Is TNT's 'Falling Skies' The Lebron James of Summer Cable Shows? & Are Genre Shows Really Impervious to Big Sporting Events?

Categories: 2-Featured,Cable TV

Written By

June 24th, 2012

Falling Skies drew 4.461 million viewers and  million and a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating in its two-hour season premiere, down from last year's premiere that drew a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating and 5.9 million viewers. Last year Falling Skies saw a significant drop in its second week, shedding 25% of its series premiere 18-49 rating (0.5). It would only go a tenth lower the remainder of season one.

Unlike last year, Falling Skies had to battle with game 3 of the NBA finals in its season two premiere. Last week the refrain from some commenters was that the NBA finals didn't matter, that genre show ratings are impervious to major sporting events. That's a generalization that assumes that there is effectively no crossover of Falling Skies viewers and fans of the NBA in general, fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat and perhaps especially haters of Lebron James

The Walking Dead was cited as an example of being a sports-proof genre show, but that's a generalization that really only proves that The Walking Dead is immensely popular, and far more popular than Falling Skies (as well as far more popular than all scripted cable shows at this point).

The Walking Dead scored a 3.8 in its season two premiere (against Sunday Night Football and the MLB NLCS) and a 3.5 adults 18-49 rating in its mid-season finale (also against Sunday Night Football). But it scored a 4.7 adults 18-49 rating in its season finale in March when it did not face Sunday Night Football.  Those  numbers scream "haha, we're more popular than every other cable scripted show and pretty much every one-hour drama on the broadcast nets!!" But those numbers do not suggest that The Walking Dead is impervious to big sporting events.

With the NBA finals over the only thing that might end the debate for some is if Falling Skies goes up this week. That's possible, but I think the more likely outcome is that it simply doesn't go down or at least not down 25% from its season premiere.

Falling Skies is TNT's highest-rated show in the demo and was the highest-rated scripted show last week but much like Lebron, the Falling Skies haters will pick it apart regardless.

Below is a poll for season two episode 2 ratings but first, the season one historical ratings.

Falling Skies Season One 18-49 Ratings and Viewership:

Date 18-49 Rtg L+SD Viewers (Millions)
Sunday, June 19, 2011 2.0 5.905
Sunday, June 26, 2011 1.5 4.200
Sunday, July 03, 2011 1.4 4.066
Sunday, July 10, 2011 1.4 3.901
Sunday, July 17, 2011 1.4 4.269
Sunday, July 24, 2011 1.4 4.068
Sunday, July 31, 2011 1.5 4.312
Sunday, August 07, 2011 1.9 5.703
Sunday, August 07, 2011 1.9 5.541

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Note: last year TNT counted the two-hour premiere as only one telecast for Nielsen purposes but counted the two-hour season finale as two telecasts.
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  • Dennis

    It might go down to a 1.4 ..
    I don’t see it doing that much worse (or better) then the premiere.

  • Sherry

    I know I got at least 6 people into Falling Skies recently and they love it. A friend got some others into the show also, so the word has spread that this a great show. I think it will do fine.

  • dack70

    I have a somewhat off-topic question here. Does this site keep track of historical ratings for all shows somewhere? The reason I ask is, it would be nice to compare my favorite shows historical ratings with the current ratings to help better gauge if the ratings are good enough for renewal.

    Love the site!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Dack70: thanks and nope, we don’t.

  • TVGuy

    Oklahoma CITY Thunder, not Oklahoma Thunder.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    yep.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Amanda Kondolojy

    I don’t think it’s that weird to think that sci-fi fans may also be sports fans!

  • Gary Middleton

    Vintage Seidman.

  • Davis

    “but I think the more likely outcome is that it simply doesn’t go down or at least not down 25% from its season premiere.” -Robert S.

    …I agree, I don’t think we will see some giant leap in terms of viewers. Show might, just as you say, retain viewers (at least in the initial part of the season). But I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes down and remain stable around 1.4 later on in the season.

    But as said before… the debate is whether or not these numbers on networks like TNT or NBC are bad enough to cancel a show. And how low they might have to fall, before it would actually “hurt”.

