Things were smoldering on Utopia (0.5/2) last night, and not just because of the heat wave that pummeled Southern California the last two weeks. Relationships, politics, shorty shorts and a move from 8 PM to 9 PM aside, the second Friday broadcast of the highly hyped Fox social experiment was down 28 % among adults 18-49 from the low of last week’s 0.7/3. Viewershipwise Utopia had 1.54 million watching last night. That’s 22% less than the 1.98 million that last Friday’s 1-hour show had.
Sharing the 9 PM time slot and running to 11 PM, a new Dateline (1.2/5) soundly beat Utopia by 140% among the 18-49s. Compared to last week, the NBC news mag dipped 7%. In fact, Utopia came last in its time slot among the Big 4 behind Dateline and a repeat of Shark Tank (1.1/4) and an encore of Hawaii Five-O (0.8/3) – which may be an ominous warning for what will happen when new shows start hitting the air on Fridays.
Of course Fridays are a hard night with viewership lower than the rest of the week but last night’s results can’t bode well in the Fox executive offices for the consistently struggling twice a week reality show. Compared to the 1.0/3 of its most recent airing on September 16, last night’s Utopia was fell a hard 50%. That Tuesday broadcast was actually the first time Utopia had seen a ratings rise since its September 7 debut, which got a 2.0/6. With numbers like this, the question of whether Utopia will keep grinding away or will the beginning of baseball on Fox in October provide the network with a perfect plug puller is getting all the more poignant.
On the flipside, unlike most reality series, Utopia has seen a good digital afterlife – at least for its first two shows. Live + 3 ratings for the Utopia’s debut saw a 20% rise in the key demo and the first Tuesday airing of the show jumped up 56%.
Other than Utopia, there was really only a spattering of more reality TV and news magazine shows on last night. Appearing on Friday for the first time, a special Big Brother (1.6/7) weaved together head of household competition and recapped the season so far. Leading up to its Season 16 September 24 finale, the special had 5.23 million viewers. On NBC at 8 PM there was another reality special with an edited version of the September 18 The Biggest Loser (0.7/3). In the same time slot, the CW’s Masters of Illusion (0.4/2) was even with last week. A new 20/20 (0.9/3) on ABC at 10 PM was also even from its September 12 show. NBC and CBS tied for the top spot among adults 18-49 with a 1.0/4 rating with the latter winning viewers with 5.37 million watching.
BTW – If you wonder why fast nationals were delayed today it’s because Nielsen were doing a planned system check.