Bad news, Fringe fans. Last Friday's body-snatching episode, "Stowaway", had the worst ratings the show has ever seen.
The episode pulled in 3.8 million viewers, with just 1.3 million in the crucial 18-49 range. That's a 13% decline from the previous week, and a 35% drop from Fringe's first episode in its new Friday slot. The show aired opposite the NCAA Final Four tournament on CBS.
Fringe's future has been murky ever since Fox decided to move the show to the infamous "Friday night death slot". After a good start, the show started to bleed viewers, and last week's disappointing numbers may ring the death knell for the fan-favorite series.
If Fringe's numbers don't improve, its chances of returning to television next Fall are slim. Fox is preparing three science fiction series for the new season: Stephen Spielberg's dino drama Terra Nova, Tim Kring's character-focused superpower show Touch and J. J. Abrams' time-bender Alcatraz. (Abrams also co-created Fringe for the network.) All three will require significant resources and advertising, and Fox won't think twice about cutting Fringe out of the equation.
Fringe's lead-in reality cooking show Kitchen Nightmares did better than Fringe with 1.5 million target viewers (3.742 million overall). Over on The CW, Smallville and Supernatural also lost viewers, but both were rerun episodes. Smallville scored 1.4 million overall views with just 800,000 in the target demographic. As usual Supernatural fared slightly worse at 1.3 million and 800,000 respectively. The fact that Fringe lost numbers even while The CW's sci-fi shows aired repeats does not bode well at all.
While the extenuating circumstances of the basketball tournament and spring break for millions of students and faculty may soften the blow, the simple fact is that the numbers don't look good for the three Friday science fiction shows. However, Smallville fans needn't worry as their favorite is coming to a close anyway, and if CW president Dawn Ostroff is to be believed, a seventh season of Supernatural is in the works.
Smallville airs Fridays @8pm on The CW, with Supernatural following @9pm.
Fringe airs Fridays @9pm on Fox.