Update: Fringe only averaged 9.003 million viewers from 8-9:30 (these #s will change in the finals since it ran until 9:35p) though it had a 3.2 rating among 18-49 year olds (good, not great). The best half hour for Fringe was 9-9:30 when it did 9.176 million, 3.3/9 among 18-49 year olds and a 2.6/8 among 18-34 year olds. Worse news for 90210: the slippage did hold up, dropping 30% among 18-34 year olds to a 2.1 rating and 35% among 18-49 year olds to a 1.7 rating. CW will still put a smile on it because it still was the night's #1 program among 18-34 year old women, even if it did drop down to 3.314 million viewers.
Here's the early ratings report for Fringe and 90210. Please keep in mind that these metered market numbers are never very accurate, but serve merely as the earliest look possible. We'll have the fast affiliate overnight data soon hopefully, which is more accurate and also comes with viewer totals and 18-49/18-34 demographic data.
My brief word on Fringe is this: how could I possibly say anything bad about a science fiction show that pays homage to SpongeBob? No major spoilers here but the scene was more or less the mad scientist who'd been locked in asylum for 17 years sees SpongeBob and says something like, "This show is for children? It's so profound!" I enjoyed Fringe and I enjoyed the limited commercial interruptions ("remote free viewing") and found it very effective. I think for a one hour show it was about perfect. However the pilot for Fringe ran 1 hour and 35 minutes and somewhere in there I could've probably actually done with a 2 minute commercial break. But the 60 and 90 second interruptions did not seem maddening at all.
In the early metered market numbers, Fringe pulled a respectable 6.4/10, (household rating/share) but that's less than I thought it would do. It's not possible to derive viewers from the household rating but a 6.4 household rating would be about 7.3 million homes and probably wind up in the neighborhood of 9 million viewers. I expected it to definitely clear 10 million viewers, so we'll see what happens as we get better data.
If the early numbers hold, 90210 experienced significant drop-offs from its premiere last week. It would appear that the commenters who claimed people who watched the original would check out the new series and fade away may be doing some chest thumping today. 90210 had a 2.8/7 (household rating/share) in the overnights, which Berman is declaring is some huge drop off from last week where he claims it had a 3.9/6. I think Marc makes a mistake in reacting to the metered market numbers, but based on this he concludes it dropped 28 percent from the 8pm-9pm portion of the premiere, which is extremely disappointing.
In last week's actual fast affiliate report 90210 had a 3.5/5 but in the final numbers it had a 3.2/5 (you can see the numbers change a bit, in this case, down, but sometimes the changes are up, there's no way to predict).
If it winds up being 28% down from the 3.2/5, that would indeed be disappointing, but it will also depend how it did among 18-49 year olds, women, and specifically according to the CW 18-34 year old women. Some drop-off would be no surprise, but 28% would be alarming. However if the drop off mostly occurred with women 35 and over, CW will find a way to be happy. But if there is a 28% decrease among 18-34 year old women, there will be cause for concern. We'll see when the press releases come out.
When we see the updated numbers, I'll update this post and Bill will have the full night's report for the broadcast networks up shortly after.