Cancellation Watch: Sharks are Winning the Ratings Race on Syfy, Game of Thrones will End with Season 8, Plus the Ratings Roundup

By | August 2, 2016

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.

sharknado-4Sharks vs. Sci Fi: Over the past couple of years Syfy has claimed that they are dedicated to adding more science fiction oriented programming to their schedule and they have delivered on that promise with such offerings as the Childhood’s End mini-series and ongoing shows like The Expanse, Killjoys, Dark Matter, and 12 Monkeys. But despite beefing up their sci fi programming with shows that are getting very positive buzz from critics and fans alike, viewership for these new entries is at all-time lows for the network while the cheesier fare that Syfy has been known for like the Sharknado movies continue to pull in higher ratings. Take a look at this past year (starting with Fall 2015) in the chart below where I have compiled the average ratings for the network’s original programming vs. the Sharknado week films that aired this past week.

(Results based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic)

Rank Show Rating Result Type
1 Sharknado: The 4th Awakens 0.82 Initial Airing
2 Childhoods End 0.36 Season Avg
3 Z Nation 0.33 Season Avg
4 The Magicians 0.29 Season Avg
5 Planet of the Sharks 0.27 Initial Airing
6 Ozark Sharks 0.25 Initial Airing
7 The Expanse 0.21 Season Avg
8 Killjoys 0.19 Season Avg
9 Ice Sharks 0.18 Initial Airing
10 Dam Sharks 0.17 Initial Airing
11 Dark Matter 0.16 Season Avg
12 Wynonna Earp 0.13 Season Avg
13 12 Monkeys 0.12 Season Avg
14 Hunters 0.08 Season Avg

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens had a healthy 0.82 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with its premiere airing on Sunday.  That ranks it as the most watched Syfy original from the past year.  Top among the non-shark related entries is Childhood’s End, but that aired before the bottom fell out of the ratings this past Spring so it may be skewed a bit. Z-Nation and The Magicians are next on the list among ongoing series, though neither of those really follow that heavier sci fi focus that Syfy has aspired to (but I should note that the latter of those two is still a very good show). After that, it looks like sharks are winning or swimming even more often than not with the network’s highly touted 12 Monkeys almost at the bottom of the list and just above recently cancelled Hunters (and few of these ongoing shows are seeing much in the way of delayed viewing gains). Of course this follows a trend that we have seen for a while where sci fi fans continue to reject the network, certainly as a backlash to its re-branding in 2009 when it moved toward “genre-lite” shows like Warehouse 13, Being Human, and Haven (as well as reality shows and Wrestling). And even though it has made strides to appeal to the viewers that previously abandoned it, the ratings suggest that is not working. But fans should take note that much of the new programming is delivering the sci fi shows they have been asking for and these shows may not survive much longer at their current viewership levels. I have to believe that Syfy execs are thinking long and hard about future directions, especially after the network’s re-org this past Spring. The Sharknado movies and their ilk come cheap to Syfy because the studio that produces them (The Asylum) knows how to crank out cheesy flicks on a budget. Those films likely break even after their first airing and already start to turn a profit by their second or third. The ongoing series as well as the mini-series are considerably more expensive, especially entries like The Expanse and Childhood’s End. So what is Syfy’s incentive for going into the red on those when it can be making a quick buck on endless Sharknado and Lavalantula sequels and retreads? If Syfy decided at this point it wanted to be the Sharknado network instead of the Sci Fi Channel, the bottom line would sure justify it. And it already has a jump on ongoing programming that would fit in with that direction with high-cheese entries like Z-Nation (which also comes from The Asylum) and Wynonna Earp as well as upcoming offerings such as Van Helsing and Blood Drive. It appears the network has been hedging it bets by delivering serious science fiction as well as plenty of cheese-fests, and fans of the former are not convinced of Syfy’s commitment to that direction. Sci fi certainly hasn’t paid off at this point and if the viewership does not get higher for these shows, then a re-branding to the Sharknado network (and possibly with an extra helping of Wrestling) could be next.

