The Sci-Fi channel’s critical success Battlestar Galactica has at times struggled to maintain its viewership. While nearly all reviews and opinions of the show through its first three seasons are positive, the science fiction remake has still been slated to come to a conclusion at the end of season 4. Nearly all serial television shows that have viewership problems decline until they disappear as it becomes an uphill battle to draw viewers into an established show where a long series of complex events have already developed. Jumping into the middle of season 2 would undoubtedly leave the viewer scratching their head over the complex character interactions.
But in the face of all this, hope. Recent ratings studies show Battlestar Galactica gaining viewers, despite several factors stacked against them. For starters, the show has been moved from Sunday to Friday, a night where people traditionally watch less television. The show is partway into its fourth season – intimidating to new viewers. The fourth season has also, like much of the series, continued taking risks and unexpected twists and turns, which has frustrated some existing viewers.
Yet the show has garnered an additional 4% of the male aged 18-49 demographic, the most sought after in television. This translates into about 1.4million viewers every week. One cool statistic focuses on only those with a week long DVR capability (the ability to record the show and watch it later); in such cases the show is up 18%. The total viewership for each episode is up around an impressive 2.1 million.
This has many scratching their heads and wondering why. What has Battlestar Galactica tapped into that makes people flock to it now? Well any visitor to the Film School Rejects site may have noticed that our coverage of that show has increased; our interest is growing with the home audience. In fact, that show alone was one of the biggest driving factors in the acceleration of the TV for Movie Lovers launch. The reason is simple – this show is good. For whatever reason, there was some hesitation on a lot of peoples parts before watching this show, but those who do end up engrossed in it. The increased number of homes with DVR or On-Demand capabilities has undoubtedly allowed more people to play catch up with the series, but the relative speed in which TV shows appear on DVD gives everyone the opportunity to be on board since day one. There have also been reports of a steady movement of viewers from basic broadcast viewing to cable networks, many of which, including Sci-Fi, FX, and USA, have all increased their ratings over the past years.
Personally I hadn’t seen a single episode, nor was I interested in it, but at the insistence of a friend, I started with the initial mini-series, which comes on the season 1 DVD set. Before I knew it I was knee deep in season 2 and found myself purchasing season 3 because hey, I knew I was going to need it. Battlestar, though I felt it started slow, finishes every season very strongly and keeps you interested in the inner workings of the fleet.
What makes a show generate new ratings? Word of mouth. Advertising. Friend recommendations. That’s pretty much it and in this case, it’s probably word of mouth. The advertising for Battlestar Galactica has seemingly increased during season 4, though it flaunts some of the more complex aspects of the show; who will turn out to be Cylon and who can be trusted. So it must be friends telling friends – and that’s how its been spreading across Film School Rejects. Just over the past few weeks, several of us here have really gotten into the show.
For those of you not in the know, Battlestar Galactica follows the survivors of a colossal and devastating attack against the Twelve Colonies (12 planets) of humanity by the Cylons. These bad ass robots are no longer the clunky toasters, but have evolved over time into taller, leaner, fierce killing machines paired with human looking variants, able to infiltrate any group. Our heroes include Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos), President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), Captain Adama (Jamie Bamber), ace pilot Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), the eccentric genius Gaius Baltar (James Callis, my favorite), the uber-hottie Number 6 (Tricia Helfer) and a wide variety of other bad asses and hot chicks. We also get a recurring character from the original Battlestar Galactica in Richard Hatch, who played the [original role of Apollo.] He returns to the series as Tom Zarek, an enigmatic activist turned politician.
Really delving into this show would take pages, but if you’re interested in any of the following, tune in: science fiction, space battles, hot chicks, guns, star fighters, space, robots, traitors, sex scenes, politics. No matter what the episode entails, they’re very often very good. Some episodes lack a space battle, but the internal tensions are ratcheted up to 11 and to make up for it, some adventures involve massive fighter battles or several capital ship battles. Nice.
This ratings boost may help some when it comes time to make the Battlestar Galactica films. Or, more accurately, when the decision comes to make the films. This is no doubt good news for the producers and the Sci-Fi channel and could be the deciding factor in terms of how much money and time to invest in the furthering of the series. If the audience keeps growing, the stars are not just the limit, they’re the set piece.