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Terra Nova’s Ratings: Not A Disaster (Yet)

Fox’s Terra Nova finally debuted last night – months after its originally-scheduled date – to somewhat disappointing ratings; the show was consistently beaten by whatever was on ABC and CBS at the time. Considering the high-profile nature of the series, and the high cost of each episode, is the show in trouble already?

Well, it depends how you define trouble, of course, but the short answer is “Not really.” There’s no getting around the fact that 9 million viewers is probably lower than Fox was hoping for, considering both the expense and pedigree that Terra Nova brought with it – Already, analysts are blaming ESPN’s Monday Night Football as a potential reason why the male audience didn’t turn out as expected – and there’s probably no joy at the network for being completely destroyed by competition like 2 Broke Girls and Dancing With The Stars on the show’s first outing. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the series when it comes to the all-important-to-advertisers 18-49 demographic; Terra Nova may still have come in third place, but barely beneath Dancing‘s second-place for the whole evening. Based on these numbers, the show is doing perfectly fine.

(It’ll be interesting to see what the show’s ratings look like once DVR numbers are factored in. Is there a great crossover between, say, Two and A Half Men viewers and people wanting to see that guy from Life on Mars frown at some dinosaurs? We’ll see.)

What should be worrying Fox execs, however, is how fine the show can continue to do. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting much from Terra Nova, but found it to be diverting enough to check out the second episode. But am I alone? The potential for drop-off over the next few weeks is great (Barring some spectacular reviews and more publicity that will somehow hook an audience who hadn’t heard of the show yet, it’s almost guaranteed), and with each episode costing a rumored $4 million – which actually seems low, considering that the pilot cost $16 million – there is going to be a point wherein the show falls into a danger zone, and actions need to be taken.

We know, for example, that 4 million viewers was enough to put last year’s Lone Star into crisis mode, with the show being canceled with the next episode (3.2 million). Fringe was moved to Friday nights for ratings of around 4.5-5 million (and that show also started with 9 million viewers – It took three and a half seasons to fall to that number, which may be worth bearing in mind). It’s extremely unlikely that Terra Nova could lose half of its audience quickly, putting it anywhere near this space, but not impossible; Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles lost almost 50% of its audience between its first and second episodes, but even that kept it above 10 million viewers.

What we’re left with is a soft opening for Terra Nova, and one that leaves it in a difficult space. If it can somehow keep ahold of the audience it had last night, then it’ll be fine for the foreseeable future. Considering how unlikely that is, I’m betting that we’ll see a move to Fridays before the season is out – Surely a Fringe lead-in would help? If not, then even getting it away from CBS’ strong comedy block would be a start – or some kind of behind-the-scenes shake-up to try and refocus the show to catch a wider audience.

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Comments

  • Obliviousmnd

    they always put the shows that have potential in the worst possible time slots.  firefly was cancelled because of this and the fact that Fox saw some weird need to mix up the episode releases making the first and only season a hopscotch game of ‘wtf’

    get your heads outta your sses

  • Jyoungman1

    I watched the first episode and it was pretty good…

  • big AL

    So you watch and DVR Terra Nova is was good

  • big Al

    So you watch the football game and DVR Terra Nova was what I meant to say

  • Pablo

    Great show,,who needs football

  • ray

    i don’t like terra nova.

  • Quaint711312

    Why is it with FOX network it is all about the numbers and why should *I* care?  Why should THEY?  Based on strictly numbers FOX has justified the cancelling of things like Dollhouse – Firefly and several other projects. These people looking at nothing but numbers are as emotionless and robotic as any that ONLY look at numbers.  Why people expect human quality TV from such obvious machines is beyond me. Terra Nova will prove to cost too much and to not get the *numbers* so I for one am not wasting my time on something already decided by faceless, nameless machines spitting out nothing but what they see as cold hard facts. I suggest others do the same as well and skip the heart break when it meets it’s accounting end.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    FOX! LISTEN! PUT THIS ON TUESDAYS! FOLLOW IT WITH FRINGE! IT’LL WORK! I SWEAR IT!

  • Paul

    Same problem as with Green Lantern this summer: too much hype, not enough substance to hold an audience.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VWS6CY2NHEVA2JBZ2MTGJIEXPE Tom

    I hope it doesn’t turn into another Firefly and get cancelled.  I kinda like it. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    Wait… “not enough substance”? You are used to way too much substance then. There was plenty to be had in the show.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    It’s like you have no idea how the business works. Fox isn’t the only one who follows those numbers. Every channel does. They use them to decide how much the advertisers are going to pay. If the ratings are low, then the advertisers won’t pay as much, and then the network can’t afford it. This is an expensive show. It needs stellar ratings to last any decent amount of time. Quality isn’t nearly as important as ratings. If it was, Firefly would be in it’s ninth, 52-episode season (to explain, that would mean there was an episode every week since it began).

