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

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.

  • Lucas Melo

    What about True Blood? It’s on Sunday, at the same time-slot of Falling Skies, it’s HBO so not everyone has it, has to face all the sports show, has bigger ratings then Falling Skies and it’s a 5 year-old show! What about it, now what’s the excuse????

  • Davis

    @The End …That Sci-fi shows tend to draw mostly older male viewers is something that I think have steadily eroded, primarily in the last couple of years. I think there is a large and growing number of females that enjoy Sci-fi.

    Largely I think this is due to that Sci-fi genre has grown, and created new subgenres. Also tv-shows have grown in numbers and are more diverse (story wise) from the era when Star Trek WAS Sci-fi on Tv.

  • rob60990

    Its hard to judge which shows will be impacted by sports. usually female skewing shows and genre shows are least affected but there are always some exceptions. Tonights shows ratings will be a true test if basketball and golf had anything to do with Falling Skies decline. If it drops more, I would guess people are tired of the show or losing interest.

  • The End


    I guess I was generalising a bit.

    But Stargate Atlantis and SG1 had a 60/40 sometimes 50/50 sometimes 70/30 split of male and female viewers.

    Stargate Universe ended up with a 90/10 split of male and female viewers.

    Eureka tends to skew more male, as does W13.

  • The End

    Naming these as recent examples but the average age does seem to be mid to late 40s and older with males. Pretty sure V and others had more male viewers which was mostly where my point came from.

  • Silvio

    Falling Skies, True Blood, Glades, Longmire were all down last week. Killing and Girls had (rating wise) disappointing season finales. Those viewers hadn’t disappear in thin air – they watched NBA or golf last Sunday.

    As for Falling Skies my prediction is: 1.8 A18-49 ratings with 5.4 million total viewers.
    I base prediction on: previous Sunday first two episodes had 2 telecasts, and sum was 1.9 A18-49 (1.5 for 9PM to 11PM and 0.4 for 11PM to 1AM). Those 1.9, minus usual drop in second week, plus some people that watched sports last week (and DVRed Falling Skies)are to watch live now = something like 1.8.

    Bar for success: 1.4 to 1.5 is OK (flat with same period last season), 1.6 and more is success. Compared to some other cable hits Falling Skies skews old – but compared to usual TNT staff (Closer, Rizzoli & Isles … ) it’s 18-49 juggernaut.

  • Joe

    The show does well. It’s not a juggernaut show. Whether it’s up or down from last week, I don’t make excuses for any shows. I remember last season the show didn’t go down during July 4th, so anything is possible. Last season it was at a 1.4 or 1.5 most of the season. So that’s where I expect it to stay. It’s not one of those buzz worthy shows like GOT’s that I think will keep growing.

  • Tom

    I don’t believe anyone can accurately determine if FS fans passed on the show to watch basketball. Since it’s easier to DVR FS than a basketball game, it may be worth something to compare last week’s DVR numbers with this week’s. If there’s a significant drop in DVR activity and an increase in live viewing, this may be evidence that basketball had some effect on FS’ premiere episodes. For what it’s worth, I stuck with FS because I got fed up with the seemingly endless basketball season. The same goes for hockey.

  • Daisy salter

    I enjoy FS and hope it hangs in. Characters to care about, post-apoc survival story, great special effects. It should settle in and be on for several years…with good writing & supportive network.

  • The Original J

    I watch a lot of sci-fi and I watch a lot of sports. Not everyone who likes sci-fi is 300 pounds and living in their mom’s basement; in fact, most sci-fi fans don’t even come close to that stereotype. The idea that no crossover exists between sci-fi and sports watchers seems ridiculous to me.

  • One @ EatMorePez

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

    Honestly, I don’t know why this isn’t a more common thread, given that sports and genre programming both target men. Maybe it’s the SF Ghetto

  • AO

    Wouldn’t at least some, and perhaps many, of the lebron haters have skipped the Finals due to his participation?

  • Silvio

    Wouldn’t at least some, and perhaps many, of the lebron haters have skipped the Finals due to his participation?

    No, because they wanted to see him failing. Again. He didn’t. Well, we don’t live in a perfect world.

    For example, Cleveland was the Top Neutral Market For Heat/Thunder Series:
    “The five-game Heat/Thunder NBA Finals averaged a 17.6 rating in the Cleveland market, leading all neutral markets for the series ”

    “Memphis (15.9), New Orleans (14.4), Atlanta (14.2), Chicago (14.1) and San Antonio (14.0) were the other neutral markets in the top ten”

  • Polar Bear

    what about true blood? it’s available in less homes, yet it consistently gets pretty good ratings (2.7-3.0, I think). obviously walking dead is more popular, but because it’s available in more homes can we really say it’s the most popular scripted cable show?

  • Polar Bear

    @Lucas Melo
    I just realized he asked the same exact question.

  • AO

    @ Silvio,

    I certainly agree that some would have wanted that, but I’d guess that other people would not want to watch any game that he’s in. That’s the approach that I’d have taken.

  • The End

    @The Original J

    I agree, I would say most older Scifi fans are likely family men, or men that have had kids who have left the roost so to speak leaving just them and their wife.

    Perhaps the basement thing could be true for a small minority of Scifi fans but in general I think the genre gets stereotyped just a bit.

  • David

    Lebron is like Floyd because people watch to see them lose and in Floyd’s case, they pay to see him lose, which makes him more money.

    Falling Skies should be ok because I know that I did not watch it because of the game. If it does a 1.5 or higher next week it will be were it was last year and with a new show that is a huge success because they usually drop. Also, True Blood and The Walking Dead are anomalies so the comparisons do not match too well and True Blood is probably watched mostly by females because it is essentially an adult soap.

  • One @ AO

    Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if some haters actually watched just to boo LeBron. There are people out there like that, and you probably know at least one…

  • The End

    As seen, this show has direction now.

    See tonights episode depending on your timezone and you’l realise that Falling Skies is developing into a decent Science fiction series and is developing a purpose/case for its existance on TV.

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