The battle between television’s two favorite fantastical series is upon us. For the first time since FOX’s abrupt scheduling change, Fringe and Supernatural will face-off against each other with new episodes. The question must be asked: who will come out on top?

For the past two weeks, Fringe has been dominating the preternatural series front with consistently solid ratings in their new Friday night time-slot. Of course, for those same two weeks Supernatural has not been on the air – until tonight.

After a long hiatus and CW pushing the eventual return date, Supernatural is finally returning to the air with a monster episode that will drop a proverbial bomb on the series mythology and feature the introduction of a nemesis so grand in scale that I’m not even allowed to talk about it until after it airs tonight. With such an exemplary episode, will it be enough to unseat Fringe? The answer may be more complicated than it seems.

While the definitive ‘Supernatural’ vs. ‘Fringe’ premise most certainly comes into play, there’s going to be much more to this battle than who has more viewers. First off, Fringe is on one of the core television networks. Even when ratings were dropping for the series, it still maintained an average of 4.8 million viewers. Supernatural has never received 4.8 million viewers for any of its episodes, which is unfortunate.

On top of that, the fanbase for Supernatural is not as similar to the fanbase of Fringe as many may think. Fringe is very much an adult male oriented show – yes, I know women watch it as well, but I’m speaking generally. On the other hand, Supernatural has a very large, very dedicated female following – on top of the expected male audience.

For the fans who have to decide whether to watch Supernatural or Fringe, many may chose to watch Supernatural as this is the first returning episode. Additionally, Supernatural doesn’t have the post-air episode availability that Fringe does. After its initial air, the only way to watch the episode would be through The CW website (which most viewers aren’t aware of), while Fringe has FOX’s website and Hulu.

When it comes down to it, the winner won’t be the show that has the most viewers – in that respect, Fringe will always win. What will be interesting to see is how Fringe and Supernatural affect each other’s ratings and demographics. While these two cult series will most likely find a way to succeed despite their concurrent timeslots, it’ll be fun to watch the potential ratings rollercoaster before things finally settle down.

What will I be watching? Supernatural, hands down. Even though I’ve already seen tonight’s episode in advance, there were some special effects that were missing – not to mention the fact that it’s the best episode of the entire season. Plus, I’ll already be tuned into CW because of Smallville. Sorry, Fringe, but I’m not a big fan of Kitchen Nightmares – maybe if it were more similar to the UK series.

Which will you be watching?

Fringe airs Fridays @9pm, on FOX
Supernatural airs Fridays @9pm, on CW