its fate and that has been at all-time lows this year.

Guardians of the Galaxy DXD Sat 10/24 9:30 PM
Rating: n/a | % Chng PW: n/a | Tot Viewers (MM): n/a | StD Rating: 0.1 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

Ratings results pending.

Once Upon A Time ABC Sun 10/25 8 PM
Rating: 1.6 | % Chng PW: 0.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 5.1 | StD Rating: 1.7 | Net Avg: 1.7 | Cancellation Alert: Low

It continues to hold steady and remains one the best performing broadcast network shows on Sundays, so it is safe for now.

The Walking Dead AMC Sun 10/25 9 PM
Rating: 6.7 | % Chng PW: +8.4% | Tot Viewers (MM): 13.1 | StD Rating: 6.8 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Low

It improved from last week as this show continues to walk all over the competition on the broadcast networks and cable channels.

Chart Activity: This show improved to the Number 2 slot in the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Ratings, up from Number 3 the prior week.  It held at Number 1 in the cable Top 25 based on the overnight ratings in the 18-49 demographic and it was Number 2 based on total viewers (up from Number 4).

The Leftovers HBO Sun 10/25 9 PM
Rating: 0.3 | % Chng PW: -31.6% | Tot Viewers (MM): 0.5 | StD Rating: 0.3 | Net Avg: n/a | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

This show slipped back down and you have to ask how many subscribers it is drawing in at these levels. Because for the pay channels, that is what counts for a show’s survival.

The Last Man on Earth FOX Sun 10/25 9:30 PM
Rating: 1.5 | % Chng PW: +50.0% | Tot Viewers (MM): 3.4 | StD Rating: 1.3 | Net Avg: 1.8 | Cancellation Alert: Moderate

It improved back up to its best levels of the season, but this is largely because the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episode boosted FOX’s entire lineup on Sunday. I expect this one to fall again next week.

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.

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.

2 thoughts on “Sci Fi Cancellation Watch: As TV Viewership Continues to Fracture and Decline, Will One of More of the Broadcast Nets Fall? Plus the Full Ratings Round Up

  1. Pat H

    Just a thought here. Perhaps it’s time for the networks to dump the outdated Neilsons and start rating their shows by social media. If shows were retained by the enthusiasm of the viewers as expressed on social media, fans would help grow the fanbase. I know that the thousands who supported Star-Crossed would have worked their butts off to expand viewership and keep the show. I am so pleased that Starz renewed Outlander which has a similarly enthusiastic fanbase. I am very concerned about FOX dumping Sleepy Hollow, which I really enjoy. I hope NBC defies the useless Neilsons and keeps Heroes Reborn, another show that is just enjoyable to watch.

    I realize that most of the networks are essentially dinosaurs, but if they adapt they can once again thrive.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Makes a lot of sense. The nets are paying attention to Twitter, but not to that degree yet. It could increase over the next few years, though.

      Reply

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