Colts Beat Patriots; Game Beats Galactica

Captain William Adama has successfully fought off numerous cylon attacks on Batttlestar Galactica. But last Sunday, he couldn’t defend his position against the blitz of the National Football League.

The popular Sci Fi Channel skein’s maiden voyage to Sunday nights took a viewership hit from CBS’ New England Patriots-Indianapolis Colts American Football Conference championship game, which drew 46 million viewers -- the game’s best performance in more than two decades.

The 1.4 rating for the third-year show’s Jan. 21 midseason debut -- the first of 10 episodes -- matched the average for the season’s initial 10 installments, which ran Fridays last October-December. But it was below the 1.9 rating/2.1 million viewers the show averaged during the second half of its sophomore season from January-March 2006.

"We took a risk and rolled the dice [going up against football] and lost," Sci Fi executive vice president and general manager David Howe said. "Nevertheless, I was incredibly impressed by how Battlestar held up."

Indeed, Sci Fi executives said Battlestar was the No. 1 basic-cable entertainment program for the day among viewers 18-49 and 25-54 despite competition from the game. The show also increased its viewership among those two demos by 60% and 18%, respectively, compared with its Dec. 15 finale.

In addition, Battlestar-- along with its lead-in, freshman dramedy series The Dresden Files, which also posted a 1.4 rating -- combined to post the top ratings performance on cable 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 that group in the time period since May 2005 (Jurassic Park).

Howe said he expects ratings for both Battlestar and Dresden Files to increase over the next few weeks, sans any competition again posting a 40 share against the block. But just to be on the safe side, the network isn’t running original episodes from either series Feb. 4 -- that’s the night another little game, the Super Bowl, will play out on CBS.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.