These continue to be brutal times for our television heroes — Last night's episodes of Heroes and Chuck both lost a million viewers from the previous week's installments. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles saw a slight uptick, from 5.3 million viewers to 5.6 million, but still came in fourth for its timeslot. What's the good news? Last Friday, Sanctuary and Star Wars: Clone Wars both bowed to impressive ratings — for cable TV, anyway. Clone Wars ranked as the most-watched premiere in the Cartoon Network's history — which seems like a paltry achievement for the Star Wars franchise, until you realize quite how low expectations have been. The show garnered an impressive 3.9 million viewers, and came first in a whole bunch of demographics that only have one digit each. (Including "persons 2+".) It also scored among tweens and teens. Nobody over 18 watched it, judging from the Cartoon Network's press release. Maybe they were all watching Sanctuary? That show launched with 2.7 million viewers, better than the 1.8 million to 2 million that usually watch Stargate Atlantis on Friday nights, and the 2.1 million that were tuning in to Battlestar Galactica last spring. This was the highest rated series premiere since Eureka in 2006. In any case, I'm pretty sure Sanctuary was number one among adults aged 150-160. Of course, how many people will actually come back for more installments of Clone Wars and Sanctuary? Off the top of my head, I bet Clone Wars will hold pretty steady — what else do six year olds have to do on a Friday night? — but Sanctuary will probably drop to Atlantis-esque numbers, or worse, pretty quickly. The bigger moral, of course, is that Clone Wars and Sanctuary are hits with numbers that would get them canceled on a major network. So maybe the lesson is that cult science fiction shows belong on basic cable?
I'll say it again our house enjoyed sanctuary and will keep watching. It was fun! I'd take it over Chuck.
On the ratings front, I'm not sure but I'd wager that sci-fi doesn't spend near the same amount on promo as the big networks. Less promotion may equal fewer viewers as well.