When Stargate Universe (SGU) premiered on October 2nd of 2009, it brought in 2.3 million viewers. This included both parts 1 and 2 of the premiere. Part 3 of the premiere episode titled "Air" hit the peak of the ratings ride with just over 2.4 million viewers.
After that, the numbers declined slowly but surely until they bottomed out on November 6th with the episode "Earth" at a paltry 1.6 million viewers.
I believe this decline is a result of the franchise fans slowly but surely giving up on the show because it wasn't the light-humored and quipping series they were all expecting.
We've seen the scathing remarks in various articles here on Screen Rant, where everyone is getting a "hate on" for Stargate Universe. In some of your opinions the show reeks, it's boring, there's no action, too much story - there's an interesting perspective of wanting to get rid of the stones and some of you hate some of the characters outright.
True, I hate Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) too, but I think that's more a sign of the actor doing that good of a job to make you hate the character rather than being completely disinterested.
On the flip-side of perspectives, the one angle I agree wholeheartedly with is to get the crew to start exploring the ship, Destiny. Come on folks, I'd be crawling all over that thing getting in trouble and figuring things out. I'd be blowing airlocks and making things go hiss out of the pipes!
You Were Warned
You have to admit, they warned us that SGU was going take the franchise in a new direction, and from all the details they dispensed in promos and such, it would also be character driven. That means learning all about the individuals on this rag tag crew of military, civilians and government oversight committee members - exactly like ABC's Lost did with all their flashbacks, and what Syfy did with Battlestar Galactica, to just name a couple off the top of my head.
With that said, after the November 6th flat line, I think the folks that can appreciate character backgrounds will start to understand the character motivations. Those are the folks that are starting to come on board in the ratings.
The November 13th episode called "Time" drew in 1.8 million and the November 20th episode called "Life" brought in almost 1.9 million.
Before you roast me... I want to say I get it. I was expecting Stargate, the same 15-year franchise to continue in this new Stargate saga. I was not a happy camper when it turned out otherwise. But fortunately for me, I've got a bit of a devil's advocate side to my personality and I came at this show after the series premiere with a different mindset and that worked for me.
It helped that I am a fan of Battlestar Galactica and can appreciate character motivation because in all honesty, if all you want is action and glory in your shows, then A: Yes it can seem oh so slow, but more importantly, B: You're susceptible to the Nielsen mindset that destroys some of the quality content that hits the airwaves. By that I'm referring to Jericho, Journeyman and the like. All good shows that missed their ratings niche because from what I can tell, the story got a bit too convoluted with details.
As it stands, I don't think the Syfy Channel is offering a whole lot of quality programming and for once, they've added something new that actually falls into the category of well thought-out, unlike wrestling and other venues they introduce to us.
For now, it looks like Stargate Universe is plugging along and time will tell if the same demographic that made BSG as popular as it was will keep Stargate Universe afloat.
Source for ratings: By The Numbers