Ratings: ‘V’ Comes Down to Earth

ABC’s well-regarded sci-fi drama loses nearly one-third of its massive premiere audience. It’s still a hit.

Last Updated: November 11, 2009 @ 2:51 PM

The second episode of ABC’s "V" came in on the low end of ratings expectations Tuesday, but still managed to finish a strong second at 8 p.m. while improving ABC’s performance in the timeslot by 76 percent vs. last fall.

That’s the good news.

The downside is that "V" (3.7/10 in adults 18-49, 10.1 million viewers) also tumbled 29 percent week-to-week in the demo, an unusually — almost unbelievably– large decline for a freshman show, particularly one with such solid critical response.

The "V" numbers come just a day after Daily Variety reported that Nielsen processing issues have resulted in ABC being available in 1 percent fewer homes, at least according to the ratings monopoly. ABC insiders have also been flummoxed by weird variances in its numbers all season long, with shows such as "Cougar Town" and "Flash Forward" taking some unusually wild swings.

Industry insiders point out that big drop-offs for sci-fi shows aren’t uncommon. In 2007, "Bionic Woman" declined 28 percent from its monster premiere (and was quickly cancelled).

But that series was seen as a disaster from the start, which critics and the sci-fi elite mostly panning the show. "V," as noted before, had solid reviews, particularly for a sci-fi show.

If "V" stabilizes next week, it will still rank as a big success for ABC. Because of production issues, however, the show will go off the air in two weeks and isn’t slated to return until March, meaning ABC will have to relaunch it with viewers.

Elsewhere in the ratings, the "V" slide allowed CBS’s sturdy "NCIS" to maintain its traditional perch as the top-rated show in viewers (20.2 million) and return to supremacy among adults 18-49 (4.2/11). It was, however, the lowest-rated "NCIS" of the season.

"V," plus a visit from Susan Boyle, helped ABC’s 9 p.m. "Dancing with the Stars" (3.4/9) improve 10 percent vs. last week. It was a season high for the results show. "NCIS: Cool J" over on CBS still won the slot in viewers, while NBC’s second hour of "The Biggest Loser" dominated among adults 18-49.

Over at the CW, "90210" had its second-best performance this season in adults 18-34 (1.6/5), up 7 percent vs. last week. By contrast, "Melrose Place" continued to struggle, averaging a 0.8/2 in the superyoung demo.