Ratings: Fringe Steady, CBS Tops Night; Plus: Did The Defenders Argue a Case for Renewal?

Fox’s Fringe this Friday held steady in the demos (with a 1.5 rating) but dipped a smidgen in total viewers (to 3.76 million), as time slot rival CSI: NY topped the 9 o’clock hour in both measures. CBS’ long-running crime drama in fact led the night with a 2.0 demo rating (up 17 percent from its last fresh ep), while inching up to 11 million total viewers.

Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on Fringe, True Blood and More!

CBS as a whole won Friday with the coveted 18-49 crowd, while Blue Bloods as usual was tops in total viewers (drawing 11.75 million). But The Defenders wrapped up its freshman run by merely “holding steady” with a 1.5 rating (placing second behind Kitchen Nightmares), and drawing 9 million total viewers. How might that affect its “long shot” status on TVLine’s Renewal Scorecard?

TVLine’s “Renew Our Show!” Bracket Tournament: The Defenders vs. Parenthood

What did you watch live this Friday? And what awaits you on your DVR?

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37 Comments
  1. Matthew says:

    Is Fringe still looking good for renewal? I hope so. The end of last nights episode was fantastic!

  2. Michael Sacal says:

    Why is a show with 9 million viewers a long shot for renewal while shows that draw less viewers get renewed?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      I used to wonder the same thing years ago, but it’s simply all about the demo rating, how many 18-49 folks you attract. That’s why BLUE BLOODS, which draws the most viewers *every single* Friday night, only qualifies as a “safe bet” on the scorecard. But getting a certain volume of total viewers can at times nudge a network to “forgive” a less-than-stellar demo.

    • Cameron M says:

      CBS as a whole tends to get higher numbers than other networks. So what is good for one network isn’t nessessarily good for another one.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        This is true as well. CBS looks at its many shows that draw 10 million viewers or more and asks, “OK, which of you has the poorest demo rating? There’s the door.” (If I may oversimplify, LOL.)

    • Anna says:

      Along with all of the other mentioned reasons, the fact remains that at the end of the season each major broadcast network will most likely drop 4-6 hours of programming in order to make room for new shows. For most it will be those at the bottom of the ratings barrell; unless they have made a comittment to keep one of them on the air. This is how perennial duds like Chuck and Fringe keep running; but the downside is that a higher rated show (Harry’s Law? Chigago Code?) must go in their place.

      CBS has the majority of their shows doing 13+ million viewers has dropped shows like Cold Case and Without A Trace, while The CW struugles to get 2 million per show would swoon at Fringe’s numbers.

      ABC has seen just about every show they introduced this season tank; do they try to save one; or do they just keep Brothers And Sisters?

      I think CBS made up their minds when Defenders was moved to Friday. At least we got a happy ending.

      • sashay says:

        Fringe and Chuck are not ‘duds’ – they have a more specialized audience in that you have to be intelligent to appreciate them, unlike badly written dramas such as Harry’s Law. As for a network like CW being at a disadvantage, of course it is. It doesn’t have the distribution networks or marketing budget of ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. Its shows have to be sold to other networks to play outside of the domestic market. Considering its size, I think it does very well.

        • Anna says:

          Just keep telling yourself that…

        • Rush says:

          Until Anna’s last comment I didn’t think she was making a critical judgement about those shows when she used the word “duds”. I thought she meant ratings “duds”. I don’t watch Chuck, but I know a lot of other people who like it, and I think Fringe has some of the best writing and acting on TV today.

      • Nancy Cook Keller says:

        I really loved the Defender’s. The show was entertaining with good actors in it. Believable. Good show is it coming back on. Why did CBS take it off Wednesday and move it to Friday. Messing with the no good Blue Bloods dead atmosphere show. Not enough Tom Selleck too much Donny Wahlberg. Good premise, but should have actors parts more balanced.

  3. steven c says:

    I doubt THE DEFENDERS will make it, especially with so many interesting pilots waiting to be given a chance. Matt, CHAOS looks good – what do you think of that one?

  4. Sourabh says:

    Fringe managed to brilliantly execute the potentially cringe-worthy final scene.

    But it’s not very comforting that Fringe lost viewers in a week that didn’t even have a new episode of Supernatural.

    • Rush says:

      It was a very bad decision for Fox to pre-empt Fringe for the NAACP Image awards last week. I didn’t feel like I had a fair warning about that.

  5. Nicole says:

    Wow, my guide said that basketball was on Friday night, so I didn’t even bother to turn to Fox. This sucks…

  6. luke says:

    anything that doesn’t provide immediate answers and it doesn’t deal with cheap emotional pulls and tricks (greys anatomy and such) does poorly on tv today.

  7. P.J. says:

    I love Jim Belushi and hope that The Defenders makes it one more season. It could probably use a better time slot.

    • Susan - Canada says:

      Defenders had a great night on Wednesdays, then it was moved to Fridays. I believe they replaced it with a reality show on Wednesday nights. I love Jim Belushi and hope it makes it….but I wouldn’t count on it. Reality t.v. is taking over…they’re cheaper to make and don’t have to pay their actors top dollars. It sucks…I hate reality t.v.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich, Editor-at-Large TVLine.com says:

        Actually THE DEFENDERS was replaced on Wednesdays with the CRIMINAL MINDS spinoff.

