“Utopia” continues proving to be anything but for Fox, even as network executives have promised patience with the reality series slated to run for a full year. Can it possibly last that long, though, after ratings slipped below 2 million viewers for the Friday installment of its premiere week launch.
Fridays have become known for lower ratings, so the drop itself is not a surprise, but the size of it could be problematic for the ongoing series. “Utopia” drew 1.98 million viewers, gaining a paltry 0.7 rating among viewers in the advertisers preferred 18-49 year-old demographic.
“Utopia” is slated to air on Fridays over the next six weeks, alongside the launch of Fox’s fall season. Much of Fox’s programming takes a break in mid to late October as the baseball postseason begins to take over its airwaves.
For perspective, “Utopia” fell behind repeats of “Last Man Standing” on ABC and tied a repeat of “Running With with Bear Grylls” on NBC in the demo, while lagging behind it by more than 1 million total viewers.
At least it’s not all bad news for Fox. The network touted the Live+3 Day ratings for Sunday’s premiere, and the reality-non-competition saw a solid 20 percent increase in the 18-49 demo rating. Total viewers rose from 4.63 million to 5.53 million.
Those are solid numbers, but the initial boost was thanks to a hefty football lead-in. With its second installment on Tuesday, the show dropped to 2.48 million viewers, scoring a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demo.
Now past its Sunday premiere, “Utopia” will be settling into a regular Tuesday and Friday schedule, which means no more football boosts. The upcoming week will tell the real picture, though, as it’s impossible to make real ratings comparisons across different nights. Add to that the football influence on Sunday and Friday’s traditional lower ratings, and it just isn’t possible to paint a clear picture yet as to how well “Utopia” is being received by viewers.
Fox Television Group co-CEO Dana Walden promised that the network intends to have patience with the social experiment, suggesting that maybe it was a bit early to launch a fall show. The coming weeks will tell if that’s the case.
Plus, as the participants are actively building their society 24/7 — which really means that they’re just doing a lot of fighting, frolicking and getting frisky, according to the show’s live feeds — there’s nothing to say that Fox couldn’t try the show on different nights at different times to see what might stick. The network has put a lot of money into the show, so it won’t make any decision to pull the plug lightly.
Fox’s “Utopia” continues on Tuesdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. ET.