NBC’s Spin on Stargate Universe Ratings Falls Short

Published 5 years ago by , Updated May 13th, 2013 at 7:37 am,

Stargate Atlantis Cast Photo NBCs Spin on Stargate Universe Ratings Falls Short

All we ever hear from NBC when it pitches Stargate Universe is how it beat Stargate Atlantis in some fashion.  They keep trying to equate Stargate Universe ratings to something spectacular.  Sure, the way they spin it, the numbers are great.  But let’s take a closer look at a few items from both shows.

When Stargate Universe (SGU) premiered on October 2nd of 2009, Syfy announced its excitement about the viewer numbers. The 2-part SGU premiere produced 2.3 million viewers, which for Syfy on a Friday night, were decent numbers.

The show averaged almost 2.9 million viewers through October and  Syfy noted with a press release that 2.9 million viewers was better than the last season of Stargate Atlantis.  Or 36% more viewers.

The First 8 Episodes of SGU

More recently, (January 2010) Syfy was getting even more excited about SGU’s ratings because when they add in the Live+7 DVR ratings, the first 8 episodes of SGU averaged of 2.64 million viewers.

They go on to compare these numbers to the 5th and final season of Stargate Atlantis, purporting that it’s a 26% increase in viewers. They just keep comparing SGU’s online and live numbers to Stargate Atlantis 5th season. WHY?

Wait, it gets better.  Do you think I’d be going on and on if it didn’t?

The First 10 Episodes of SGU

stargate universe july poster 00 NBCs Spin on Stargate Universe Ratings Falls Short

From one of NBC’s latest press releases, “the winter season of Stargate Universe became the most watched Stargate franchise series since 2005 (Stargate Atlantis season 1).”  As if there are a lot of Stargate shows to choose from!

Including Live + 7 DVR viewing data, Stargate Universe’s first year averaged 2.57 million total viewers.  Notice the average dropped from the first 8 episodes?

They go on to compare to SGA, again:  Compared to the 2008-09 Stargate Atlantis season 5, SGU had 22% more total viewers.  This number, is again, down from the first 8 episode stats. They’ve also referenced the first 10 episodes in their press release as “Stargate Universe’s first year.”

I’m getting suspicious.  So now they outright call a half-season of 10 episodes a full season, and declare that it will return for a 2nd season in 2010.

Now that we’re done extolling the virtues of Stargate Universe, comparing it to everything dating back to 2005, I think I want to pitch just one more Stargate Atlantis fact.  One that I dug up on my own, without any help from NBC / Syfy.

The Stargate Atlantis 2004 Numbers

So why doesn’t NBC compare SGU to the 2004 numbers of Stargate Atlantis?

When Stargate Atlantis premiered in 2004, it drew in 4.2 million viewers.  If I were to quote percentages like Syfy likes to do, SGU’s premiere only drew in 56% of the audience that SGA had.  (Did they have DVR numbers in 2004?  Oh… no?). The 4.2 million viewers was the biggest ratings for any of their series’, up to that point.

So What Am I Seeing?

What I’m seeing is how NBC totally torqued the premise of Stargate into a dark mimic of Battlestar Galactica.  They think they’re doing great and they keep telling us just how awesome it is… compared to the last few years of SGA.

Though they went “BSG dark“, their numbers didn’t compare to the BSG mini-series that brought in approximately 3.7 million viewers.  But then they didn’t learn their lesson as the ratings declined consistently from there.  After the mini-series, the Battlestar Galactica series premiere pulled in a Nielsen number of a 2.6, or just under 3 million viewers and on a fairly consistent level, numbers declined from there.  Much like most shows do actually.

So, don’t be fooled by the SGU spin that NBC is pitching at us about how awesome it is performing and what it’s beating.  Sure, it’s doing OK.  But it’s not hitting it out of the park. As I like to think of it:  Most little league parents go totally berserk when their little one nails one… out of the batter’s box.  So too is NBC with their SGU press releases.

Can SGU Be Fixed?

NBC needs to reevaluate their approach to Stargate Universe.  It can be saved, but it needs some serious duct tape to do it.  They’ve set a tone that has caused irreparable harm with the core Stargate audience.  They now need to kiss our a** and make some changes.  That, is what will get their numbers up.