  8. Dan says:

    There are regional basketball conference games happening last night and this weekend, ahead of March Madness still to come.

  9. Grant says:

    Supernatural wasn’t on last night, so its no surprise to me that Fringe held steady. Supernatural’s not a ratings behemoth by any means, but I think its following is solid. I know I’ll never give up the Winchester boys.

  10. JohnDoe says:

    Alright, FOX. You took a week break, and the ratings held steady for Fringe on return. What more do you need to renew Fringe?

  11. fringegal says:

    Well, according to my source (i.e. the crew of Fringe)it HAS been renewed. So y’all can sleep well, Fringe-ies! :) & from what I hear the next couple episodes are going to be amazing. Something effects-wise that has been done in the movies but never on TV before…

  12. Ashley says:

    Why is “The Defenders” in danger of not getting renewed when its ratings are comparable to those of the “Criminal Minds” spin-off even though it’s on a much more difficult night and doesn’t have as strong a lead-in? What are the chances CBS will cancel the spin-off and move either “The Defenders” or “Blue Bloods” back to Wednesday?

    • abc123 says:

      The Defenders averaged a 1.3 on Friday nights and low 2s on Wednesdays. Blue Bloods averaged a 2.0 on Wednesdays while CM:SB has so far been averaging a 2.7 in the same time slot. They’re comparable, how?

      The Defenders is over, CM:SB gets a second season and Blue Bloods could still go either way.

      • jake says:

        CM:SB will continue to drop. It’s not the hit CBS was hoping for.

      • Rachel says:

        I think she meant in viewership, not demos (or at least not *just* demos) – 9 mil is a lot for a Friday night! Not enough to win the slot or the night, but still, that’s a fair amount of people. And I agree with jake – CM:SB will continue to drop, but I do think it’ll get a 2nd season.

  13. forrest says:

    you have to give fringe credit for NOT telegraphing the final scene! Okay Walter’s just nuts, but then it happened. Wow. Truly expect the unexpected was never more true. Watched Fringe live and enjoyed it. Here to at least one more season of greatness.

  14. gumby says:

    Blue Bloods and CSI NY were both awesome Friday night.

  15. Rachel says:

    Why isn’t a steady 9 million viewers enough to renew The Defenders??

    • John Berggren says:

      CBS has a different scale by which they weigh series. 9 million and a low demo are not good numbers on CBS.

  16. Josh says:

    Advertising, as we all know, is about conveying a product to a specific audience. Mass audiences don’t exist. Fringe targets a largely unserved, wealthy demographic. Lie to Me and The Chicago Code do not achieve the same level of average viewer wealth. So while Fringe gets a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, it does so targeting rich male viewers. Most lurid reality shows do not target these core male demos, which as a group is affluent and likely to dictate group action (whether we like to believe that or not). So if an adult male says “Let’s go to Burger King” it is likely to inspire more than if an old man or young female says “Let’s go to Burger King.” So targeting this adult male group is very important to advertisers. Also, look at the loyalty per minute of viewers of Fringe. People make it event viewing, meaning the television is on full time. Viewers make sure they watch commercials so they don’t miss a critical scene after the break. Conversely, reality shows do not inspire such brand loyalty.

    Ratings, in terms of vague age demos, are antiquated because they do not account for attention span of the average viewer, viewer wealth or potential future wealth, gender, or repeated viewer acclimation. What I mean by the latter is that if the same viewer tunes in each week, is focused, and sees the same commercial again and again, he or she will likely become more affected by the message. So Fringe, with a dedicated, male, wealthy audience, is one worth pursuing.

    Ratios should be created that account for these variances television wide. With Fringe, for instance, look at the 1.5/18-49 it got the past few weeks. Say, if it gets 20% higher average income over the aggregate show, it should get 1.5 + 20% for desirability to advertisers. Plus if it has 60/40 male viewers, and male viewers are desirable, it should get another, say, +10% of desirability. With race, if Caucasian is desirable to advertisers, then put it at a +5% of desirability compared to the aggregate. While calling attention to these differences doesn’t make it a “better” or “worse” show, it is important to the average advertiser. With all these calculations, not even looking at DVRs, Fringe gets a 2.08 in the 18-49 when factoring in income, sex, and race when adjusted. This is just in theory, but it should be factored into what advertisers are looking for. If Fox cancels Fringe, will another show fill the void for this demographic?Unlikely. So cutting Fringe means a pool of ad revenue dries up. Yes, if they put on reality programming, they will get ad revenue. But these advertisers already target their audiences through other programs and most likely can drive prices down because they have options. Fringe, for Fox, is the only game in town for wealthy white males, and that makes it a desirable commodity, 1.5/18-49 or not. It doesn’t speak to a fair society, but it does speak to advertisers desire to make an impression on a group with money still on the table.

  17. ac says:

    Of all the great shows, how could The Defenders be nixed. The Wednesday lineup was great – cute Shamar on Criminal Minds and then the hillarious duo of Belushi and O’Donnell – give the people what they want – bring back The Defenders!!!

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