Leading up to the premiere of Fringe, Fox seemed to put nearly all of its fall marketing dollars into J.J. Abrams’ risky sci-fi show. Along with The CW’s 90210 (also airing on Tuesday nights), it was one of the season’s most-hyped new bows. So did it pay off in the ratings last night? Well…sorta. Over its 90-minute premiere, Fringe averaged 9 million viewers, according to overnight ratings. Not too shabby, for sure, but the suits over at Fox probably aren’t dancing in their offices today, either. A double-digit premiere would have been much more stir-worthy. To the show’s credit, though, it did improve on its audience every half hour, which is a good sign (because it means viewers weren’t getting bored and tuning out), but the real test is still yet to come. Will fans be compelled to come back for the next installment? Will Fox juggernaut House give it a boost? What happens in two weeks when ABC’s Dancing With the Stars results show and CBS’s The Mentalist debut? (To weigh in on the Fringe series premiere, head over to PopWatch.
Tuesday night’s other big story brings us back to 90210. The second episode drew just 3.3 million viewers — down a startling 30 percent from its 4.7 million debut last week. Most shows drop off a bit after their premieres, but anything beyond 10 or 15 percent is cause for serious concern. Maybe fans weren’t as excited by the return of Jackie Taylor (Ann Gillespie) this week as they were by Brenda Walsh (Shannon Doherty) last week?
Last night, The CW also premiered another series focused on the young, rich, and fabulous: Privileged, starring Reba cutie JoAnna Garcia as the new tutor to two Palm Beach snobs. The debut drew a CW-appropriate 2.9 million viewers, shedding just 12 percent of 90210’s diminishing audience. Looking back at last year, though, Privileged’s numbers are an improvement on the former holder of the Tuesday-at-9 p.m. timeslot, Reaper, which averaged only 2.3 million viewers. (Reaper returns midseason in a TBD spot.) However, as the rest of the networks premiere their full slates and certain shows break out or fizzle, we’ll be looking at a vastly different landscape in the next few weeks. So the moral of this story? Stay tuned.