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‘Smallville’ dominates Thursday genre TV ratings; ‘Alias’ collapses, ‘Night Stalker’ struggles

According to reports, the following is a list of Nielsen’s top-rated science fiction and fantasy-themed programs for the 18-49-year-old viewers on U.S. TV for Thursday, October 13, 2005:

Key: Rank, Title, Network, Timeslot, (Rating/share of audience)
1. Smallville, The WB, 8/7c p.m. (2.4/7)
2. Alias, ABC, 8/7c p.m. (2.2/6)
3. Night Stalker, ABC, 9/8c p.m. (2/5)

By far the success story of the group is Smallville, which is succeeding in its new timeslot. The young Superman-to-be had no problem facing ABC’s Alias, knocking the spy-fi show to last place in the ratings.

That is horrible news for ABC and Alias. As a member of one of the original “Big Three” networks, to be trailing networks like UPN and WB (which aren’t even broadcast in many U.S. cities) in the ratings is crippling the network’s entire night’s lineup.

Of the audience that is watching Alias, more than half were over age 50, a no-no when trying to attract the Thursday night advertising dollar. It would be shocking if Alias is not pre-empted for November sweeps.

Conversely, for a startup TV network like The WB, the ratings goal is simply NOT to be in last place in the 18-49 demographic. Here, Smallville succeeds, and seems to be picking up steam as its audience grows week-on-week.

At 9 p.m. the performance of Night Stalker, the lowest-rated genre show of the night, may not be as bad as it seems. Excluding baseball playoffs, Night Stalker was third in the ratings – trailing only CSI and the Donald Trump version of The Apprentice, two network TV powerhouses.

Compared to other Thursday ABC programming, Night Stalker also attracts a younger audience and is the only show with higher ratings when compared to the programming ABC was airing in the same timeslot last year. But the show is making no headway against the similarly-themed CSI on CBS.

So ABC had the odd situation of explaining how Night Stalker, the lowest-rated genre TV show, is their best-performing show for the night. Still, its ratings performance is marginal; not the undisputed success ABC had wanted.

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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