NBC's 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

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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