UPDATED ON AUGUST 22ND AT 4:00PM: Because some wondered how the other SCI FI shows have fared, I’ve gone ahead and posted a chart detailing the ratings of Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica and Eureka as well as Stargate Atlantis. Check it out by clicking this link.
UPDATED ON AUGUST 21ST AT 2:45PM: I’ve attached the press release from SCI FI confirming the cancellation and announcing the two-hour TV movie (then video release). Check it out after the jump.
The SCI FI Channel is ending Stargate Atlantis after five seasons on the air, that according to a report by Multichannel News. There is still good news, however, as MGM and SCI FI will continue the straight-to-video venture that has proven successful thus far with the first Stargate TV franchise Stargate SG-1, which has already had two movies released on DVD to financial success. The movie will air on the network in 2009 and then be released on DVD (and presumably Blu-ray as well).
Airing in 10-episode blocks since its premiere in July 2004, the series has seen declines with each string of episodes, until the later half of last season. Its current viewership level of a little over 2 million viewers (includes a mix of live and delayed ratings data per Multichannel’s report) and a 1.22 household coverage rating (Live+Same Day only) through the first five episodes of this season is an increase over the comparable season four start. However, it’s still barely half of where the show started off at (4.2M viewers and a 3.2 household coverage rating) for its series premiere in 2004. Season five’s household rating average of 1.22 is 15% higher than the beginning of season four.
Nevertheless, and regardless of the fact that it picked up viewers when Live + 7-day ratings were factored in, a show with a respectable budget going into its sixth season of production on a cable network available to more than 80% of the nation should be attracting a larger audience.
In the meantime, fans can appreciate that SCI FI has decided to air the season straight through, foregoing their hiatus between 10-episode halves (I suppose that announcement was a hint at things to come huh?) as well as an extended life through straight-to-video movies:
“We’re excited to tell Atlantis stories on a bigger canvas,” Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, co-creators of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis and currently executive producers on Atlantis, said in a statement. “The successes of the two original Stargate [direct-to-video] movies The Ark of Truth and Continuum have shown us the opportunities that the movie format offers. We have plans for both SG-1 and Atlantis to remain vital as we expand the franchise.”
Other than it being announced that Stargate writers and producers (and current show runners) Joseph Mallozzi (who has a blog you can check at this link and confirmed the cancellation in this comment on his site) and Paul Mullie will write the first Atlantis movie script, there is no information about what the movie would be about, how many of the cast members would participate and who would direct. GateWorld.net’s report of the news indicates that MGM will make an official announcement on Thursday, so perhaps will get some more details at that point.
I know cancellations are hard to handle for some people but keep in mind that this is a business and sometimes regardless of how much you enjoy a show, the economics don’t warrant it staying on the air. At least it got five seasons,much more than several other series even get a chance at. Plus in this age of DVD and Internet entertainment there’s always the opportunity to revisit the material in some other form.
Also, Wright and Cooper are developing a third TV series in the franchise — called Stargate Universe –- and pitched it to the network in late 2007 (read a report on that from an April 2007 GateWorld.net article here). SCI FI has made no announcement regarding that proposed new series.
I’ve included a chart below tracking the entire run of the show via the household coverage rating (click to enlarge).
Note: Two-hour episodes/nights are counted as one rating. All data based on live or live+same day ratings.
My complete analysis, including a season-by-season breakdown, of the above chart follows directly after the jump.
Here are the season-by-season numbers (percentage change from prior season average):
Season 6 to 7 = +4.1%
Season 7 to 8 = +16.5%
Season 8 to 9 = -9.8%
Season 9 to 10 = -24.9%
Overall = -17.8% from sixth season average
Season 1 to 2 = -16.2%
Season 2 to 3 = -24.2%
Season 3 to 4 = -18.4%
Season 4 to 5 = +6.1%
Overall = -45.0% from first season average
MiniSeries to Season 1 = -32.3%
Season 1 to 2 = -16.9%
Season 2 to 3 = -31.0%
Season 3 to 4 = -1.5%
Overall = -61.7% from mini series average (-43.5% from first season average)
Season 1 to 2 = -20.6%
Season 2 to 3 = +32.1%
Overall = +4.9% from first season average
Note: All data based on the household coverage rating (live or live+same day only).