  • FloatingIsland

    Didn’t get the chance to watch it. Understand that FOX will re-air it Saturday at 8 p.m. though.

  • Batmancap

    it wasn’t as bad as in expected.I’m gonna watch it next week. i am weary of it being from the people who have cancelled firefly,dollhouse and terminator.PLUS they put fringe on fridays.they  deserve to suffer for  this and keep terra nova.

  • Doug

    Didn’t see it. It looked like another ‘you care about the Earth we didn’t listen global warming post apocalyptic’ show I’ve seen a dozen times.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    Nu uh! It’s PRE-apocalyptic!

  • Doug

    O.K. Whatever.

  • Scarletspeed7

    If this was on NBC with these numbers, it would be a smash hit.  Hell, Chuck’s gotten 5 seasons with about 21 viewers.

  • Bowser

    BRING BACK HUMAN TARGET!!!

  • Tobeloak

    I couldn’t get into this show everyone looked like fake plastic toys. That artificiality just pushed me away from the characters. I mean if these people were born in a polluted and diseased world where are the deformities? Even the old dude look like a GI Joe action figure.

  • Blah

    Agreed.

  • Omegasaga

    Sci fi shows that reliy heavily on CGI  and cost tons to make in general  DO NOT LAST on the major networks EVER!!!!

    Sci fi maybe, but thats about it/

  • Paul

    Are you sure you’re not confusing “trite formulaic story elements” with “substance”?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    Yes, I’m sure.

  • RunnerX13

    Yeah, Monday seemed like a bad choice, two hours is a lot of time when there was so much else on.  But personally, I watched it and liked it enough to come back next week. 

  • 0bsessions

    At the same time, Fox has finally gone on record repeatedly as noting that things work differently here in the DVR age than they did back in the day. It’s pretty much how Fringe is surviving.

  • 0bsessions

    Actually, a poluted and diseased world is more likely to result in better specimens of a given species in that the weak and deformed will be more likely to die out without a chance to breed.

  • 0bsessions

    LOST went for, what, 120 plus episodes?

  • 0bsessions

    Monday’s a pretty awful night to throw a drama, but it can work. Heroes was doing fine for its first season and I think its dip in ratings had more to do with a tremendous drop in quality than anything else.

  • Anonymous

    I’d rather have that third season of TERMINATOR THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES with all the money FOX wasted on Terra Nova. I can’t believe no one watched TERMINATOR. What the hell is wrong with you people. Yeah, that’s right “YOU PEOPLE”.

  • demoncat_4

    in other words sooner or later due to the costs and if it  not debuting way up to expections. tera nova will soon join the other shows fox killed that looked good. but proably soon due to cost.

  • nailsin

    LOST didn’t rely on CGI.

  • nailsin

    The show was terrible. The money was wasted. Stupid teen-age plot devices dominated the
    show and  stunk it up.

  • 0bsessions

    It didn’t rely entirely on CGI, but it made routine use of it (I.E, Smoke Monster). That said, it was an extremely expensive show that lasted six years on a major network. The post I was responding to was incorrect.

    Additionally, Fringe relies heavily on CGI, costs a ton to produce and is currently in its fourth season, which is pretty good for a non-medical/procedural drama these days.

  • nailsin

    But Fringe and Lost were Shakespeare compared to Terra Nova.

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley Powers

    I liked the show, I hope Fox lets it develop an audience.

    It could help to have a House lead in, which it didn’t have this week. And Fox did put it up against strong competition. A Friday move would probably be better.

    Doesn’t matter to me which night it’s one, because I buy the episodes on Amazon.

  • Smbgti

    was i watching the same show as every1 else? poorly scripted with weak characters. there is so many greats shows which surpass this hands down      

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.schmitt#!/ David R. Schmitt

    For a show about dinosaurs it was surprisingly dull. Also the main family I felt no pity for not could I relate. Lost me after the first hour.

  • Matthew Hilliard

    I think it was good too….One thing I don’t get about TV execs, they always fail to understand how many viewers watch shows (illegally) online.  Be it through bitTorrent sharing or on megavideo style sites…Advertisement placing INSIDE the show itself is the only way to ensure that advertisers can reach their markets.  You may ask, “how can I fit a pepsi ad into a show about time travelers and dinosaurs?”…and the answer is: get creative!  20-something viewers will watch online without commercials 9/10 times… I don’t have cable nor do I plan on getting it.  Just like iTunes found a way to bridge the gap between new technology and old ways of selling music, advertisers will have to figure this out.

