Captain Ed Mercer and the crew of The Orville could be in trouble if its season 2 ratings are any indication: The Orville’s season 2 premiere ratings were lower than its season 1 premiere and have since dropped more to hit a series low. The series debuted in 2017, the brainchild of funnyman Seth MacFarlane, who also stars on the series. The first episode garnered the interest of sci-fi fans who made it the biggest premiere for Fox since Empire.
The series follows a ragtag spaceship crew led by Mercer (MacFarlane), along with his first officer and ex-wife Commander Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki). Much like the Enterprise of Star Trek fame, the spaceship called The Orville has a mission to explore the universe, as well as participate in various diplomatic missions. Because MacFarlane is such a massive Star Trek fan, the series itself acts as a funny love letter to Trek, with many fans admitting to preferring The Orville over Star Trek: Discovery. The series quickly got a second season order from Fox, with the first episode of the new season airing in late December 2018.
The ratings for The Orville, though, aren’t as good in its second season. According to CancelledSciFi.com, the first episode of season 1 had 5.7 million total people in the 18-49 age demographic watching. That was down from its first season premiere, but this is still considered a good show for what was considered a slow TV viewing week. The subsequent episode dropped to a total of 2.8 million viewers, though, a series low, putting it on the list of Fox’s lowest rated shows. However, The Orville did well with delayed viewing, which isn’t indicated by its live viewership numbers.
So what does this mean for the series? Television networks still focus most of their attention on live viewership, even in a world where Netflix is more popular than broadcast cable. TV viewers don’t watch live TV as much as they did in the past, and with the rising popularity of streaming services, live television viewing will likely continue to decline. Perhaps this is why CBS is considering whether to continue to use Nielsen for TV ratings data as the network felt that the traditional Nielsen standard could not provide the data it needed to measure today’s audiences accurately.
Fox is notorious for canceling series that have passionate fan bases but don’t meet the live viewership ratings marks. This ratings drop could signal that The Orville might end up on the chopping block, although one can only hope that Netflix, Amazon or Hulu would consider picking it up.