We're firmly into the new fall TV season now, but every single week seems to confuse TV execs with news of rollercoaster ratings and imminent cancellations (followed by non-denial denials). We decided to look at how some of our favorite - and less than favorite - shows are performing so far, as well as try to predict which shows (if any) are headed into troubled waters... or headed out.NBC: Overall, NBC is having a terrible year so far - they've lost 15% of their viewership compared with last year, and all of their shows are in decline so far this year. But, ironically, that makes the fairly dramatic decline of Heroes look much better in context. The superhero soap lost just under a million viewers - 12.2% of their total from the week before - this week (and 11.2% of the much-coveted 18-49 demographic). Since the premiere of the season, they've lost 19.7% of viewers and 20% of their 18-49 audience, which is definitely unhealthy... but only outside of the larger context; if you look at all of NBC's numbers, Heroes is still the top-rated drama on the network (and also still one of the top 5 shows of all broadcast networks) - So, while everyone involved is probably nervous about the steep drops - and they probably should be - any "Heroes is in danger of being cancelled" talk is more than a little premature just yet. Slightly more troubled is Chuck, whose second episode lost 11% of viewers, and 15.4% of 18-49 this week... Even though NBC has already given the show a full season order because it "believes" in it, its numbers are low, and the second week drop off was worryingly steep in terms of 18-49. Here's hoping that the numbers even out for next week's episode. Stunningly, Knight Rider's ratings actually increased from first to second week by 3.5% (Its 18-49 share stayed the same) - Thankfully, the following week, viewership dropped and 18-49 dropped 8% as America came to its senses. Well, maybe not entirely - it's still got higher ratings than Chuck, after all - but whether that means that it's a sign that it's the show that America's been waiting for, or just that Wednesday nights are less likely to split the genre audience, is open to question. Either way, the show has just received an order for additional scripts, which suggests that it's going to stick around for awhile.
Fox: Charlie Jane's favorite TV show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles increased overall viewers by 1.4% and viewers in the 18-49 bracket by an amazing 15% this week. Is this because Charlie told viewers to "Fuck Chuck"? We may never know. Overall, the picture is less rosy for the show - it's dropped 11.6% in viewers, but only 4.2% of the 18-49 demo, since its season premiere. This is both good and bad news, as a 4/2% drop is a nice small drop... but the show's 18-49 demo was pretty low to begin with, and right now, there's no way of knowing whether this week's spike will stick around (Looking at the show's 18-49 demo pre-spike, the show had lost 16.7%). To put it in some perspective, even Chuck beat these improved numbers. Next week will be interesting - will the show keep its viewers after the much hyped "special episode," or was this just a looky-loo jump because everyone expects it to be cancelled? (Something in the show's favor are the DVR figures. So far, we've only seen results for the first weeks of September - before premieres of Heroes, Chuck, and most other shows - but T:SCC gains an additional 30% on average in terms of viewers each week because of TiVo, judging by the first two weeks of data on the show. It's not a massive jump overall, but certainly enough to make executives think twice about cancellation.) We had no Fringe this week - Damn those Presidential debates! - but based on last week, the show had grown audience week-on- week by 4.03% and 18-49 by 2.4%. Since the (admittedly, underwhelming in terms of audience size) premiere, the series has gained 10.9% in viewers and and overwhelmingly good 32.3% of the 18-49 demographic - Thank House and good buzz all you want, but there's no denying that Fringe is a hit (You can also thank TiVo; Fringe is one of the top 3 time-shifted shows, gaining an additional 25% on average based on the first two weeks of data). The CW: I know, I know; you're all excited about how Smallville is doing. Unsurprisingly, after seven seasons, it's holding very, very steady: This week, it added 3.3% to its total viewership and had exactly the same 18-49 demographic as it had the previous week. Overall since it's premiere, the show has only lost 6.9% total viewership (but 11.2% in 18-49; obviously they all bailed when they realized that Michael Rosenbaum is no longer on the show).
ABC: Almost a non-network when it comes to SF until Lost returns - or I win my secret campaign to get Pushing Daisies classified as SF in some strange, twisted way - this week's premiere of Life of Mars won its timeslot with an audience of 11.6 million viewers - larger than Heroes or Fringe. We'll see how it holds up in future weeks. CBS: Again, too early to tell for the staying power of Thursday's Eleventh Hour, but it also had a great premiere: 11.59 million viewers, literally just behind Life on Mars. Someone should move Chuck to that time slot and see how it does...