In our typical data stream we don't usually see the adult 18-34 ratings for Friday nights -- we usually see them only for Sunday-Thursday. But I saw last night's 18-34 numbers and while Fringe was third in adults 18-49, it was tops for the hour in adults 18-34 among the English language broadcast networks with a 1.2 rating (Univision was #1 for the hour with a 1.4 rating).
That 1.2 might not seem like much, but it was 20% greater than its closest competition (several networks had a 1.0 adults 18-34 rating). Indeed among the English language broadcasters, it trailed only its Fox sibling Kitchen Nightmares (1.4 rating) for the entire night. Adults 18-34 are even more scarce than adults 35-49, and the harder it is for advertisers to reach a demographic, the more valued that demographic is by advertisers.
Make no mistake, those aren't monster numbers. By comparison, last Sunday Family Guy had a 3.8 rating with adults 18-34 and on Tuesday Glee had a 4.5 adults 18-34 rating. At the small levels we're talking it really isn't anything for a Fringe fan to get excited about, especially since Fox knows that it actually can (and does) do better with cheaper unscripted programming.
We occasionally see blathering about how advertisers pay more for scripted programming. However, we've never seen any analysis that suggests that those premiums would offset even the ratings difference between an unscripted 1.7 adults 18-49 rating and a scripted 1.5 rating. And at those levels, you can be sure there is absolutely no chance any premiums offset the much higher production costs for scripted programming.
But it's at least a feather in Fringe's cap and at this point it needs all the feathers it can get.