As Vic put it here on Screen Rant the other day, the premiere of Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica was fracking awesome and it did not disappoint this viewer either.
Not only did I like it, but according to overall ratings numbers, somewhere in the vicinity of over 2 million other viewers also enjoyed the episode with me.
I’m not sure I want to get into the mystical numbers that Nielsen reports – I tried to make sense of it all, but it seems like Greek metric math meets Gumby. So let me just spell out that which I do understand: 2 million viewers, watching the show as it was telecast are great numbers and got the Sci-Fi Channel some of the best ratings it’s seen in key advertising demographics in the last two years.
For Sci-Fi, this could be deemed a victory: keeping the show alive and well, not disappointing the fracking viewers. On the other hand, 2.1 million viewers doesn’t even come close to comparing with the numbers the big three networks drew in that night.
On the same Friday night that BSG aired, CBS drew in 9.26 million viewers with Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs. Both shows that I like but they ain’t getting in the way of my BSG. No fracking way! (Ok, ok… I’ll stop now.) Numb3rs drew in over 9 million viewers in the 10 pm slot, followed by 20/20, at over 4 million viewers. (Reference 1)
Uh oh, I feel a rant coming on….
Where I will step up to the plate is here: To say that while folks may try to compare BSG and ultimately, the Sci-Fi Channel to the main networks, you might as well be comparing oranges to bananas, or the sky to a mountain.
A specialty channel like Sci-Fi will tend to have fewer viewers. The news show 20/20 had 4 million viewers on the night BSG aired, but if you look at the specialty news channel CNN, it ranked 27th amongst all cable channels that week with 0.8 million viewers. The main networks have the momentum because not everyone has cable, or the upper tier cable channels, or whatever Comcast is charging for additional channels these days. (Reference 2)
Some might say it’s the major networks’ higher quality TV series as the reason they’re beating the cable channels in ratings (yeah, right), but I say it’s those networks’ “wide availability effect” that we’re seeing. For a niche, cable network BSG continues to bring in good ratings for the Sci-Fi Channel.