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Stargate Universe Ratings Round-Up

Friday - May 20, 2011
Category: RATINGS | Tags:

From 2.3 million in October 2009 to 1.1 million viewers in May 2011, Stargate Universe has had something of a rough ride in the ratings over its 40 episodes. Here we’ll look at the good and the bad of the ratings race as we wrap up two years of SGU on Syfy Channel.

You can find our complete charts of the show’s ratings performance in the episode guide, for Season One and Season Two.

Note that all of these numbers are “Live + Same Day” — counting those who watch Syfy’s broadcast live, or record it on DVR and watch it before 3 a.m. that night.  SGU typically gained between 40 and 50 percent on these numbers in the “Live + 7 Days” DVR ratings.  Its total audience also includes international broadcasts, plus lots of online viewers, legal and illegal, both in the U.S. and around the world.

First, here’s how the final 10 episodes rated:

EPISODE (air date) VIEWERS (million) CHANGE
Deliverance (Mar. 7) 1.035
Twin Destinies (Mar. 14) 0.928 – 10%
Alliances (Mar. 21) 0.814 – 12%
Hope (Mar. 28) 0.876 + 8%
Seizure (Apr. 4) 0.823 – 6%
The Hunt (Apr. 11) 1.020 + 24%
Common Descent (Apr. 18) 0.861 – 16%
Epilogue (Apr. 25) 1.092 + 27%
Blockade (May 2) 0.993 – 9%
Gauntlet (May 9) 1.134 + 14%

Next, an overall look at the half-season ratings averages:

SEASON (aired) VIEWERS (million) CHANGE
Season 1.0 (Fall 2009) 1.989
Season 1.5 (Spring 2010) 1.445 – 27%
Move to Tuesdays
Season 2.0 (Fall 2010) 1.078 – 25%
Move to Mondays
Season 2.5 (Spring 2011) .958 – 11%

The Bad: A large percentage of viewers (43 percent) who checked out the 3-hour pilot episode “Air” had tuned out by the first mid-season break.  The network’s attempts to find a new audience on Tuesdays was a failure, as SGU shed another 20 percent between the first season finale and the second season premiere.  And when the series returned this spring for its final, post-cancellation run, it spent six of the last 10 episodes below the 1 million mark.

The Good: After those first 10 episodes, within each of its three half-seasons (each airing on a different night of the week) those ratings stayed pretty consistent.  Once the series found its audience, it largely held on to it — changes of night and the cancellation news notwithstanding.  After the drop-off that occurred during the first 10 episodes, the show lost the vast majority of its live viewership between seasons — not episode-to-episode, while the show was airing.

Anecdotally, we also know that — even if some SG-1 and Atlantis fans didn’t watch — Stargate Universe drew new fans who had never watched Stargate before.

Finally, here is the full breakdown for each half-season aired (in millions of viewers):

Started: 2.346 million
Ended: 1.340 (– 43%)
Highest: 2.447 (“Air, Part 3”)
Lowest: 1.340 (“Justice”)
Average: 1.989 million

Started: 1.486 million
Ended: 1.469 (– 1%)
Highest: 1.6 (“Divided”)
Lowest: 1.178 (“Incursion, Part 1”)
Average: 1.445 million

Started: 2.346 million
Ended: 1.469 (– 37%)
Highest: 2.447 (“Air, Part 3”)
Lowest: 1.178 (“Incursion, Part 1”)
Average: 1.717 million

Started: 1.175 million
Ended: 1.094 (– 7%)
Highest: 1.222 (“Awakening”)
Lowest: 0.967 (“Trial and Error”)
Average: 1.078 million

Started: 1.035 million
Ended: 1.134 (+ 10%)
Highest: 1.134 (“Gauntlet”)
Lowest: 0.814 (“Alliances”)
Average: 0.958 million

Started: 1.175 million
Ended: 1.134 (– 3%)
Highest: 1.222 (“Awakening”)
Lowest: 0.814 (“Alliances”)
Average: 1.018 million

Stargate Universe averaged 1.367 million live viewers over 40 episodes, airing on three different nights of the week. Its highest-rated episode was in week two, with the conclusion to the series premiere. Its lowest-rated episode was “Alliances,” the third episode of the post-cancellation run on Monday nights.