While three of the networks big four original shows over the past decade have declined from their first season (or sixth season in the case of SG-1, since it came over to SCI FI after five seasons on Showtime), Atlantis has decreased by the the most signficant amount when going on a strictly season basis. Battlestar Galactica has a larger decrease, but that’s due to the mini-series. Besides, I’ve long maintained that the network has held onto BSG more because of the prestige factor than ratings performance (check out a recent post on the matter at this link).
Eureka is the only series to show overall growth. That based on the strength of a strong premiere. Also, Stargate SG-1 never really had a ratings problem until its final season, when it dropped off significantly especially in the final 10 episodes (the hiatus was not good). That’s why the decision by SCI FI to not go on hiatus for the final 10 episodes of Stargate Atlantis is a good one.
So there you have it. I think that’s about one of the most complete pictures you can get on the state of SCI FI programming.
SCI FI Press Release
SCI FI CHANNEL GREENLIGHTS 2-HOUR FILM FROM MGM
BASED ON POPULAR ‘STARGATE ATLANTIS’ SERIES
New York, NY — August 21, 2008 — Building upon the successful Stargate franchise, SCI FI Channel today announced it has greenlit a two-hour movie based on the hit science fiction adventure series Stargate Atlantis. SCI FI will have the exclusive worldwide television premiere of the yet to be titled Stargate Atlantis film, which will then be released on DVD by MGM. The movie will be written by Stargate Atlantis’ executive producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who also serve as series showrunners. The movie is set to follow the fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis, as it draws to its thrilling conclusion in January 2009.
“We’re excited to tell Atlantis stories on a bigger canvas. The successes of the two original Stargate DTV movies The Ark of Truth and Continuum have shown us the opportunities that the movie format offers. We have plans for both SG-1 and Atlantis to remain vital as we expand the franchise,” said Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, co-creators of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis and who both currently serve as executive producers on Atlantis.
“We share in the producers’ enthusiasm to move forward in this direction and we look forward to a strong and continued relationship on Stargate Atlantis in this new format,” said Thomas Vitale, Senior Vice President Programming & Original Movies.
Stargate Atlantis follows the adventures of an intrepid team of military and civilian explorers who travel the distant Pegasus galaxy by means of a Stargate, a portal created long ago by a highly advanced alien civilization called the Ancients. In their never-ending quest to seek out other technologies left behind by the Ancients, the Atlantis team encounters alien cultures — some friend, some foe.
The series will reach a milestone with the 100th episode airing in January 2009. Atlantis is executive produced by Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Carl Binder, and Martin Gero. Mallozzi and Mullie share the reins as showrunners.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., through its operating subsidiaries is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive media, music, and licensed merchandise. The company owns the world’s largest library of modern films, comprising around 4,100 titles. Operating units including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., United Artists Films Inc., Ventanazul, MGM Television Entertainment Inc., MGM Networks Inc., MGM Distribution Co., MGM International Television Distribution Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment LLC, MGM ON STAGE, MGM Music, MGM Consumer Products and MGM Interactive. In addition, MGM has ownership interests in international TV channels reaching approximately 120 countries and territories around the world. MGM ownership is currently as follows: Providence Equity Partners (29%), Texas Pacific Group (21%), Sony Corporation of America (20%), Comcast (20%), DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (7%) and Quadrangle Group (3%). For more information, visit www.mgmchannel.com.
SCI FI Channel is a television network where “what if” is what’s on. SCI FI fuels the imagination of viewers with original series and events, blockbuster movies and classic science fiction and fantasy programming, as well as a dynamic Web site (www.scifi.com ) and magazine. Launched in 1992, and currently in 93 million homes, SCI FI Channel is a network of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies.