Cancellation Watch: Syfy’s The Expanse, Childhood’s End, and The Magicians Make a Minimal Impression on the Nielsens, Plus the Broadcast Network and Cable Scorecards

By | December 18, 2015

the-expanse-syfy-cancelledIt was a big week for Syfy with the premieres of their mini-series Childhood’s End and space epic The Expanse as well as a preview for The Magicians (that series proper starts January 25th).  Unfortunately, Nielsen had little in the way of good news to offer for the ratings results from these shows.  Childhood’s End averaged a 0.36 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic across its six hours, The Expanse averaged a 0.30 rating across its Monday and Tuesday airings, and The Magicians managed only a 0.26 rating.  I wouldn’t quite call those disastrous numbers, but I’m sure Syfy was disappointed with the Nielsen report.  Childhood’s End was a one-off, though, and not trying to launch a series like the Battlestar: Galactica and Ascension minis were built to do (the former worked, the latter didn’t).  The Expanse on the other hand is supposedly Syfy’s answer to Game of Thrones but didn’t pull anywhere near the audience levels of that acclaimed HBO show.  And The Magicians (which is apparently trying to be an adult Harry Potter) doesn’t look like it is off to a good start either.  It is notable that Syfy is pushing hard for online viewing of The Expanse as the first episode was released to the internet early and you can currently watch all the way up to episode four (at this link).  Perhaps the network has shifted a fair amount of its sponsor exposure to that platform knowing that linear viewing of episodes during their live broadcast is becoming a thing of the past.  And the fact is that Syfy has tended to give shows a second season even if they pull mediocre to poor numbers in their first year apparently in an attempt to give them the chance to build an audience.  But I still have to start The Expanse out at a Moderate Cancellation Alert seeing as its current ratings are at the same level that got Defiance and Dominion cancelled this last Summer.  It is possible that the online viewing numbers could help its cause, and I will keep an eye on Syfy’s press releases to see if they are posting those results.  But unfortunately The Expanse does not appear to be off to a strong start.  As for The Magicians, I’m going to hold off until its January start to get a better gauge on where it stands.

As for the ratings results for other shows this week, a lot of the sci fi / fantasy entries are currently on hiatus but several notable shows did still have new episodes.  On CBS Supergirl remained at a 1.5 rating based on the overnights and that one will need to get its numbers back up when it returns in January if it wants to fly into a second season.  Limitless held steady with its last new episode at a 1.3 rating, but that is a series low and the scheduling hijinks by CBS of repeats and preemptions are doing it no favors.  On FX, American Horror Story slipped to a series low 0.94 rating for its Fall finale and it didn’t even top the night among cable shows which it has typically done in the past.  It has already been renewed for a sixth season and it will reset its story next year, but this show has definitely lost its former powerhouse status with the Nielsens.

A renewal announcement came out this week for a show that many people probably didn’t realize is still on.  The Canadian CTV and U.S. ION announced that Saving Hope had been renewed for a fifth season.  That supernatural-tinged show, which stars Stargate veteran Michael Shanks, aired its first season on NBC as a Summer series a few years back but the peacock network elected not to carry it for a second year.  Its Canadian home channel kept it going, though, and the cable channel ION picked it up for a U.S. run which began this Fall starting with the first season (it airs Tuesdays at 11 PM EST).  I am guessing ION will have viewers in the States caught up by the time that the fifth season is ready to air, which will probably be Fall 2016.  And in cancellation announcements, Hulu has decided to part ways with Seth Meyers’ animated superhero parody The Awesomes after three seasons.  The producers are shopping it around to other venues, though, so a fourth season could still happen.  That show was one of Hulu’s first original scripted entries.

The Broadcast Network scorecard saw a fair amount of shuffling up and down by a slot or two from last week.  But most notable is the fact that Grimm has now slipped to the bottom.  That is partly because it is a Friday show and NBC currently has the highest ratings average among the broadcast networks based on my calculations (non-sports, non-specials, non-repeats, and no Saturday shows).  But being at the bottom of the heap gets your Cancellation Alert raised, so this one now goes to a Medium level.  It is a Call to Action show and fans need to get active if they want it to continue into a sixth year.  The scorecard ranks all of the broadcast net sci fi / fantasy shows ratings performance vs. their network’s season to date average for non-sports, non-repeat programming during the week (based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic).  Shows at or above their network’s average should be okay, whereas those slipping notably below are getting into iffy territory.

Broadcast network scorecard based on the ratings through December 16th:

