The 3-hour block of original programming placed SCI FI in cable’s top 10 networks and made it number one for the entire quarter among its peers in key demographics, including viewers 18 to 49 and viewers 25 to 54. SCI FI even averaged more viewers 25 to 54 than “netlets” the WB and UPN — another milestone in cable’s encroachment on the broadcast networks.
Led by Ghost Hunters, the SCI FI Wednesday block of “alternative reality series” also drew big numbers, with double- and triple-digit increases among young adults. The channel’s Saturday action movies helped out with such hits as “Pterodactyl,” which became SCI FI’s highest-rated original movie ever with more than 3.1 million viewers.
Versus 2004’s third quarter, the network was up 10 percent among viewers 18 to 49; 12 percent among viewers 18 to 34; 6 percent among viewers 25 to 54; and 7 percent among women 18 to 49.
In spite of stiff competition from network premieres, the Stargate SG-1 finale and a new episode of Battlestar Galactica were the top two cable entertainment programs among persons 25 to 54 on September 16. A week later, the mid-season finale of Galactica drew 2.3 million viewers and became the number one entertainment program on cable for the night in the same demographic.
Despite the fact that the 2-part Stargate season finales brought those series’ lowest ratings of the season on September 16 and 23, The SCI FI Channel won’t be running scared from the networks’ new fall seasons. “The days of us rolling over and moving out of the way of this stuff are gone,” network Executive Vice President and General Manager Dave Howe told Broadcasting & Cable (“Cable Claims Fall Turf”). “We have to put up some of our best content against these shows.”
The result is that, in the last 10 years, cable’s top 10 networks have closed the fall ratings gap by 50 percent. Fall ratings for the broadcast networks used to be 12 times larger than cable’s, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Now the averages are six times larger.
New episodes of SG-1, Atlantis, and Galactica will resume in January.