Battlestar Struggles in Sunday Debut

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Battlestar Galactica’s jump to Sundays wasn’t all that smooth from a ratings standpoint.

The first of 10 episodes from the popular Sci Fi Channel series’ third season debuted Jan. 21 to a lukewarm 1.4 household rating/1.8 million viewers, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

That’s below the 1.9 rating/2.1 million viewers the show averaged during the second half of its sophomore season from January-March 2006, when it aired on Friday nights, along with lead-in series StargateAtlantis and Stargate SG-1.

The first 10 episodes of the series’ third season averaged a 1.4 rating Friday nights without the strong lead-infrom the two Stargate series. Battlestar’s current lead-in -- freshman supernatural crime dramedy The Dresden Files -- also drew a 1.4 rating.

Battlestar and Dresden faced stiff competition Sunday, particularly from CBS’ Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots National Football League American Football Conference championship game, which drew 46.7 million viewers -- the best performance for the pigskin playoff game in 20 years.

Despite the ratings falloff, the network said Battlestar was the No. 1 basic-cable entertainment program for the day among viewers 18-49 and 25-54. It also increased its viewership among those two demos by 60% and 18%, respectively, compared with its Dec. 15 finale.

In addition, Battlestar and Dresden Files combined were the top-rated shows in cable Sunday from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. among the network’s target 18-49 demo with a 1.3 household average. It was Sci Fi’s best performance among the 18-49 demo in the time period since May 2005 (Jurassic Park).

Sci Fi sister service USA Network fared better with returning series Monk and PsychFriday. The Jan. 19 debut of Monk’sfifth seasonand Psych’s sophomore campaign averaged 3.9 and 2.9 household ratings, respectively, to finish among the top-20-rated shows of the week.

Although Psych’s numbers were down considerably from its July 7 freshman-season premiere, which drew a 4.5 rating, it was enough to help propel USA to a 2.2 primetime rating for the week and a first-place finish in the weekly network primetime-ratings race.

Disney Channel -- on the strength of repeat airings of original movies High School Musical and Jump In!, as well as a new That’s So Raven episode -- finished second with a 2.1 rating, followed by TNT’s 1.6.

AMC’s Jan. 20 airing of 1970s Robert Redford Western flick Jeremiah Johnson helped the network to a rare top-10 spot in the primetime network weekly listings.

AMC’s 35th-anniversary airing of the movie garnered 4 million viewers and a 3.1 household rating -- the fourth highest ever for the service -- and helped to propel it to a 1.3 weekly ratings tie with A&E Network, Hallmark Channel, Nick at Nite and Fox News Channel for fourth place, according to Nielsen.

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