Darren created GateWorld in 1999, and today is the owner and managing editor. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three children. (More)

COMMENTS (62):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • I really liked stargate universe!
    Obviously like every other stargate fan i was skeptical throughout the first season because I was freaked out by the change in style but i think the series really came into it’s own league through the second season and i’ll always regard epilogue as one of my top 5 favourite stargate episodes! It’s a shame that it’s been cancelled because I really got into it!
    How do I find out the ratings for the U.K?
    I’m eagre to find out how the series done over here on Sky1!

  • Damn WTH! This entire saga was amazing! I cannot seriously believe the damn suits cut SGU from SyFy. You know, they put on fake Wrestling because of the viewership…. what the hell. Ever heard of “Stick to your Guns”? SyFy, you can suck it. I know its a business so change your name then sell outs…. this sucks… Gateworld, I have followed for years but now I am so upset I had to make a post abou this. Im still upset and cannot believe that one of the greatest if not the best series on TV is canceled. The ratings system is flawed in a huge way. Stargate WILL be back. Might be years but its not over.

  • Sorry had to post gain.. the best option for all of us is demanding a REAL SyFy channel who sticks to their guns…. BS

  • So, remember what was in the SGU pilot before the first break? Gratuitous sex. (Hey, I like gratuitous sex, but that’s what the Internet is for. On the other hand, good sci-fi doesn’t grow on trees.) The whole “Stargate: 90210” thing was probably the least appealing aspect of the show for me, and as they gradually stopped hosing down the sets with testosterone, the series got a lot better. Unfortunately, it may have taken too long for them to settle on getting into the sci-fi and out of the soap opera (for example, the communication-stone-driven crap with Telford sleeping with Young’s wife), and their audience dwindled before they found the right balance.

    It’s for that reason that I still maintain that they should have dropped the communication stones early on. They were a crutch to try to wedge Earthside scenery into the series, and they were used in unrealistic and uncomfortable ways (would anyone really give unlimited consent for someone else to use their body, including possibly contracting an STD, getting pregnant, using drugs, etc.?).

  • “A large percentage of viewers (43 percent) who checked out the 3-hour pilot episode “Air” had tuned out by the first break.”

    I wonder how common that is in the TV industry. Sounds like a really huge, huge figure. The sex scene was before the first break, though, right? That probably turned off a lot of TVs right there, with people not expecting that kind of thing from Stargate. /shrug

  • @Tekrelm

    They don’t mean the first commercial break, they mean the first mid-season break. Air Part 3 actually got MORE viewers than the 2-parter the first week, which rarely happens in TV.

  • Lots of new shows start with a bang, then settle into a regular audience.
    SGU’s problem has been the SyFy channel itself, in that I don’t think it is possible for SyFy to pull 2+ million ratings numbers for a niche product like Science fiction anymore.
    I truly believe that if SGU had been on major networks it would have done considerably better.
    Even “V” and “The Event” have been cancelled with much higher ratings than SGU, even though those shows are no where near the quality of SGU.
    Lets hope somewhere down the track we’ll get a proper conclusion, SGU deserves it.

  • @Imperious

    I wouldn’t hold out hope for a conclusion as the book on quality sci-fi(in this case outer space sci-fi) is closing for good. None of the studios or networks will pay the production cost anymore. Get used to low brow/quality drivel on the tube from now on.
    I just can’t believe that Sy-Fy is putting money behind BSG: Blood & Chrome. There is just no point to it what so ever. All prequal stuff is just garbage. Heck, even Caprica should have just been a mini-series that would have aired right between BSG season 4.0 and 4.5.
    SGU deserved that attention SO much more than blood & chrome.
    But its all over now and that just plain sucks.

