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'Utopia' ratings drop again: How long will it last?

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UTOPIA

The fall season hasn’t even officially started, and already one heavily-hyped show is looking like a bomb: Fox’s Utopia continued its ratings slide during its Friday night premiere. The reality experiment fell to 2 million viewers and a 0.7 rating among adults 18-49.

Here is the Utopia trend so far: 2.0 demo rating for its Sunday NFL-fueled debut, down to 0.9 for its regular Tuesday time slot premiere, and now 0.7 for its Friday opener. (Utopia will regularly air twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays.)

Since new shows typically drop in the ratings for each of their first three epiosdes (at least), and since each of Utopia‘s time slots has been subsequently weaker, one would have expected each of these episodes to go down. Yet Sunday’s opening number was a disappointment—and the extant of that Tuesday drop was alarming. So now even a little erosion on Friday, expected or no, results in numbers that are deep into the cancellation red zone. Utopia was beaten, for instance, by a repeat of ABC’s Last Man Standing (4.5 million, 0.9).

Two questions:

1. Will Utopia‘s ratings improve? This is pretty much the bottom for a Big 4 broadcast network show. The only way Utopia can survive long-term is to improve notably. Falling any further is possible too, though it’s tough to imagine Fox letting any of its time slot get much worse than this.

2. If not, how long will Utopia last? One suspects Fox wants to wait at least until its baseball coverage starts in late October. The sports coverage is always disruptive to the network’s lineup anyway, and it’s a natural time to hit the reset button. But if Utopia continues on its current path, the network could figure even repeats might perform better.

One thing’s for sure: The fall season starts in less than two weeks. Rivals are readying to launch all their new shows. Utopia‘s job isn’t going to get any easier.

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