Rank (PW) Series Net Std Avg Net Avg Var Live+7 Avg Rtg Cancel Alert
1 (1) The Flash (O) CW 1.41 0.63 0.78 2.30 Low
2 (2) Arrow (O) CW 1.04 0.63 0.42 1.50 Low
3 (3) Supergirl CBS 1.86 1.57 0.29 3.04 Low
4 (4) Supernatural (O) CW 0.74 0.63 0.12 1.24 Low
5 (7) Gotham FOX 1.51 1.53 -0.02 2.66 Low
6 (6) Limitless (O) CBS 1.52 1.57 -0.06 2.66 Low
7 (9) Once Upon A Time (O) ABC 1.57 1.63 -0.06 2.66 Low
8 (5) iZombie (O) CW 0.57 0.63 -0.06 0.90 Moderate
9 (8) Vampire Diaries (O) CW 0.56 0.63 -0.07 1.10 Low
10 (10) The Originals (O) CW 0.42 0.63 -0.21 0.83 Low
11 (11) Agents of SHIELD (O) ABC 1.42 1.63 -0.21 2.53 Low
12 (12) The Last Man on Earth (O) FOX 1.28 1.53 -0.25 2.02 Elevated
13 (14) Scream Queens (O) FOX 1.05 1.53 -0.48 2.04 Elevated
14 (13) Heroes Reborn (O) NBC 1.28 1.77 -0.49 2.31 Medium
15 (15) Sleepy Hollow (O) FOX 0.91 1.53 -0.62 1.63 High
16 (17) Minority Report (O) FOX 0.71 1.53 -0.82 1.24 High
17 (16) Grimm (O) (F) NBC 0.93 1.77 -0.84 1.75 Medium

The cable scorecard is more subjective because it is not as easy (or useful) to compile network averages for the cable channels. So this is ranked based on the Cancellation Alert status of this shows from least to most likely to get cancelled.

Cable Scorecard based on ratings through December 16th:

Series Net Std Avg Prior Yr Avg Var Cancel Alert
The Walking Dead AMC 6.68 7.37 -0.69 Renewed
American Horror Story FX 1.59 1.91 -0.32 Renewed
Z Nation (O) (F) Syfy 0.32 0.48 -0.15 Renewed
Ash vs Evil Dead STARZ 0.16 n/a n/a Renewed
Star Wars Rebels DXD 0.13 0.15 -0.02 Renewed
Guardians of the Galaxy DXD 0.10 n/a n/a Renewed
Into the Badlands AMC 1.98 n/a n/a Low
The Librarians TNT 0.53 0.92 -0.39 Low
Doctor Who BBCA 0.36 n/a n/a Low
The Expanse Syfy 0.30 n/a n/a Moderate
The Leftovers HBO 0.33 0.77 -0.44 Final Season
Haven Syfy 0.19 0.22 -0.03 Cancelled

Metric Definitions:

Broadcast Network Scorecard:

Rank (PW): Current rank based on the variance of a show’s season to date ratings average vs. its network’s season to date ratings average (see metric definitions below).  The number in parenthesis is the prior week’s rank.

Series: (O) indicates the show is owned/produced by the network and/or a sister studio. (F) indicates the show airs on Friday when ratings expectations are lower.

Std Avg:  The show’s season to date ratings average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic.

Net Avg:  The network’s season to date ratings average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic for non-sports, non-special, non-repeat broadcasts.

Variance:  The variance between a show’s season to date average and the network’s season to date average as defined above.  The higher the variance, the better a show is performing vs. the network mean.

Live+7 Avg Rtg:  The show’s season to date ratings average based on delayed viewing up to seven days past the live broadcast.  This data is not available for all shows.

Cancel 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.

Cable Scorecard:

Series: (O) indicates the show is owned/produced by the network and/or a sister studio. (F) indicates the show airs on Friday when ratings expectations are lower.

Std Avg:  The show’s season to date ratings average based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic.

Prior Yr Avg:  The show’s season to date ratings average from its prior season (if applicable) based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic.

Variance:  The variance between a show’s season to date average and its Prior Year average as defined above.

Cancel 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.

One thought on “Cancellation Watch: Syfy’s The Expanse, Childhood’s End, and The Magicians Make a Minimal Impression on the Nielsens, Plus the Broadcast Network and Cable Scorecards

  1. Brenda Kay

    Even though, “The Magicians” is based on a set of books by Lev Grossman, the first episode came across like a cheap rip off of Harry Potter. The cheesy gratuitous sex scene, “mean girl” bullying and the 20-something year old American Harry, Ron and Hermione, had me switching off of the Syfy channel at the 35 minute mark. This new series is not on my watch list.

    I laughed out loud at the notion that “The Expanse” is supposedly the Syfy channel’s version of “The Game of Thrones”, because the two episode which I watched reminded me of the other Syfy channel series, “Dark Matter” than anything else. While I wasn’t overly impressed with “The Expanse”, I’ll continue to watch it just to see where the story goes.

    I cautiously had high hopes that “Childhood’s End” would be as good as Syfy’s other novel adaptation “Dune”, but I was sorely mistaken, and given the ratings, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only person left unimpressed. A number of important details in the book “Childhood’s End”, which explained key elements of the story, were inexplicably missing from the mini series. And the ending, which should have been thought-provoking and somber, felt rushed and cheap, as if the producers had gone over budget and needed to wrap it up quickly.

    Unfortunately for the Syfy channel, they have squandered and abused much of their loyal viewers patience and trust by abruptly cancelling fan favorite shows or worse, misleading the viewers such as they did with the mini series “Ascension” which ended on a very annoying cliff hanger. Put simply, I don’t want to waste my time becoming invested in a Syfy channel series, because the likelihood of it being cancelled are extremely high with the network.

    In closing out this comment, I have to say that I’m not really surprised that “AHS: Hotel” has dropped significantly in the ratings. This season’s storyline has been rather awful and needlessly gory.

    Reply

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