The Fall season is upon us and currently in the process of ramping up with six shows having their debuts already by Sunday of this week. Currently, there are over forty sci fi and fantasy shows on the Fall schedule (you can see that at this link), and one particular night has a cluster of shows airing at the 9 PM EST hour. That will be Sundays and for some reason the networks have been overloading that night with genre entries for quite a while now. Based on the current schedule, there are five shows that will air in that hour across the broadcast networks and cable channels: The Walking Dead (AMC), Doctor Who (BBC America), God Friended Me (CBS), Charmed (CW), and The Last Ship (TNT). Right now, Fear the Walking Dead is airing in that hour and will wrap up right before TWD‘s Season 9 premiere on October 9th.
That may look like a lot of shows in one hour, but the competition among the genre entries may not be as strong is it first appears. God Friended Me (the latest attempt to modernize the Touched by an Angel format) barely counts as a genre series and probably won’t be drawing too much of the sci fi crowd (or any crowd for that matter). Charmed is a CW show that skews to a younger, female audience and probably does not have a lot of audience crossover with more male-skewing The Walking Dead and The Last Ship. And that latter series is in its final season and tends to skew to older, mostly male viewers.
The most interesting entry to land in the 9 PM EST hour this year is Doctor Who. That show has been airing at 9 PM EST on Saturdays for the past few years, but its network apparently wanted to mix things up. That show may have the broadest appeal, especial with Jodie Whittaker taking over the lead role and possible pulling in more of the female demographic. The show that I believe it will impact the most is The Walking Dead because there is definitely crossover with that audience. But, Doctor Who potentially appeals to the audiences of the other 9 PM EST Sunday genre entries as well. And I believe it will definitely pull in plenty of curious onlookers early to see how Whittaker does in her first year as the Doctor.
The Walking Dead has been on a ratings decline for several years now, and Doctor Who could eat into that further, though I don’t believe by too much. The latter show only averaged a 0.4 rating in live viewing last year, and even though I expect that to improve this year, that’s not a large enough audience to cut into TWD‘s 3.4 ratings average. I do believe that the zombie series will still see declines in viewership, but that will be more of a continuation of prior trends.
Fall 2018 Sci Fi and Fantasy TV Preview: A rundown of over 40 shows debuting or returning over the Fall months Read
The fact is that the sci fi audience in general tends to watch shows on a delay (either DVR or VOD), so the clustering of shows won’t impact viewership too much. But the networks are still looking closely at those live viewing stats (because they are still living in the past), and five genre entries all airing in the same hour is definitely not the best scheduling move. The Last Ship wraps up this season, so it doesn’t have to worry about cancellation. Doctor Who should be okay because it is also bolstered by its viewership over in Britain. And The Walking Dead has at least a few more years before it will wrap up.
The most likely casualty among the Sunday 9 PM EST genre entries is God Friended Me, but I believe the genre competition will only be a small factor in that one’s demise. And The CW uses a different formula to determine the success of its shows which links in the streaming deal it has with Netflix (the current season is available there for streaming shortly after it wraps up its initial run). But if anybody wants to watch all five of these shows, you will need to have an industrial strength DVR or a Roku-type device with plenty of channels to be able to catch every episode every week.
Be sure to stay tuned to this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site throughout the Fall for the latest ratings results and status updates on these and all of the sci fi shows that will be airing.