  • Hi everyone to be fair i almost didnt give SGU an chance cos it was so different and we were kinda flung into it with new characters plus i was still a bit annoyed at the rather abrupt ending/cancellation of SGA perhaps this is yet another reason why SGU didnt get as many viewers that they would have liked and lets face it if anyone has a few brain cells like me most people are cautious about getting into a new show anyway and like me some will tend to wait until after its had a few seasons and it looks like its gonna stick around i would normally either watch the reruns or get the dvds to catch up like i did with SG1 & SGA but i now regret not doing the same for SGU and until networks STOP CANCELING THEIR SHOWS B4 THEY ARE FINISHED i will now never watch a new show on any network until it has had at least 5-10 seasons but hey i do understand where they are coming from after all it is a business and they do need to earn a living but i cant stress this enuff tv networks need to step out of the limited linear one show at a time box most of us are changing the way we watch tv compared to how we used to watch tv about 10yrs or so ago we now tend to record to dvr or computer or download for later viewing rather than have to sit and watch shows on a strict time schedule and it wont be too long until people are if they are not already watching tv on the go on their ipads or smart phones the viewers are changing they way they watch tv so why are tv networks not changing the way they bring it to us?? dont they realize that everyone would be better off and would make alot more money???
    plz feel free 2 use this in a future article if u like Darren 1 guy that sees the obvious solution wont be able to convince the networks to update the way they bring tv to us but maybe if there is enuff demand for it they will thanks for reading every one :)

  • Also SGU was running at the same time as other big shows.

  • Air Part 3 was a big problem and was the culprit. People tuned in after seeing the promos of epic desert planet and the way Air Part 2 ended hinted at something awesome was about to take place. Instead Air Part 3 was about some random priest abortion thing and having a chemistry set in the desert. it bored the hell out of people. They shouldve introduced the main plot right there, a villain or something cool.

  • @ Duneknight
    there was a bit of a dropoff after Air III, but it’s normal for shows to drop after their pilot episodes. Season 1.0 was actually doing rather well, with almost all episodes 1.8, and most of them closer to 1.9. After “life” aired “Justice” took the fall the week after, losing over half a million viewers in one go, and right after that there was the mid-season hiatus, which in this case prohibited the ratings from rising to their previous level again. People left during Justice, and there wasn’t a show they could maybe try out again for several months, so they just.. sort of.. left. I think if season 1.0 had ended with “Space”, the story would’ve been different.

  • “The network’s attempts to find a new audience on Tuesdays was a failure”
    Yet another snipe at SyFy. How mature.

    “Stargate Universe drew new fans who had never watched Stargate before.”
    There is NO evidence that SGU drew in more new viewers than SG1 and SGA were. Back when SG1 and SGA were airing there were undoubtedly people discovering SG with every episode. Whether they stuck around as fans or not is a different matter. Based on ratings it seems that SGU didn’t manage to create a lot of new fans or hold on to old fans.

  • It never got the chance that s.g.a. Got s.g.a got the run in from s.g.1 which in turn got all the s.g.1 audience.if s.g.a did not get that run in and s.g.1 had have been canceled s.g.a would never have got a second season never mind five. So in conclusion the stargate fans are very fickle and scorn anything new.I on the other hand love true to life sci-fy and know the best show on the idiot box is gone only to be replaced by mind numbing crap and reality shows.does anyone know were I can get a good price for a 50 in HD tv I won’t be needing mine anymore god I hate sy-fail.

  • mistergroenevingers | May 21 @ 9:17 am

    They have tried three of there established franchise on Tuesday or Monday night all 3 have failed to established an audience on those, Sanctuary, SGU, and Caprica.

    Being Human succeeded but look at the Nielson numbers you can see they obtain a difference audience to the above show.

    I think we can safely 3 out of 4 shows is a appalling rate of failure for shows involve with the experiment. An the one that did succeed is not Syfy normal audience.
    An is not even Sci fi. Wrestling is there highest rated show and is not syfy.

    I think anyone looking the Syfy decisions will come to conclusion that its a network that does not know what it want to be or what programmes it wants to show.

    Which given that they underwent a huge re-branding is a rather worrying situation.
    Given Syfy have even starting to defend its decisions in public shows me that even they are worried about the situation the channel is in.

  • The episode that really plumeted SGU was “Life”. People were on edge by the heavy focus on drama in Season 1.0. People got some promising new directions with “Time” (an incredible episode), but we were flung straight back to HEAVY drama in “Life”…

    People left.

    And it’s sad because the show only improved from that point forward. Season 1.5 was more solid than 1.0, Season 2.0 more solid than any of Season 1. And then the final 10 episodes were simply incredible!

    It’s a shame, but there’s much to point the finger at starting with fans, the producers, and the network. I think the network is mostly to blame by their HORRENDOUS attempts at marketing SGU to the WRONG audience… but hey, it’s for the historians to analyze now.

  • actually its important to learn what went wrong so as to not repeat the same mistakes in the next stargate show or movie.