    Bottom line:  there are TONS of viewers not counted because of the archaic ratings model used today…its a joke.  Get with times FOX – I bet more people watch Fringe online “illegally” than online…or at least it is comparable…..Until they figure this out the whole system is flawed and good shows will be cancelled….its embarrassing how behind the times ratings are…sorry but its true 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    I’d really like to know your sources for most of your information.

  • Tobeloak

    Oh right, because the constant food and water contamination will do nothing but weed out the weak in the gen-pool. /s Dude that logic makes no since we all ready suffer from diseases due to the environmental contamination. As far as I know, there are no reports of Hitler styled uebermensch populated townships popping up while their local water tables are 90% mercury. Quite the opposite in fact, their are plenty of Monsanto polluted crops in township who’s farmers are in litigation over their sterility & cancers all throughout the US. If you have some examples of the contrary I’d be most interested.

  • Raydeforest

    Terra NO! Bad acting, bad writing, bad effects…bad TV…sorry

  • Zran1189

    I have already seen Terra Nova and it won’t air in Australia until sunday :P

  • Waflynn46

    The trouble with TN right out of the gate is why go back 85 million years to “start over.” Didn’t the writers hear about a asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Why not go back 10,000 years or even 5,000?

  • Waflynn46

    ….and here we go again. Remember Doll House? How about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?  2-3 years tops for TN.

  • Gncr11

    too many side stories already to become emotionally involved….. The sixers? the lost son? the girl with no parents?  the real reason behind TERRA NOVA’s existnce? I doubt this thing makes it to explain away just ONE of them….good try though….see you on the other side!

  • Hershel92

    There was a worm-hole. They could not choose the time which adds to the story in my opinion. Why go back 5000 years when you could have 20 million years to build a civilization. Not to mention the technological advancements would easily allow them to pretty much avert the meteor strike all together ie large scale weapons. Nuclear etc… 20million years to prepare for an ice age( if it would even happen with the meteor strikeavoided) I would like our chances.

  • Davy Jones

    I’m thinking Fox will pull this show before all the episodes already in the can are aired.

    Maybe some later episodes will explain how the time warp occurred and why the Earth in 2149 was in such an awful condition but the premiere didn’t bother to cover those issues. Note to Fox: Sci-Fi fans are interested in that kind of stuff.

    And, although no human has ever seen a live dinosaur, weapons exist today that could blow a big hole in the meanest of the hungry raging creatures. And, you’d think the year 2149 energy based weapons depicted on the show could pretty much eliminate any people eating dinosaur threat.

  • Kelly

    You know what? People just don’t know how to like sci-fi anymore. All people want to see is a bunch of drunken comedic sex. I hope they keep this show around. I like it. I was excited to see a new sci-fi show out there. I miss my Farscape :( Thank god for Netflix so the sci-fi people can have something to watch.

  • Shindig82

    agrre to that

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FXVGXU3I5VMNBK5OZAJYUNUYJ4 Sunny

    I never trust Nielsen ratings, there is too much room for interpretation.  With that said, my wife and I both watched the show live, not DVR, and liked it.  We will be watching at least for the next few episodes and most likely the entire season unless the story line goes down…

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t seen this, but is it like a Jurassic Park tv series? Cause that cage in the photo looks like the ones in the movies.

  • FriedRize

    It depends on what they do, Spielbergs crap was good enough for movies, and perhaps still is for the one off, but the rubbish about a cardboard cutout family doesn’t cut it week after week. If the next episode focuses on some sort of domestic problem with the family this show is a total dead duck. It lacks fun, creativity, imagination, vision, awe – don’t expand on that by having more troubles with a stupid teen, or even worse the young one gets a pet dog *arrrgh*
    Creatively Speilberg is a hasbeen, he can’t be bothered to try these days.

  • guest

    THIS WAS THE BEST PILOT I HAVE EVER WATCHED. I AM SO EXCITED IF THIS GETS CANCELLED I WILL BE SOOOOO MAD

  • Scifi freak

    I agree! I reckon Terra Nova was a good show! The actors were good so i dont know what they were talking about and I really think people need to put a sock in it because you arent even giving the show a chance! For gods sake its only been going for two episodes! I think your criticisms are ridculous and everyone should just maybe WATCH further on instead of babbling how bad it was! I thought the creativity was good! I am not blind and I do admit there are a lot of discrepancies but there are with almost any good show! No one gets it perfect and frankly I think the power of the imagination is a good thing! I am sure they will tell us but for now it gives people the chance to think how that happened! Give it a break and I am definitely watching the next episode

  • http://profiles.google.com/leeroybrowne Leeroy Browne

    I loved it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leeroybrowne Leeroy Browne

    TN reminded me of Earth 2. I LOVED THAT SHOW! But it was ruined in the end because they killed it off before it had finished. I really hope that doesn’t happen this time. The ratings system sucks, I don’t believe it’s a true indication of what people like and they’re watching. There should be a voting system (even just on the networks websites) where people can vote on their favourite shows and say what , when, where and how they’re watching it. I would think that would give the networks a much better indication on what shows are worth pushing and how and where to market them and what formats are the most popular. If most people are downloading or watching a show online, you would think they would try to focus on that format and making money from it. I think TN will be great and could have a long life if given the chance.

