Will Fringe and Supernatural Kill Each Other?

By Tim Surette

Feb 04, 2011

It's like deciding between a scoop of mint chocolate chip and a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough. It's like being forced to give up either your favorite pair of comfy sneakers or your broken-in, make-your-ass-look-good jeans. It's choosing between Joshua Jackson and Jensen Ackles. Tonight at 9pm, Fox's Fringe and The CW's Supernatural battle against each other for your eyeballs, and there's a considerable amount at stake.

Neither show is a locks for renewal next season, and studio executives are watching the ratings for both shows like hawks. Of the two, Fringe appears to be in more danger of not returning, simply because Fox's demands are greater than The CW's. But there's a chance that the two audiences are actually the same, and in a worst-case scenario, the two shows could cannibalize one another's viewers, tarnishing the future of both programs.

Fox moved Fringe from Thursdays to Fridays almost three weeks ago, when American Idol returned and took over Thursdays. Since Fringe settled into its new time slot, the numbers have been shocking: They're pretty much the same as they were on Thursdays. This goes against the old rule that no one watches TV on Fridays (or it supports the theory that Fringe fans don't have anything better to do on Friday nights, but personally, I find that offensive).

"I'm surprised [Fringe's Friday-night ratings] started as high as they did," Bill Gorman, co-founder of ratings-watching site TV by the Numbers, told me. "And I'm surprised they were steady for the second week."

He's surely not alone. Fox must be unexpectedly pumping its fists over Fringe's loyal fan base. If the show can attract a core audience on Friday night, then Fox can confidently renew it for a fourth season... as long as that core fan base sticks around. One sacrifice will be the ability to grow the Fringe audience. But that's always been a problem with heavily serialized sci-fi dramas like Fringe. Even ABC's fabled Lost saw a fairly large drop in total viewers as it inched toward its end.

And it's important to note that those two weeks in which Fringe aired on Friday nights came without any real competition (Fringe went from finishing fourth in its Thursday-night time slot to finishing first on Fridays). Now Supernatural and its two-million-plus audience have a shot at taking away Fringe's sub-five-million audience.

What's going to happen? No one really knows, not even Mr. Gorman. "I'll be waiting on Saturday morning for the [ratings] news just like the rest of us in this universe." And that's coming from a guy who forecasts ratings for a living.

If the past is any indication, then there's room for both, even in the same time slot. The two shows survived the 2009-2010 season when they faced off against each other on very busy Thursday nights. Let's hope history repeats itself.

Extra Reading: Fox: Following Friday Finds Fringe Fans Festive at TVByTheNumbers.com

How will you handle the Fringe vs. Supernatural situation?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • Vadzor Feb 11, 2011

    I watch both shows! Since Supernatural is already in the safe zone, I hope people will watch Fringe to keep it alive!

  • lovemybubbaboy Feb 11, 2011

    Perhaps the networks would get the viewing numbers they want if they would stop playing musical chairs with their programs. When the viewers have to search for their favorite shows because CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox keep moving them to different nights at different times is it any wonder the ratings go down? Plus the fact that they make us wait for weeks before new episodes are aired. Raising Hope was off for nine weeks before it returned on Tuesday with a new episode. ( Which sucked by the way ). CBS moves Blue Bloods to Wednesday night for four weeks then sends it back to Friday night. Fox airs Human Target on Wednesdays or Mondays. Fringe has had more moves than Bobby Fisher on a chess board. Since it is apparent that the networks don't give a damn about the viewers, I'm going to start watching more shows on USA, FX and TNT and say goodbye to CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox.

  • romasticblossom Feb 10, 2011

    Both shows are so crazy and amazing( I love crazy shows lol)! They're unique and creative that's what make them so good! As some people said, they have to find new ways to know how the audience is going. People watch tons of tv shows nowadays ( I watch at least 10, I'm not joking and I'm not alone either! lol) and, obviously, we can't watch them at the same time, there'll be shows that you love that end up in the same night. ( Even if people didn't watch that much tv, everyone has to work or go out so, they end up missing their favorite show and have to watch it some other way).

  • Ray1905 Feb 10, 2011

    I record both, Supernatural is just o.k. this year, Fringe is getting better.

  • Xaviersx Feb 09, 2011

    The modern age . . . with a dvr I watch both . . . and not at the times the network air them. Maybe I throw the whole ball of waxy numbers off and get your favorite shows canceled . . . nope, reality shows still intact . . . but I dvr my favorites and watch that at my leisure. And Supernatural and Fringe are tops in my viewing.

  • darkbluemoon Feb 09, 2011

    Supernatural !!!! DEAN, SAM, I love this show

  • DawsonLeery Feb 09, 2011

    Both Supernatural and Fringe are 2 of my most fav. tv shows... And now they are competing against each other... :(

    Inside Voice:
    "Come on universe... Why don't you make the things more difficult for me by turning LEVERAGE into a Winter Show and put it on Friday too?"

  • AymanAlturki Feb 09, 2011

    Supernatural

  • darkbluemoon Feb 08, 2011

    love Supernatural madder what it is my all time favorite TV show and Smallville is to cant beet them. I hate Fringe it trying to cancel Supernatural.

  • nomad4420 Feb 08, 2011

    Fringe rules! Deep voices don't impress me.

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