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    ‘Battlestar’s’ Slip

    By James Hibberd

    In the weeks leading up to “Battlestar Galactica’s” third-season premiere, the debut seemed like a slam dunk to set Sci Fi Channel records.

    Story continues below…
    Shepherded by Sci Fi President Bonnie Hammer, the show has been hailed as a darkly sophisticated remake of the campy and short-lived 1978 original series. The first 12-episode season averaged 2 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 20-episode second season, despite being divided between the summer of 2005 and spring of 2006, performed even better-averaging 2.3 million.

    Sci Fi was so confident in the show’s success, the network scheduled the third season to debut Oct. 5, right in the middle of the broadcast fall season’s premiere bombardment.

    At first, “Battlestar” seemed to hold its own against the broadcast hype. Advance review copies of the first four episodes generated an unprecedented amount of preseason publicity, especially for a basic cable program. On Metacritic, a Web site that tracks reviews, “Battlestar’s” third-season premiere was averaging a score of 94 out of 100 points, behind only HBO’s “The Wire.” “Battlestar” even made the cover of Entertainment Weekly, a Sci Fi Channel first.

    Then came the ratings.

    The third-season debut was down 29 percent among total viewers compared with the season-two debut in July 2005. Viewership for the first four episodes of the new season is down 20 percent compared with the first few episodes of season two.

    A likely culprit for the decline of “Battlestar” was the start of the broadcast season Sept. 19. After experimenting for a few years with rolling shows out more sporadically, this year broadcasters came out guns blazing during an intense, short period with a barrage of shows, many of which were lavish serialized action-dramas-just like “Battlestar.” Making matters more interesting: Two of the season’s breakout dramas, NBC’s “Heroes” and CBS’s “Jericho,” have sci-fi themes.

    Cable networks traditionally don’t run original dramas in fall out of fear of getting trounced. In recent years cable networks have become bolder in scheduling their strongest programs against broadcast competition.

    Sci Fi Channel’s other current drama, the freshman series “Eureka,” also took a fall. The show debuted in July and was averaging 2.8 million viewers for nine weeks, then dropped an average 30 percent to 1.9 million viewers for the most recent four episodes.

    The lesson: Fall is still the domain of broadcast.

    “It’s a mistake to premiere shows against network premieres,” said Tim Brooks, TV historian and Lifetime’s executive VP of research. “The fact that all the broadcast networks premiere their shows against each other is the greatest gift broadcast has ever given to cable. Why would any cable network fly straight into that?”

    Sci Fi executives declined to comment. A network spokesperson noted that due to “Battlestar” the channel is having its best October ever.

    Ironically, going into the fall season, “Battlestar” had a higher awareness than “Heroes,” media consultant Rusty Mintz said.

    Sci Fi Channel even helped build interest in the NBC show by airing “Heroes” episodes as part of NBC Universal’s cross-platform strategy.

    “Hindsight is always 20/20, and clearly in their minds there was a sound logical strategy for diverging from prior rollouts,” Mr. Mintz said. “In this case, whether it’s hubris or boldness, however you want to define it, it’s understandable and essential to keep on pushing in order to compete in a nonlinear world.”

    This year, not only “Eureka” but Lifetime’s “Angela’s Eyes,” which also debuted in July, saw a sharp average decline once the broadcast networks started rolling out their new season lineups. “Angela’s” averaged 2 million viewers in its first nine episodes, then dropped an average of 41 percent since the start of the broadcast season.

    Still, the news hasn’t been all cable carnage and is not likely to ward off completely cable premieres in the fall.

    VH1’s reality show “The Flavor of Love” is thriving. And FX’s “Nip/Tuck,” which premiered Sept. 5, is enjoying a comeback. The show is up 7 percent among total viewers and 6 percent among adults 18 to 49 compared to season three.

    “Everybody here was worried when we decided to debut `Nip’ in the fall; it’s always a risk,” said FX spokesman John Solberg. “But the show has survived and grown.”

    mandara k

    So the spin is the time they decided to start the season? Ummm… not entirely. If, like me, you did your civic duty and voted you see that the American people want change. This show is heavily military and heavily political. A change in status quo is the change in this popular ideal of story arcs.

    A lot of response to anything different; like the Hybrid, yeah of course because in these arcs they fall back on, were and are, overused and there are ideas that do create interest but they are rushed through on a conveyer belt.

    They reached a comfort level of writing and do not want to stray from it. Huge mistake.

    20% is a drop boys and girls; no matter how Skiffy spins that sucka.

    You see, common people can have a voice, if we stick together; no matter what those suits say or those with a vested interest in the show whom to me are worse than bean counters at a network.

    You may say that posting on a board means nothing to you as a network or a producer but at some time, when the chips are down you will cater to fans and eat your words…

    Or you’ll have to find another show.

    Take the blinders off, and truly look at what’s going on right in front of you.

    It may be the best OCT Skiffy ever had, well look at their programming history; how much better does it have to be to beat out Killer Bees. 🙄 😆

    Now I’m going back to election results and reading a good book.

    And um, the new spin-off, think about what you have made before you make something totally different; you’ll have to put in the religious part of this and daily life should be interesting enough to set it apart from Eureka. You don’t want 2 of those, do you?

    I’d give you some tips but it’s all about you Dowl 🙄 ,

    subconscious my arse, you couldn’t tap your subconscious with hammer! Why? Surburban…. comfortable…. and a killer of your own truth-seeking; well with some help from others in your environs.

    That’s enough…. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

    Dowl, hon, just make you know some top notch physicians (surgeons)and centers for treatment of rare oncological disorders, you or some one you know will need this info sooner than later.
    And save your cash, you’ll need it.

    Sorry, about that bonnee….

    Are ya going to do Hero casting? C’mon! Do it!


    Assuming the planets are in alignment mandara, I hope to be able to contribute in some way…just not sure I can be present and accounted for when everyone else is.

    A shame so few people post anymore – i remember a time when it was a hive of activity.


    I’d post more, but I have difficulty following the flow of the discussions/ threads here even with this limited amount of activity.

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