Cancellation Watch: Westworld Has a Solid Start, The Exorcist Could Be this Season’s First Casualty, Plus the Ratings Roundup

By | October 4, 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.

westworld_promoSeries Premiere: On Sunday, HBO’s much anticipated Westworld had its debut and pulled a 0.77 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic and right at two million total viewers.  The total viewership actually increased to 3.3 million when multiple airings and HBO Go / HBO Now was factored in, and those are numbers that the pay channels count.  So that puts the show about in line with HBO’s True Detective, though definitely lower than where Game of Thrones debuted.  That latter show saw its ratings trend up through its first season, though, and that’s possible with Westworld as well.  But still, this has to be counted as a solid start for the show and I would not be surprised to hear a renewal announcement on this one in the next few weeks.

Friday Night Battle: Fridays looked brutal going into this season with new entries MacGyvyer and The Exorcist (both reboots / revivals) scheduled on that night with the apparent hope that their name recognition value would draw an audience to that typically low viewership night (NBC will be doing the same thing with its Wizard of Oz re-imagining Emerald City at mid-season).  And so far, that appears to have worked for CBS series MacGyver.  That one bowed well with a 1.7 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic, good numbers even for a non-Friday show these days.  It dropped to a 1.3 score this last week, but was in line with the other shows on CBS for the night and it looks to be okay for now.  FOX’s The Exorcist has not been so lucky.  It debuted with a mediocre 1.0 rating and then dropped all the way to a 0.6 score with its second episode.  That has it at almost certain cancellation levels at this point and FOX needs to do something to save this freshman entry.  The Exorcist has been getting good nods from the critics thus far (I’ve seen the first episode and it is actually pretty good), so this one definitely shows promise.  But it is languishing in the Friday 9 PM EST hour.  FOX should consider rescheduling the show, though that is something the networks almost always refuse to do these days.  Scream Queens already appears to be on lifeline and its two season run will almost certainly get tacked on to the American Horror Story syndication package (same creative team and studio), so perhaps The Exorcist could swap timeslots with that one.  Or Gotham is in the syndication stretch and Warner Bros will likely cut the license fee on that one to assure it gets a fourth season, so how about pairing The Exorcist with Lucifer on Mondays?  Of course, this may be another one of those shows that just does not fit well on the Prime Time schedule like NBC’s Constantine, so perhaps FOX considers shifting it to their sister cable net FX?  If they don’t do something soon, though, this one is surely headed to cancellation.  I have raised it to a Moderate Cancellation alert at this point and that will jump up higher next week if I don’t see any positive signs.  And at this point, The Exorcist unfortunately looks like the top candidate to be this season’s first genre casualty.

Ratings Results: On Saturday, Star Wars Rebels slipped to a 0.14 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo with 410k total viewers. That show’s survival is tied as much to its merchandising as its ratings and I would expect it to get at least one more season to get it over the 65 episode mark preferred for a syndication run of an animated series.  On Sunday, Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead returned for its second season and pulled a 0.21 rating with 440k total viewers.  That is better than its Season 1 high point and has to be considered a good start for its second year, especially considering the stiff competition on the night.  Over on FX, The Strain slipped to a 0.35 rating with 800k total viewers.  That show has been renewed for a fourth and final season.  AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead wrapped up its second season with a 1.4 rating and 3.3 million total viewers and topped the night among cable shows as we officially put the Summer season to rest now.  That one was also Number 1 in the Nielsen Social Net Ratings Top 5 for the night and will be returning next Summer for its third season.  Over on the broadcast nets, Once Upon A Time slipped to a 1.1 rating with 3.7 million total viewers.  But it remained ABC’s top rated show for the night and was at Number 2 in the Nielsen Social Net Ratings Top 5.  FOX’s Son of Zorn improved to 1.6 rating with 3.6 million total viewers, but most of that network’s shows were boosted by the NFL lead-in.  The Last Man on Earth could not benefit much from that as it only had a 1.0 rating with 2.5 million total viewers.  That’s a slight improvement from last week, but still has it in bubble territory.  And for those interested, Syfy’s Saturday cheese-fest The Crooked Man had a 0.23 ratings with 770k total viewers which are decent numbers for that network.  You can see my rundown of the Thursday and Friday ratings at this link and the Monday through Wednesday ratings at this link.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday September 26th thru Sunday October 2nd (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 Benchmark Cancel Alert
Gotham FOX, Mon 8 PM 1.2 -7.7% 3.5 1.3 1.2 Low
Lucifer FOX, Mon 9 PM Preempted n/a n/a 1.3 1.2 Low
Scream Queens FOX, Tue 9 PM 0.7 -30.0% 1.7 0.9 1.2 Moderate
Agents of SHIELD ABC, Tue 10 PM 0.9 -18.2% 2.5 1.0 1.4 Low
Aftermath Syfy, Tue 10 PM 0.2 n/a 0.6 0.2 0.2 Low
American Horror Story FX, Wed 10 PM 1.7 -5.6% 3.1 2.1 0.6 Low
The Good Place NBC, Thu 8:30 PM 1.3 -7.1% 4.5 1.6 2.0 Low
MacGyver CBS, Fri 8 PM 1.3 -23.5% 9.1 1.5 1.8 Low
The Exorcist FOX, Fri 9 PM 0.6 -40.0% 2.0 0.8 1.2 Moderate
Z Nation Syfy, Fri 9 PM 0.3 -19.4% 0.9 0.3 0.2 Low
Van Helsing Syfy, Fri 10 PM 0.2 -22.7% 0.7 0.2 0.2 Low
Star Wars Rebels DXD, Sat 8:30 PM 0.1 -12.5% 0.4 0.2 0.1 Low
Once Upon A Time ABC, Sun 8 PM 1.1 -15.4% 3.7 1.2 1.4 Low
Ash vs Evil Dead Starz, Sun 8 PM 0.2 n/a 0.4 0.2 0.2 Low
Son of Zorn FOX, Sun 8:30 PM 1.6 +45.5% 3.6 1.7 1.2 Low
Fear the Walking Dead AMC, Sun 9 PM 1.4 -3.4% 3.3 1.9 n/a Renewed
Westworld HBO, Sun 9 PM 0.8 n/a 2.0 0.0 0.6 Low
The Last Man on Earth FOX, Sun 9:30 PM 1.0 +11.1% 2.5 1.0 1.2 Moderate
The Strain FX, Sun 10 PM 0.4 -12.5% 0.8 0.4 0.6 Renewed

Chart Activity: FX’s American Horror Story held steady at Number 6 in the Weekly Nielsen Social Net Rating Top 10 (Facebook trending has now been added).  Both American Horror Story and Fear the Walking Dead slipped in the cable Top 25 charts for the week, but that was largely due to the Presidential Debates and football. MacGyver slipped to Number 21 in the broadcast net Top 25 based on total viewers (down from Number 13), but that is still a pretty good ranking for a Friday show.

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

Series Chart Curr Wk Rank Prior Wk Rank
American Horror Story Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 6 6
American Horror Story Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 7 2
American Horror Story Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) 20 7
Fear the Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 8 3
Fear the Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) 12 5
MacGyver Broadcast Net Top 25 (Total Viewers) 21 13

Be sure keep an eye out for the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week at the  Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site and Facebook Page. You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page and also the latest Cancellation Watch Hit List 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 Bench (Network Benchmark):  For the broadcast networks, this is the net’s season to date average rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic for non-sports, non-special, non-repeat broadcasts.  For the cable channels, this is the lowest level at which a show is typically renewed by that network if there are enough genre entries on that channel to provide a decent sample.

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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