I don’t mind it as it is, but with the depression that is Caprica premiering on January 22nd, Stargate Universe will no longer stand out as the only dark tragedy on Syfy. Maybe now that Comcast has bought into NBC, maybe they’ll step up.

Call me, NBC. I’d be willing to work with you and help make a few changes.  Let’s get Teal’c and Ronon on the Destiny.  That should straighten out Dr. Rush!  Let’s get Lt. Colonel John Sheppard in the mix.  For real, with no stones.  Make something up and get them on the ship!  I know you can do it.

ScreenRant readers, sound off for us.  What do you think they need to add to the show to crank it back up to the Stargate it used to be?  Be creative and be productive.  We already know its shortcomings.  Come up with some constructive changes!  Let NBC know what you’re thinking!

Sources:  Sci Fi Wire, NBC Press Release, Variety, Gateworld, TV By the Numbers, io9

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  1. I agree with you JohnS. SGA fans asked for more and got kicked in the teeth for it. I don't want reality tv or soap operas in my scifi. If I want that, I'll go watch NBC, CBS, FOX or A&E (which I used to love).

    I am only reading scifi now. There is nothing to watch on television.

    However, with dread I'm waiting to 'the schmucks that be' to start a scifi show for Avatar… You know they will.

  2. As an aside I'd like to say that if the stones are quantum linked no distance will break the connection. I'm surprised no one has suggested crossing that technology to the Asgard beaming technology. I guess in science terms it would be like trying to broadcast an HDTV signal on CH-19 of a citizen's band radio.

    As for “SGU” getting uppity being the only Science Fiction on Friday night well I'm thinking “Smallville” might be the ideal change-up. 😛

  3. I don't watch the show but I do like the facts. Like the fact that SGU is SyFy's least watched show with females of any age – at least of the 4 scripted shows that made it into the statistics (BSG, W13, Eureka and SGU). Fact is that Justice dropped below SGA S5's lowest rated ep. Fact is that in Canada and Australia, the ratings dropped 45+ % within 10 eps. Fact is that SGU's median age is 45, SGA's was 46 – yes, that's “younger” for you. When you dig deeper than their PR releases, you have to call bull pretty fast. It'll be interesting to see how the show does in the 2nd half of S1.

  4. WOW! You might have a slight issue with English but you made yourself completely clear and I applaud you! Very well said!! Say it again, Chuck! :)


  5. SGU cannot be fixed for traditional Stargate fans. I'm fine with people liking it. I just don't and won't. I loved SGA, so the “fix” for me would be to bring that show back and cancel SGU. Since that's not going to happen, give me some great SGA movies.

    I don't just dislike SGU, I dislike how the fans of the other 2 shows (SGA/SG1) have been treated for not loving SGU. We've been called all kinds of names, even by some of the producers. I don't think that they respect the fans that built their franchise. I tried to like SGU, but I can't now, even if it does get better. There's just too much baggage that comes along with SGU for me. SGA had some problems during its last couple of years, but that was because of the writing and not the actors. The actors and the characters they played were the heart of that show. I loved the team dynamic that they had.

    My favorite character is Teyla. She was great! And I love John too. I also like McKay and Beckett.


    Thanks for writing this article. What you wrote needed to be said. The spin that Syfy/NBC has been pushing out is so obvious, most everyone I know doesn't believe it. I don't think they're fooling anyone. It's good to know that they are not fooling you. I also like the Season 1 picture of Atlantis. Great job!

    PS – what's going on with this new comment format?

  6. They say big people make big mistakes, and this is what happened to the Stargate franchise.

    Everywhere we look, from forums, video sites to Amazon reviews, SGU received massive outcry, even affiliated fan sites are finding it hard to contain all the negative responses.

    While the producers of SGU publicly stated they do not care about the old fans, going as far as calling old fans “morons” and “idiots”, what they were afraid to admit was they needed the old fan base as a crutch just incase people find out how much they sucked. After all, why use the Stargate brand if they did not need the fan base at all?

    What really happened was the producers of SGU have lost the touch, the world changed so much, they look at other shows and wonder why they were not making as much money as well, so they thought it was time to change something, fix something that was not broken.

    They did not have the balls to create something entirely new, so they used the Stargate brand as a blanket, looked at Survivors, American idols, Lost, Greys anatomy, Cloverfield etc, took what they thought was making them popular and combined them base on BSG, a framework they were comfortable working with.