  • Chris Calvin

    I watched about 30 minutes of this show, and changed the channel.  It sucks.  Once again the world is about to be destroyed because of the environment.  Give it a rest, let the aliens destroy us like they used to, or WW3 or something besides the environment.  The acting was very bad, the storyline was stupid, overdone, useless stuff and they haven’t even gotten to the dinosaurs yet.
    I don’t think they will cancel it before the season is over, but they need to.  Terra NOTTA is right.

  • Jas

    yeah terra nova is really like a combination of other shit tv shows and movies
    all the characters are pretty non remarkable

  • Sortingman

    This is The Good The Bad and The Ugly,
    GOOD try but the story line is off and the acting is terrible. Every scene is predictiable and the characters do not draw you in. I was bored after the fist few minutes of the pilot, the second episode I am trying to watch as I type this……..its really held my attention!
    The science and research behind the plot is done Badly. Whats with the law that you can only have 2 offspring and only enforce it with a FINE? The only reason the guy ended up in jail was because he hit the cop…….
    The dinos are UGLY! Come on for $16 million I could have done better than that!
    I had hopes for the show, it will now be forever removed from my DVR.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish, that is 3 hours of my life I can never get back!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7NMWSCFQFP2EYLJDWQWCUOGR4 WC

    I think its a little cheesy. The characters are not developed very well…..they definitely resort to  “sex appeal” to lure viewers…..sorry, it had potential, but they spent too much time on  special effects and not enough on story and characters.  

  • TV addict

    The show is horrible.  Flat acting and family group, cheesiness abundant, cliche on every level. The “future” community clearly came out of a utopic hippie with a thing for long cotton shirts and bandanas. It is all very Californina in the 70s. Lead man is already married (so no sexual tension to be exploited), to an ugly woman and has a typical cliche formula (bored teen, brainy pre-teen and sweet/wild eyed child).
    Jeez, I even like Life on Mars better.  

  • Kat

    I really enjoy the show so far. It’s new and fresh. I love futuristic and science fiction stuff, and my husband loves dinosaurs, so it works out for both of us. Does anyone know how the ratings are now?

  • Kat

    I could be wrong, but why would diseased people be recruited to Terra Nova? Obviously they’ve been recruiting people that are useful, therefore we wouldn’t get the chance to see diseased people. Plus, the main characters weren’t on the polluted Earth long anyway so there wasn’t much of a chance for us to.

  • 0bsessions

    Or maybe people just don’t care for it. My wife’s kept going, but personally, I didn’t care for the show. I found the characters to range anywhere from bland to outright annoying.

  • 0bsessions

    “I really think people need to put a sock in it because you arent even giving the show a chance!”

    The beauty of television these days is that if it actually manages to turn it around, I can come back and catch up later. As it stands, I have too much television to watch to justify watching something that I don’t find remotely interesting after a couple episodes.

    Given, I’ll acknowledge it could easily turn around. I found the first nine or so episodes of Fringe to be remarkably boring, but it’s pretty much top of my “Must Watch” list as this point (Though its probelm was a boring plot as opposed to characters, which is much easier to overcome, I loved pretty much everyone but Olivia from the get-go and she’s long since managed to grow on me). That said, between Fringe, Person of Interest (Hooked from day one), Community, Burn Notice in a month and Boardwalk Empire while my wife is watching Dexter, Glee and the X-Factor (All that while catching up on older television I’ve never gotten into that I’m just catching up on now like House and Alias), fitting in this show while maintaining a life outside of television is more trouble than its worth at its current level of quality.

    It’s a competetive world these days and if a show can’t hook people with the pilot, it’s going to have this kind of trouble.

  • 0bsessions

    Some quick google searching shows good retention. It also had very strong international numbers.

    In other words, it’s almost certainly safe.

  • Ian

    Moving it to Friday would be boneheaded – this is where genre shows go to reduced expectations but also mainstream obscurity, and they never return from there. Fox has killed many genre shows on that night. Terra Nova is so far an old Doctor Who plot meets Jurassic Park meets Land of the Lost with Star Trek writing, so as far as mashups go it’s hit and miss but deserves to be coddled and a spotlight. Definitely would need a big season 2 premiere gimmick and ad campaign to stay relevant after 9 months off the air though.