This week's ratings are in, and on the surface things don't look great for News Corp's (NASDAQ:NWS) Almost Human.
While the new futuristic cop drama was the highest rated show on Fox Monday evening, it still only mustered 5.79 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. That's down two tenths from last week's 1.9, and the series' lowest rating to date.
Meanwhile, and as per usual, NBC's The Voice garnered a solid 3.5 rating with 12.4 million live viewers, and CBS' (NYSE:CBS) How I Met Your Mother grabbed a 2.9 as 7.91 million tuned in.
Heck, Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC even managed to best Almost Human during the same hour, thanks to its annual encore of 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas, which earned a 1.9 rating with an audience of 7.1 million -- an impressive 12% increase over last year's viewership.
Now there's nothing wrong with Disney's rebroadcasting a perennial holiday classic, but it seems telling that over 2.1 million more people would rather dedicate their time to watching a 48-year-old cartoon than catching the latest episode of a brand-new crime drama with state-of-the-art special effects.
Why News Corp should be pleased
But does that mean Fox and News Corp are ready to place Almost Human on the chopping block? Not necessarily.
Remember, the live plus same-day performance of Almost Human's pilot episode was already impressive, pulling in nearly 9.2 million viewers for a 3.1 rating. That episode got a significant bump in viewership thanks to the fact that it immediately followed Fox's Sunday Night Football presentation.
Fox then unveiled the second episode the very next day during the series' regular Monday night time slot -- an hour it inherited from Fox's Bones, mind you -- drawing 6.6 million total viewers and a 2.3 rating. In short, this gives us a much more appropriate yardstick with which to measure the performance of Almost Human's subsequent episodes, which haven't fallen nearly as hard as a comparison with its Sunday night debut would otherwise indicate.
What's more, though Almost Human's second episode pulled in 0.8 million less viewers than Bones last did in the same time slot, it still managed to beat Bones' most recent Monday night showing by 0.3 ratings points. This indicates Almost Human's viewership is comprised of a more valuable group with which Fox should be able to lure advertisers.
Finally, it's also no mystery households are increasingly viewing shows on their own timetables, thanks both to ever-increasing DVR penetration as well as today's unprecedented flexibility afforded by watching online. As a result, to gain better perspective for newer shows like Almost Human, it's also helpful to keep in mind not only the live plus same-day viewership, but also the live plus 7-day ratings.
Luckily for News Corp, Almost Human appears to be stacking up fairly well so far given its first official live plus 7-day figures released Tuesday. Thanks to DVR playback in its first seven days, Almost Human's debut episode was watched by another 3.4 million people, helping it gain 1.4 points in the 18-49 demo and good for a 45% boost to a final 4.5 rating.
To be sure, that ratings gain on a percentage basis wasn't particularly outstanding given the debut episode's already large number of viewers. On an absolute basis, however, Almost Human's first live plus 7-day ratings boost ranked higher than any other show that night.
In any case, I'll be sure to continue touching base to see how Almost Human's post-launch numbers pan out going forward. At this point, however, I think it's premature to say News Corp's newest series is already failing.
Fool contributor Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.