    The result was a gigantic fail, what they ended up with is exactly what you get when you take everything out of your fridge, blend them into a paste, cook it in microwave then put it in an used Coca Cola cup from McDonalds and call it the new Coke.

    Now normally when someone create a pile of crap, people simply ignore it and move on, but what the producers of SGU did, was on top of producing a pile of crap, they also betrayed an established fan base, destroyed an established franchise, and spent more money per episode doing so.

    The producers are too insecure to admit it, but anyone with basic business skills knows it was simply a bad business decision. There is simply no excuse.

    And it's too late to turn back, the cat is out of the bag and not even Mallozzi & Wright's massive ego can contain this mess.

    Goodbye Stargate.

  7. Well, I think we can all send a clear message by not tuning in to see the last episodes of this season. Maybe they will get the hint if numbers keep falling.

  8. SGU Sucks. That's a really witty and mature screen name. I might change mine to Heroes/Lost/BSG/Dollhouse Sucks.

  9. Teyla? Really? Seriously?

  10. I think enough enough people will be tuning in to keep the show going. I mean come on, SG1 limped on for years after people stopped watching.

  11. I was actually wondering when the obnoxious, ill-mannered person was going to show up because they always do. And here you are.

    So other than being insulting toward the commentors' personal choices of user names and favorite characters do you have anything to add to the actual discussion regarding SGU which is supposed to be the focal point of this entire discussion or did you just come here to act like an immature playground bully… DrSamBeckett… really? SamBeckett? Seriously? Oh right, you're one of the few left still watching this drivel. :)


  12. Oh you turned my own comment back on me, I see what you did there!

  13. Mckay turns up in one of the episodes near the end of the first season of SGU. The engines on Destiny start to fail, and the synopses says they call in a brilliant but ill tempered scientist from earth to help fix it. Gotta be Mckay

  14. GANG: LAYOFF of EACH OTHER and focus on the content.

    DrSamBeckett: Yep, there are a few more past SG character guest appearances coming up in SGU.

  15. We had the wraith in Atlantis…. They should of focused on what works instead of trying to recreate the wheel and then crying when a lot of their already established fans didn't like it or refused to watch it…

  16. I get what your saying but currently SGU feels like Battlestar Galactica without Cylons.

    In terms of alien enemies all we have gotten is Mysterious Sand figures? and Tiny Water Beetles? Im a huge fan of destruction, id be happy to just see some Aliens hunting them down

  17. i thought their antics were wicked, similar to the original stargate cast. SGU has some very good drama going on but lacks in the sci-fi action department.

    Bring on the inter-galactic aliens

  18. Hahaha… “real” stargate fans… /sigh

    If they dump it now, I had a good 10 shows I enjoyed. To me, the rest of Stargate, save the movie, can disappear down a drain and I won't have missed it much.

  19. “I would like it to get a better audience, so that SGU will be on air long enough to fix it self… Don't think the rest of the season would be enough to do that fully…”

    Huh? How is it going to “fix itself”? The writers have to do that, and they obviously are not up to the task. Besides that, the entire season is already “in the can” and cannot be changed. Its more than just a few bad episodes and bad lighting. The entire core of the show is wrong for Stargate. Its not on the same level as BSG and is not drawing in fans from there.

    “And as so many people have said, though the communication stones may present a good device for on earth story telling, they do sound to me a little too convenient…”

    THAT is part of the problem…”on earth storytelling”. There should be very little of that, and it should be related to science and solving the problems aboard the Destiny, not lesbian love scenes and cheating wives. LOL. I would become a huge fan of SGU if a highly shrouded episode came out which had another Ancient ship destroying the Destiny with all crew and ESPECIALLY the communications stones aboard, then went and found Rush and sent him back to earth, then went about the business of fighting battles with cool aliens in those other galaxies. Rubber faced English speaking aliens? Bring em on.

  20. LOL. Then that drain would be going for 15 years. This “star tragedy” going around calling itself Stargate will be lucky to run as long as the ill-fated ST-Enterprise mistake, and will have been less entertaining. But much like the people who choose to spin the numbers on this show and have little interest in real science fiction entertainment and more interest in advertising and retail sales revenue, SGU “fans” can rarely articulate exactly why they allegedly “love” this show. Your statement is no different.