    And how much does it cost the network? …the cast is somewhat large, a lot of CGI, lots of large names behind the script…

    So the question is; what number would make the network sweat?

  • Dillan

    I think it will stay steady with a 1.5

  • One

    I think it ticks down a tenth or two this week. Of course, since that’s the line in this poll, that effectively means I’m not making a call on it. Not like I’ve ever been really good at making said calls though.

    As for the “genre shows are affected by sports”, I buy from the general perspective of the two types both targeting men. And certainly, not having football in the equation probably helped the back half of Walking Dead outrate the front half.

    The real issue w/ Falling Skies will be how people reacted to the premiere episodes, among those who watched. I know I was still feeling underwhelmed overall, even though they were better than a lot of last year. That said, if it follows the same quality curve, I don’t think the ratings will hold up thru the season…

  • Davis

    I also think it is a bit unfair to compare ‘Falling Skies’ to ‘the Walking Dead’…

    Like it or not; we’re in the midst of a MAJOR wave of pop-culture hype for all things zombie right now. A ball that started rolling when ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ made it on to the NYT’s Best Seller’s List. The success of the ‘Walking Dead’ comics, World War Z book, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland… A wave that even made the major companies in Hollywood force Brad Pitt to don the role of Savior of Mankind in ‘World War Z’-the movie.

    So, with the with of the pop-culture zombie hype wave in mind, that ‘the Walking Dead’, did manage to do very well against sports, do not mean that alien invasion show ‘Falling Skies’ will manage to repeat the same pattern.

    …and frankly, ‘Falling Skies’ is no way near as well made as ‘the Walking Dead’ is either. Costume, Effects, Camera, Lightning, Acting, Make Up, Script – Are on a completely different level.

  • AppleStinx

    It looks like “Falling Skies” was on at 10pm last year and is now on at 9pm. Is 9pm a more competitive time slot than 10pm on Sundays?

  • NedTed

    I would have watched the NBA game over Falling Skies but I boycotted the NBA this year

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @AppleStinx: good point, they are launching The Great Escape at 10p. Hard to say whether 9pm is more competitive. based on the comparable night last year (I didn’t want to use last week since it was skewed by NBA) the 8pm hour was at a disadvantage in terms of eyeballs, but 9p and 10p were about the same. last year 32.3% of adults 18-49 were watching TV from 8-9, 37% from 9-10p and 36.9% from 10-11p.

  • EatMorePez

    Even if it gets another 1.5 tonight, that doesn’t mean the exact same people watched it last week and again this week. It’s possible that 0.2 of the people who watched Falling Skies last week could decide on pass on week 2. And at the same time 0.2 people who watched the NBA finals last week could decide to watch Falling Skies this week. Both weeks would have a 1.5 in this scenario, but the NBA affect would not be detectable with the available data. But that won’t stop many people from saying the NBA had no impact on the ratings for Falling Skies.

    For the record, I watch both sports and sci-fi. Why do some people insist that these two things are mutually exclusive? Did you notice that TNT spent a whole lot of promo time on Falling Skies during the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs? Why would they waste that valuable time promoting a sci-fi show during a sporting event, if there was available data suggesting there is little or no cross over between these two audiences?

  • The End

    I predict roughly 4 million for every ep. This show has a loyal Nielsen following. Finale will get about 5 mill. Average for this season 1.4/1.5.

    It won’t do a Continuum which has gone from 900k to 350k in 4eps lol.

  • Davis

    “For the record, I watch both sports and sci-fi. Why do some people insist that these two things are mutually exclusive?”

    …No one said they are “mutually exclusive”; but if you were one of those 4.4 million that rather watched ‘Falling Skies’ instead of the NBA game, then most people (other then you) would most likely identify you as a Sci-Fi fan, rather then a Sports Jock.

  • Rolls Royce

    The Walking Deadis a great show.

  • The End

    Scifi does skew very male in general, so people liking sports isnt too hard to believe.

    Certainly many Scifi shows skew quite old, as in have an audience of males in their mid to late 40s or older on average.

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