While returning series Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me have posted better-than-expected ratings performances for FX, rookie war drama Over There and two comedy entrants have underperformed and are in jeopardy of cancellation, president and general manager John Landgraf said last week on the heels of Nip/Tuck’s sizzling third-season debut.
Nip/Tuck’s Sept. 20 premiere set a viewership record for FX, posting 5.3 million watchers and a 4.4 household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
The show also drew the highest number of viewers among adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 (3.5 million) of any show on cable — basic or premium — in 2005, according to Landgraf.
“The biggest risk the network took this year was the decision to take our strongest show from a ratings standpoint and put it in the heart of the broadcast premiere week,” he said. “But it performed better than our wildest dreams in a very competitive and difficult environment.”
Other, newer drama and comedy series on FX, despite some critical praise, haven’t fared nearly as well.
Nine episodes into its freshman run, Over There has averaged a 1.9 household rating, but has declined precipitously since the 3.2 it posted for its July 27 debut. The 1.3 mark on Sept. 21 was the lowest to date. With four episodes left, Landgraf would not guarantee a sophomore season for the show.
“We couldn’t be more proud of it, but we’re disappointed in the ratings,” he said. “We knew going in that it was a risky proposition.”
Landgraf also would not rubber-stamp a return for two summer comedies, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Starved.
Over their six-week summer run, which began Aug. 4, Sunny, about several friends who run a bar, averaged a 0.95 rating and Starved, which follows four Brooklynites who suffer from various kinds of eating disorders, averaged a 0.92.
“We’re mildly disappointed in the ratings of the comedies,” Landgraf said. “It’s more likely that we’ll bring just one of them back,” although he would not handicap the most likely to return.
Prior to Landgraf’s ascension, FX’s second original series (after The Shield), the half-hour comedy Lucky, with John Corbett, also failed to find an audience and only lasted one season. The next original to join FX was Nip/Tuck.
The Fox Cable Networks Group-owned service has renewed Denis Leary drama Rescue Me, which closed its second season Sept. 13 with 3.6 million viewers, the highest mark since its premiere — and documentarian Morgan Spurlock’s new reality skein 30 Days, which averaged a 1.2 rating over six installments.
With a fifth season of The Shield slated for January, new drama Thief scheduled for a first-quarter debut and next summer marking the fourth-season bow of Nip/Tuck, FX remains on course to accomplish its original programming goals, Landgraf said. “We have more than 52 weeks of original programming in a single time slot, and more than half the year we have more than one night of original programming.”