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.

  • dryr

    FS is AWFUL in soo many ways… The only reason to tune in is to learn the alien story arc, but the show story is nearly impossible to sit through as it’s full of every trope/stereotype character that can possibly be implanted in such a story.

  • USAmerica1st

    I will go along with mediocre ratings. Dave Weddle and Bradley Thompson really need to ramp things up a bit more like they did with Deep Space Nine and BattleStar Galactica. So far they’ve come up with an armor piercing bullet. And they finally got not only one, but two romances brewing. But the Churchill pilot was a breath of fresh air, and they sent her on her way.

  • utd

    Does TNT release numbers on how many watch the show (or any of their shows) through their website?

    I’ve dvr’ed and have followed falling skies since the beginning but I find it not that great. Rizzoli & Isles is much better IMO even though i’m a way bigger sci-fi fan.

    Anyways, starting last week I’ve watched both R&I and FS thru the site and plan on doing so and not watching or dvr’ing it.

    Does TNT release the numbers they get thru people who exclusively watch the shows on their site?

  • Metal Mickey

    Falling Skies is like a TV bumblebee which shouldn’t be able to fly, but somehow does… it’s cliched, old-fashioned, mostly incredibly cheap-looking (though I think the effects work is excellent on what is obviously a tight budget) and offers nothing new, but somehow… it works.

    It’s certainly not remotely “cool”, which is why you’ll never see anyone wearing a FS t-shirt, but I think it attracts a silent majority of viewers who just like some straightforward sci-fi without feeling they have to join some kind of cult in the process… the fact the FS is still here, when Terra Nova and Alcatraz have gone to the boneyard, speaks volumes.

  • Amy

    I think the main question Falling Skies fans want to know is what’s good enough for a season 3 renewal for TNT for THIS type of a show.

    Looking at the season 1 averages, I would assume 1.4 in the key demo and around 4 million total viewers would be enough for a season 3? Is that correct, Robert Seidman?

    I heard the budget for season 2 was a lot bigger. And I read the budget for season 1 was smaller in comparison.

    So the budget could be smaller for season 3 if it needs to be.

  • michael

    I completely disagree. I am a huge sports fan. I am also a huge conspiracy theorist as well as a huge sci-fi fan. This belief that people cannot be fanatics about both is absolutely ridiculous. I am a sports major for God sakes. I watched Falling Skies instead of the game.

  • michael

    Thank you Amy!

  • AriesMatt

    I think that with cable shows the numbers reported should be an aggregate of the episode premiere and all encore/repeat viewing, as well. Oftentimes, if my DVR has a conflict due to recording more than two shows within a certain time period, I’ll record the next available encore airing. I seriously doubt there is much duplication of viewers. I just think an aggregate would be a more accurate picture of total viewers for each program.

  • Davis

    @Metal Mikey… You have to realize that networks like TNT, do not have the same bar; when it comes to the amount of viewers and demo. as FOX.

    ‘Terra Nova’ (FOX) had between 5-7 million viewers on their last episodes and has a Nielsen from 2.1-2.6 during that time… Honestly I cannot see that ever happening to ‘Falling Skies’, they can only dream about those numbers.

    BUT… ‘Falling Skies’ isn’t on FOX, it’s on TNT… where a 1.4 to 1.5 score and 4 million viewers might be ok.

    I think this week we will see a 1.5 score and slightly more viewers due to 2 action packed episodes and lots of promos aired (NOT due to no game on TV!)… But given 2-3 episodes, numbers for ‘Falling Skies’ will again fall down to a 1.4 score and stabilize.

    @Amy …I think you might be on to something there

  • Melanie

    I don’t think that FS being still on the air on a basic cable channel can be compared at all to the fate of Alcatraz and Tera Nova on Fox.

    I’m thinking it will drop to a 1.4.

  • Brandon

    There has to be some crossover between Falling Skies and NBA playoffs. When TNT showed NBA games, they showed countless advertisements for Falling Skies. If there was no crossover, then why would they advertise for it so much?

  • The End


    Awful but you still watch it every week? Ironic.

  • Davis

    @Brandon …Again: No one EVER said they are “mutually exclusive”!

    But I find it hard to believe that ‘Falling Skies’ lost 0.5 points in Nielsen, and 1.1 million viewers, due to the game… Which is what this post appear to suggest

    So unless numbers for past Sunday says; 1.9-2.0 Nielsen and +5.5 million viewers, then we can write off the whole theory that premiere numbers were so low; “just because of the game”…

    As said; I wouldn’t be surprised if I see a 1.5 score: due to all the action packed promos that aired this past week. And that premiere episodes has a lot of focus on action… But NOT due to the game

  • Robert

    Pretty much everyone I know, including myself, wants to see sporting events *live*, we don’t want to record, download or whatever and watch it later. We may record it so we can view it for a 2nd time later but first watch needs to be *live*. Regular TV shows like “Falling Skies” can wait until the next day or whenever we have an opportunity to sit and really enjoy it. So “YES”, sporting events do affect the ratings of other shows on TV.

  • Davis

    @Robert; “So “YES”, sporting events do affect the ratings of other shows on TV.”

    …Nobody said otherwise, the big point was however if a Sci-fi show, like ‘Falling Skies'; as they generally do not enjoy a large and broad following. Would see a huge dent in numbers, due to a sporting event. Since there is a huge gap in number of viewers in season 1 finale and season 2 premiere of ‘Falling Skies’…

    Unless ‘Falling Skies’ coughs up a 1.9- 2-0 rating and +5.5 million viewers… then the theory that ‘Falling Skies’ numbers were so horrible in premiere, just because of a sporting event, falls apart…

    Again… As said; I wouldn’t be surprised if I see a 1.5 score: due to all the action packed promos that aired this past week. And that premiere episodes has a lot of focus on action… But NOT due to the game

  • biszanu

    2×03 ratings??????

  • Davis

    ‘Falling Skies’ received a 1.3 score and had 3.8 million viewers this Sunday… Even worse then even I thought

    I guess we can call the theory that it lost viewers due to the game; Debunked! :)

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