Nobody really cares about ratings from the viewer side of the fence unless it means their favorite show is about to be dropped into a meat grinder. If you're a fan of Fox's Terminator spin-off, for example, then you're having ground terminator for dinner I'm afraid. Sarah Connor Chronicles debuted to 18 million viewers at the top of this year but was launched on the back of an NFL playoff game. It shed 8 million in the 24 hours between the pilot on January 13th, and its second episode on the 14th.
By the end of February it was down to 7 million, though it did tick upwards for the two-part "season" finale -- don't forget most shows last year were shortened by the strike so we're really talking about the eighth and ninth episodes here -- pulling a respectable but probably disappointing 8.29 million. Even with their legendary lack of patience -- Firefly was gutted after about 12 episodes and Anchorwoman after just one episode had aired -- Fox stepped out of character and renewed the freshman drama. "Samson and Delilah" aired on September 8th and although it held onto second for its time slot, it was only seen by an estimated 6.3 million people -- that's a 23% drop from last year, folks. "Automatic for the People", which aired this past Monday night, lost another 12% down to 5.49 million. I'm telling you right now, if SCC drops another 12%, not only will Fox cancel the series, I don't they'll even air the remaining episodes already in the can.
Fox has larger concerns though, with Terminator and Prison Break airing new episodes against nothing but reality and reruns, they only managed third for the night in overall viewers. The aforementioned Prison Break which I personally think is doing its best work since the first season isn't really pulling its weight either. It lost 10% of its audience from last week, to 5.8 million. When Heroes returns with new third season episodes next week, NBC may have a shot at taking first away from CBS, along with putting a show which managed 8-9 million viewers last season -- even in a troubled state -- against Fox's falling stars.
But that's just Monday, one miserable day of the week we're talking about. Tuesday is just smashing for Fox with House and Fringe. In fact, Fox nearly won the night in overall viewers by double digits over CBS. House staked out in 14.4 million viewers and just a massive chunk of that audience stuck around to watch Fringe, which rose 32% from 9 million last week to just over 13 million this past Monday. The debut I think had to have been disappointing given all the hype over a new J. J. Abrams series, but after Monday it all seems somewhat justified.
The only question anyone will asking for the next five days or so is what did the House groupies think of Fringe and will they stick around a second time. I'm betting that the answer is no, but the falloff may be gradual until it settles back into the 8-9 million range. Regardless, you can rest easy of you're a fan of this series: Fox ordered a full season before the first season even aired.
This landscape is going to change, I guarantee you, starting next week when about a dozen shows return all fighting for the same dwindling pool of viewers. I wonder who will come out on top this year?