SCI FI & SYNDICATION RATINGS
GateWorld publishes all available Nielsen ratings data for Stargate's run on SCI FI Channel and in U.S. syndication. Ratings represent the percentage of the viewing audience that watched the show the week it first aired. We report numbers for the first cable run and first syndication run only -- not reruns on the same station.
Syndication airs Stargate a little over a year after each season's run on cable, so these ratings do not necessarily reflect the show's total viewership. (Fans who watched new episodes on Showtime and SCI FI Channel may not tune in when it is aired in syndication the following year.) The ratings game is complex, and hardcore fans make up a relatively small portion of any show's viewership. Nielsen ratings should not be taken as reflective of how "good" or "bad" an episode (or the previous week's episode) is.
Here's an example of ratings numbers:The first number (2.7) represents the percent of total households that watched the show. The second number (2.9) represents the percent of households that had their TV on when the show aired and watched. The final number (-4), when available for syndication, shows the percentage change from the same broadcast week in the previous year. Cable ratings usually include just the second number -- a percentage of those TV's who receive SCI FI and who were watching television when the show aired.
The TV viewing audience generally increases from year to year. For Season Four (2001-2002), the total syndication market was about 1,055,000 households -- so one ratings point, or one percent, equals about 1,055,000 households.
For Season Six (2002-2003), SCI FI Channel reached an estimated 78 million households -- so one ratings point, or one percent, equals about 780,000 households. (The number of viewers is higher.) By Season Nine, that number had exceeded 88 million households, though still far lower than the 100+ million television households in the country.
It should also be noted that one cannot directly compare syndication ratings numbers to cable ratings (though they are listed side-by-side in the episode guide). Cable television is an entirely different field of play, and each cable network has a different number of homes it reaches. As the ratings number is a percentage of the network's total penetration, a lower rating on a station available to many more people might work out to more viewers than a higher rating on a station available to fewer people.
SCI FI Channel, for example, is a niche station received by most cable subscribers as part of their basic package. Like all other cable networks, a relatively low ratings number (like the 1.8 received by the Season Six premiere) may be quite a success. SCI FI's top-rated series usually receive ratings between 1.5 and 2.5. (For context, Lifetime, one of cable's highest-rated networks, only rarely breaks the 4.0 mark.) Such a rating for a broadcast network would be quite low, because they are not niche channels and because original cable programming is still a relatively new phenomenon.
Read more about television ratings at NielsenMedia.com.