  21. Well then, since you can't be bothered to read my earlier comment on why I love the show, I'll reiterate and clarify:

    1. Characters – Love them and love to hate them, they have the right mix for my tastes. These are people, not comic book cut outs.

    2. Situations – The castaways are in a FUBAR situation, they all know it, and it creates tension that drives the show.

    3. Nobody is Perfect – Every character in here has flaws, very similar to the movie. Even the guy you're supposed to hold up as Mr. Big Hero (Scott) is not a saint.

    4. Good Storytelling – Many times events have been played out that evoke tension, drama, and excitement, all for different reasons.

    5. No Worf- err Tyr- oops, I meant “Ronin”

  22. You are entitled to your opinion, and it doesnt bother me in the least that SGU has a few fans…VERY few. Praise the show as you may, but the reality is that it has become less and less popular from episode 1 to episode 10. The point of the review was to expose the ridiculous spin on the ratings numbers…and for what purpose? LOL.

    1) About the characters…they seem even more “soap opera” than “comic book cutout”. These people may seem “real” to you, but in the Stargate canon they would never be on Icarus Base to begin with. They dont have the proper background or training (according to Stargate rules). And if they were going to throw that to the wind they should never have started the show from Icarus Base along with Sam Carter, Daniel and O'Neill. No, what clear is that Rush is to becom SGU's “Baltzar” or “Mr Smith” from Lost In Space…a cliche.

    2) The situation is only FUBAR because the writers made it that way to contrive “tension” and “edginess”. The tension is not driving this show, in fact, NOTHING is driving this show which is why fewer and fewer people are watching it. You cant ignore that fact. If this so-called “tension” is so great, why arent BSG or Stargate fans flocking to it and making the ratings climb?

    3) The characters in SG-1 and SGA were flawless? And Scott is not exactly “Big Hero” material. He is not an Alpha Male type and is not seen as particularly macho or heroic. Looks more like Col Young is filling that slot, but his personal flaws and those of the others make them unlikeable and unrelatable. SGU doesnt just say these people have a few flaws, it is saying that they ONLY have flaws. Again, does this look like its drawing in fans? I think not.

    4) Good storytelling? LOL. That would be fine if the storytelling were science fiction like its supposed to be. But instead its cheesy dime store drama fit only for daytime television, and not very good drama at that.


    None of the claims that the new BSG drama style or the shaky cameras or wonderfully “flawed” characters is meeting with success can be substantiated with numbers or positive reviews on the internet or beyond. So, why are the SGU fans in denial? Better to acknowledge the fact that despite your love for this show, it is unpopular and becoming less so as more episodes are aired. Rubber faced English speaking aliens seems like a good move right about now.

  23. I never said it was winning, I just said I liked it. I'm used to crap I like getting kicked out the door. meh. Next.

  24. Your dumb. If you watched the entire Stargate Series you would have noticed that there have been at least 4 stories in regards to the communication stones. The only difference is that they use their own power supply rather than the ancients one

  25. Stop comparing apples to oranges in the viewing numbers. While tptb might like to think the fans are all stupid, that's just in the little fantasy world they live in. We can actually tie our own shoes and everything.

    As for plots, you're not referring to the plot to kill off Carson in Season 3 and Elizabeth in Season 4, are you? Or maybe that was just a happy coincidence! I wonder why the ratings might have taken a dip?? <read heavy sarcasm here>

  26. What we're trying to tell you is that it really is our choice no matter what you or anyone else says or what names you call us. People get to choose what they like and what they don't (it's called thinking for oneself). Most people like to exercise that choice as often as possible. Most people also have a life outside of television, you should try it sometime.

  27. I did watch all 10 episodes of season 1, I hated every one, to dark and depressing, lacks the fun and adventure that the franchise in known for, I feel I gave it a fair shot, and will not return.

    A train wreck can not be saved, but scraped! Bring SG1 or Atlantis back, or make a new series made after there image! Later Bruce

  28. Actually I think this show would work if they just had more than one story to tell. So far it's been almost the same each week. There's a shortage of something. They go on a gate trip to a planet. Said planet just happens to have what they need. After a few perils they get it and all is back to square one. Big whoop-de-do.

    So first of all figure out some story arcs. Exploring that huge ship is one. Finding a way to get some guest star characters on there is another. And even BSG had a main enemy. I really don't think they can get away without one. A shortage of water, air or food just isn't compelling enough.