TV ratings: Every fall sci-fi show compared by number of viewers

Each time a new fall TV season rolls around, we take a look at the latest batch of sci-fi series and try to figure out which shows are the winners and which the losers. So we've gathered the ratings for the 2009 television season, listing the shows by number of viewers from most to least.

But remember—numbers aren't everything. ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox need more live viewers than The CW and Syfy for their shows to be considered successful.

And if you're worried about your favorite show, watch it live and watch the commercials. Those initial ratings are still the most important, although terms like "time shift," "DVR +7" and "7 day viewing" are becoming a fact of life we're going to want to embrace, because they're going to keep some of our shows alive.

FlashForward (ABC)

Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 8.98 million viewers

FlashForward is the closest thing we have to a hit (along with Vampire Dairies) on network TV these days. While this week's ratings were affected by baseball, for the most part the ratings have stabilized after initially dropping, and strong DVR +7 numbers add close to 2 million additional viewers to the show's ratings. If FlashForward stays strong dramatically it has the potential to be the next Lost. ABC feels good enough about the series that it's extended the show's episode commitment to 25.

Ghost Whisperer (CBS)

Fridays at 8 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 8.28 million viewers

Fridays have been tough this fall, even for veteran Ghost Whisperer, which still manages to win the night. Still, CBS has big expectations, and these winning ratings may not be good enough for CBS after this year, even with the time shift putting ratings up over 1 million additional viewers. CBS may decide it's time to put one of their stronger shows on Friday and revamp their entire schedule next season, especially since it's been reported that this is NUMB3RS' last year.

Medium (CBS)

Fridays at 9 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 7.69 million viewers

The good news is that CBS finally found a show that works between Ghost Whisperer and NUMB3RS. Ratings out of Ghost Whisperer are about as good as could be expected, with live ratings and DVR +7 picking up most of Ghost Whisperer's audience. It's great to see Medium finally find a home.

Fringe (Fox)

Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET
Ratings before baseball: 5.96 million viewers

Fox took a big risk in placing Fringe on Thursdays opposite big guns CSI and Grey's Anatomy, and the series has definitely taken a hit. Still, Fringe is one of the top shows to gain time shift viewers (to the tune of about 2 million a week), and Thursdays has always been a trouble spot for Fox unless there was an American Idol to boost it up. However, Fringe is positively a hit compared to last year's Hole in the Wall and Kitchen Nightmares. The series has a 22-episode order, and it may well find itself in the position of the CW's Supernatural... doing the best the network can hope for in a terrible, terrible timeslot.

Heroes (NBC)

Mondays at 8 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 5.86 million viewers

The good news is that Heroes isn't NBC's biggest problem (that'd be Leno). However, even with decent time-shift ratings that add another 1.5 million viewers or so, the ratings aren't good. And it's hard to forget that Heroes' first season averaged nearly 14 million viewers. NBC will certainly air Heroes' 19 episodes, which will complete this year's volume, "Redemption." After that, depending on how the chips fall, it just might be the end of our Heroes.

Eastwick (ABC)

Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 5.06 million viewers

Eastwick seemed to have some good things going for it. The series is on Wednesdays, rather than on Thursdays or Fridays with most of the rest of our shows. It has three strong actresses and a fun premise. And ABC is calling the show a "quiet success." But the series hasn't caught on, and these days it isn't even beating out NBC's Leno. While Eastwick won't be the first series canceled (that honor goes to The Beautiful Life), it's one of ABC's biggest problems.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW)

Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET
Ratings two weeks ago: 4.19 million viewers

The CW's smartest decision this season was to pick up The Vampire Diaries. The DVR +7 ratings bring the series up to over 5 million viewers, many of them female in the CW's prime demographic. All things considered, this is a huge hit for the CW, and with Twilight fever about to hit in the form of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on Nov. 20, things should only get brighter for The Vampire Diaries.

Supernatural (The CW)

Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET
Ratings two weeks ago: 2.88 million viewers

Supernatural continues to maintain a consistent audience, and it does well with the time-shift numbers. Add to that a small lift in female viewership thanks to CW's new hit, The Vampire Dairies, and things are looking okay for Supernatural. Considering the show's overly competitive timeslot opposite Fringe, CSI AND Grey's Anatomy, it's amazing anybody's left to tune in. However, Supernatural viewers are loyal to their series.

Smallville (The CW)

Fridays at 8 p.m. ET
Last week's ratings: 2.60 million viewers

While ratings aren't as bad as they seem with the series getting a decent DVR boost, the move to Fridays has been a tough one for Smallville. While the producers would be thrilled to have a 10th season, if it is the last year, nine seasons ain't bad.

SGU: Stargate Universe (Syfy)

Fridays at 9 p.m. ET
Ratings from week two: 2.4 million viewers

Stargate Universe has been beating Fox's Dollhouse in the ratings some weeks, and they're not shy about saying so. The time-shift numbers are excellent, too, and Syfy considers this new Stargate one of its hits. However, the series is headed toward a big hiatus after episode 10, and it won't return until spring.

Dollhouse (Fox)

Fridays at 9 p.m. ET
Ratings two weeks ago: 2.15 million viewers

Even fans were shocked when Fox decided to pick up Dollhouse for a second season. The good news is that Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman has said that all 13 episodes of Dollhouse's second season will air. The bad news is that the ratings for Dollhouse have been so bad, even with the time-shift viewing, that Fox has decided to pull the series (along with the rest of their Friday lineup) for November sweeps. The series is scheduled to return Dec. 4, with two episodes airing each Friday. That doesn't bode well for a third season of the Joss Whedon series, but at least this won't be another Firefly.

Sanctuary (Syfy)

Fridays at 10 p.m. ET
Season premiere ratings: nearly 1.9 million viewers

While this isn't Syfy's biggest hit, Sanctuary is very compatible with Stargate Universe, and it's also doing well when it comes to the time-shift audience. That isn't bad for a series that once only lived on the Web and is still mostly virtual.

What's your take on the new season?

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