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Network Audiences Erode Big Time For Genre Shows

'V,' 'Fringe,' 'Chuck' all big losers for the 2010-11 season

With a new slate of science-fiction and genre shows coming to television next fall and next winter, it's clear that the networks aren't getting the memo about how such programming is faring on their schedule. But maybe they see something we don't, and it will get better.

But for now, it seems that audiences are not only not tuning in to new genre programming being offered by the networks, they aren't sticking around for the older stuff. Amazingly, however, four of the six shows are returning, and one of the two not returning -- "Smallville" -- was scheduled to exit after this past season anyway.

Yet "Smallville" was the only returning genre show that had any type of growth over the previous year, increasing its Friday audience by a little more than 3 percent. The same wasn't true for its lead-out program, "Supernatural," however, which saw its audience fall more than 20 percent to a 1.4 rating/2 share, according to Fast National average overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co.

The worst numbers came from "V," the only other returning genre program that won't be back for the 2011-12 season. It lost more than 38 percent of its audience from the year before to average a 3.3/5 for ABC.

"Fringe" didn't do much better, especially after it was moved from Thursdays to Fridays, losing a little more than 37 percent of its audience. However, Fox remains supportive of the show, and renewed it for a fourth season, although many are speculating that it will be a final season.

The networks did debut three new shows this past season. And while their ratings were all slightly better than returning shows, none of them -- "No Ordinary Family" on ABC, and both "The Event" and "The Cape" on NBC -- are coming back next year.

Largest Genre Audience Fluctuations, 2010-11 Season -- [Audience Loyalty Index]

1.    Smallville (CW)    1.5/3    +3.2%    [81.5]
2.    Vampire Diaries (CW)    1.9/3    -15.6%    [88.2]
3.    Supernatural (CW)    1.4/2    -20.4%    [79.6]
4.    Chuck (NBC)    3.1/5    -21.6%    [82.7]
5.    Fringe (Fox)    2.7/5    -37.5%    [76.7]
6.    V (ABC)    3.3/5    -38.1%    [82.0]

Fast Nationals usually provide a snapshot of what Americans are watching by pulling numbers from the top urban markets that include both live viewing and same-day timeshifted viewing. A rating point generally represents more than 1.1 million households while the share indicates the percentage of televisions turned on that was tuned to the specific program. These numbers typically shift when final ratings are issued.

Data collected from The Nielsen Co., as distributed by Zap2it. GenreNexus tracks non-news, non-event programming, and figures for this story reflect airing of new episodes only. For more information on the Audience Loyalty Index, click here.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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