Fringe may be down, but it's not out. Fox's science fiction staple secured 4.1 million viewers last Friday night, posting a 10% gain over the previous week. Combined with reality show Kitchen Nightmares, Fox scored its best Friday in weeks, tying the usual favorite CBS for overall viewership.
It's been a rocky road for Fringe ever since Fox moved it to Friday night in early January. Defying the stigma surrounding the myriad of Fox shows that have sputtered and died after the same move, the show posted solid number for the first two weeks. The following two weren't as kind, dropping to a mere 1.4 million viewers in the crucial 18-49 demographic.
This week saw that value jump to 1.5 million (a 7% gain for 18-49 year-olds), a number that may be attributable to Fringe star Joshua Jackson's impassioned plea for fans to watch the show live. Jackson's request made its way through the internet all week, and his rallying banner may have helped stop the shed of viewers - for now.
At least one network executive seems to be backing Fringe. Fox president Kevin Reilly revealed his own excitement for the series a few weeks ago (despite the move to the "Friday night death slot") in a press event. Unfortunately, he didn't have good news for other struggling shows like Lie to Me and Human Target.
In other ratings news, The CW's one-two teenage sci-fi punch of Smallville and Supernatural continues to lose viewers. Both scored around 2 million viewers each, and only 900,000 each in the 18-49 demo. The numbers aren't as bad as they seem considering The CW's smaller budget and audience, but the Smallville producers in particular can't be thrilled that the show keeps dropping viewers during the lead-up to its series finale.
I know there are a lot of fans of Fringe and Supernatural reading, so I'll take this opportunity to repeat Jackson's message: if you want your favorite shows to stick around, watch them live on television. While Nielsen ratings are determined primarily from actively monitored households, data from other sources like cable and satellite providers is also a factor in networks' decision to keep or scrap a show. Recording a live viewing or waiting for a Hulu stream does nothing, and getting the show via untracked methods like illegal torrents or video streams does less than nothing. If you TiVo new episodes, I'd better not see your lamentations in the comments section when your favorite show bites the dust.
Fringe airs Friday nights at 9 on Fox.
Smallville Friday nights at 8 on The CW, with Supernatural following at 9.
Source: Entertainment Weekly