After a disappointing third season which saw the critically acclaimed series notching record low ratings, the fourth season premiere of Battlestar Galactica opened with 2.14M viewers. That’s an impressive 41% increase over the third season finale among viewers (1.52M to 2.14M) and 38% among adults 18-49 (0.8 to 1.1). Continue reading for my full analysis plus a chart detailing the ratings of the entire series from the two-part miniseries through this premiere.
Looking at the graph below (click to enlarge):
it becomes more clear just how important this jump in viewership was. One argument that many will make is that because this is the final season, ratings are no longer an issue. But that’s really not a very good argument to be making. With the spinoff series Caprica nearing a pilot shoot, it’s important that BSG do well in the ratings so the network can use the show to spring into Caprica.
Also, SCI FI has done an rather large amount of promotion for the series, and it is continually featured in online and print magazines. Considering all the hype and praise thrown at the show, the ratings it was returning last season were very, very disappointing. The trendline shown in the above graph was cause for concern. You can’t have your flagship series with 1.5M or less viewers, especially when the show started off with over 4 million for the miniseries, and a nearly 3 million average in its first season.
We’ll know for sure over the next few weeks whether or not this audience is in it till the end, or if the premiere was just heavily sampled because of the promotion from SCI FI. Since season two, ‘BSG’ has had a hard time holding onto premiere audiences. It happened in season 2 when it premiered with a 2.6 household coverage rating only to drop to a 1.9 the following week (1.97 average rating over the season) and it happened in season two when it debuted with a 1.8 rating, only to go on to average a very disappointing 1.39 average rating over the season, culminating with a 1.2 for the season finale.
So this is a good, positive start to the season, but at the same time it’s only one week and oddly enough it’s still the lowest ever rating for a premiere in the show’s four seasons.
Time will tell.
In the meantime, take some time to glance over historical numbers for the series which I’ve included below.
Averages (coverage household rating)
Miniseries – 3.5
Season 1 – 2.38
Season 2 – 1.97
Season 3 – 1.39
“Razor” TV Movie – 1.20
Season 4 – 1.60
Season Premieres (coverage household rating/viewers)
Miniseries, part 1 – 3.2 (3.90M)
Miniseries, part 2 – 3.8 (4.46M)
Season 1 – 2.6 (3.05M)
Season 2 – 2.6 (3.05M)
Season 3 – 1.8 (2.16M)
Season 4 – 1.6 (2.14M)
Data source: Nielsen Media Research