Series Ending: It has been expected for a while, but HBO has confirmed that Game of Thrones will end with its eighth season. That show is heading into its seventh season which will bow in Summer 2017 (a little later than usual) and which will have its episode count shortened to seven. The eighth season will probably have about the same number of episodes and will cap off the epic series which is currently one of the most watched shows on television. HBO is considered a spin-off series, and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has plenty more material, but there are no firm plans for that at the moment. Considering the viewership for Game of Thrones, though, it would not be surprising for a connected series to show up on the schedule pretty soon after GoT ends its run.

Ratings Results of Interest: As mentioned above, Syfy’s Sharknado: The 4th Awakens had a 0.82 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 2.8 million total viewers. That was down a tick from the third Sharknado movie but was good enough that it pretty much assures that a fifth one is on the way next Summer.  Also on Sunday, TNT’s The Last Ship slipped to a 0.50 rating with 2.4 million total viewers, but that one has already been renewed for a 4th season.  AMC’s Preacher held mostly steady for its season finale and it will be returning next year for Season 2.  The preview of the upcoming Syfy series Van Helsing that followed Sharknado 4 on Sunday scored a 0.35 rating with 1.2 million total viewers which could suggest a promising start for that one in Fall.  On Friday, both Killjoys and Dark Matter rebounded from the series low levels that hit the prior week and look to be in better shape at the moment.  On Wednesday, USA’s Mr. Robot slipped to a 0.30 rating with 640k total viewers, but it was Number 2 in the Daily Nielsen Twitter Ratings for the night.  That critical darling should still be okay for now.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday July 25th thru Sunday July 31st (metric definitions below):

(Links are to the show pages on this site with season to date ratings results and status updates)

Series Airs Rating % Chng Tot Viewers STD Avg Net Avg Cancel Alert
12 Monkeys Syfy, Mon 9 PM Season Ended n/a n/a 0.1 n/a Renewed
Containment CW, Tue 9 PM Series Ended n/a n/a 0.4 0.6 Cancelled
Zoo CBS, Tue 10 PM 0.7 0.0% 4.0 0.8 1.5 Moderate
Scream MTV, Tue 10 PM 0.2 -6.3% 0.4 0.2 n/a Low
Wayward Pines FOX, Wed 9 PM 0.7 0.0% 2.2 0.7 1.5 Moderate
Mr Robot USA, Wed 10 PM 0.3 -13.3% 0.6 0.3 n/a Low
Beauty and the Beast CW, Thu 9 PM 0.2 0.0% 0.7 0.2 0.6 Final Season
Killjoys Syfy, Fri 9 PM 0.2 +58.3% 0.8 0.2 n/a Moderate
Outcast CIN, Fri 10 PM 0.1 +20.0% 0.2 0.1 n/a Renewed
Dark Matter Syfy, Fri 10 PM 0.2 +38.5% 0.7 0.2 n/a Moderate
Fear the Walking Dead AMC, Sun 9 PM On Hiatus n/a n/a 2.2 n/a Renewed
The Last Ship TNT, Sun 9 PM 0.5 -9.1% 2.4 0.5 n/a Renewed
Preacher AMC, Sun 10 PM 0.6 -1.6% 1.7 0.6 n/a Renewed
Braindead CBS, Sun 10 PM 0.5 +66.7% 2.9 0.5 1.5 Elevated

Chart Activity: Sharknado continues to be a star on the social nets as the forth movie made it into the Weekly Nielsen Twitter Rating Top 10 for the week at Number 8 and it was also at Number 2 in the Daily Nielsen Twitter Ratings for Sunday. Zoo slipped out of the broadcast network Top 25 based on total viewers for the week.

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

Series Chart Curr Wk Rank Prior Wk Rank
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 8 n/a
Zoo Broadcast Net Top 25 (Total Viewers) n/a 21

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:

Series: (R) indicates a repeat airing

Rating: Overnight rating in the 18-49 demographic for same day viewing based on the final numbers unless otherwise noted

% Chng: The percentage change +/- for this week’s rating vs. last week’s rating (if a new episode aired last week).

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, non-special, non-repeat programming.  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.

Source: ShowBuzzDaily and TV by the Numbers

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