  • @ Duneknight:

    Important lesson #1: Do not announce the new show a couple days after the previous is cancelled. It creates bad-will.

    Originally SGU was supposed to air alongside SGA in the summer. End result: It did not air alongside SGA, and it did not air in the summer.

    Basically not one thing specifically, but everything went wrong. SGU wasn’t aired in the summer, and wasn’t aired alongside SGA, the fanbase was alienated because it seemed SGU replaced SGA, season 1.0 had too much focus on heavy drama ( far, far more than the other 3 halfseasons ), a badly timed long hiatus right after a dropoff of 550.000 viewers, stability is achieved in season 1.5 but no growth, another long hiatus and move to a different night. While it was a nice and honest try of SyFy to get the show to grow the opposite occured, then the show moved to Mondays and the cancellation during the hiatus created a lot of buzzkill for many people who lost interest ( I know someone who was very enthousiastic about SGU, but after cancellation he hasn’t watched the last 10 eps yet because he feared it lacked any form of closure. I think I managed to convince him though because the last 10 are amazing ). Throughout this history the love-hate debate raged on and especially during the first season of SGU every single article, youtube clip etc. about SGU was ablaze with comments like “SGU sucks!”. I think you can still find several hundred of such vids if you look on youtube.

  • Darren

    @mistergroenevingers: It’s not a “swipe” at Syfy to make the observation that the Tuesday strategy didn’t work. Per Craig’s explicit statements, they wanted to expose the show to new viewers in the hope of rejuvenating the slipping ratings. The ratings went down. Ergo, the idea didn’t work.

    “There is NO evidence that SGU drew in more new viewers than SG1 and SGA were.”

    I made no such claim — simply that some people who had never watched any Stargate show before watched Universe. I also said “anecdotally.”

  • Darren

    To clarify: 43% of the audience for “Air, Parts 1-2” had tuned out by the “first mid-season break” — not that episode’s first commercial break. I’ve updated the article above to make that more clear.

  • The simple fact is that the networks are pulling back spending on shows BIG time, so much so they are shooting themselves in the foot and loosing viewership to HBO and starz. Unless the show is a massive hit and stays there they are more likely to kill it than keep it. SGU was the best of all of the stargate shows. Punks ass moves like split seasons and airdate shifts just guarantee things don’t go well. Is there a comparison of available between new format purchases between SGA, SGU, SG1?

  • I have to agree with some comments above. If SGU aired with SGA on Friday nights, things would have been different. SGU was the best int eh whole series. IT could have had a new villain every galaxy. New adventures – new planets nightly. Not the same four memebrs going thru the eye like SG1 and fighting the same life suckers on SGA. I liked them all but SGU was the best by far.
    SYFY’s reasons for killing it like they did prove they wanna compete with the major networks and they must realize they can’t. SYFY has a loyal viewership that they need to keep before the network gets sold again or closed for good.
    We just need to keep bombarding the network (SYFY and MGM) email, snail mail, ect. to get it back. The longer it sits idle – the more likely it will never come back. And the MORE LIKELY I WILL NOT RETURN TO SYFY.
    Bring it back or lose more viewers – Then you can be a full wrestling channel that has cooking shows.

    Everyone needs to get get on the forums on SYFY and express your views there DAILY.


  • They should have left stargate on fridays airing in the summer schedule as it used to.

    The buffons at syfy knew that moving it would cause a viewership drop just as has happened with sactuary. If they didnt know this then others should be running that network.

    Watch or not, Either way your next favorite show will disappear and be replaced with cooking shows or wrestling.

    Boycott syfy and send a message!But most of you wont. Youll just complain to each other and nothing will ever change.

  • The real write-in, email, facebook, twitter, etc. campaign should be to Netflix to pick up the show as part of their new original programming. If a significant portion of the community did so, then they may see the potential for new subscribers. Then, even the tech savy could join the count of viewers as Netflix would be offering online viewing that matters in the decision making process.

    Thoughts Darren?

  • Awsome Bring in those new fans and swap out the tons of old ones who stopped watching because the show stopped being stargate.

    They migh as well just called the show “Rumpelstiltskin gets lost in space with a ring thingy that spins”

    and they still could have got the new people and do what ever they wanted since the show would have no stargate stuff on it.

    They lost the point if they wanted to make a new show they should have just done it with out the stargate name on it.

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