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Sleepy Hollow has been the little show that could on Fox for some time now. Despite losing several major cast members and having to retool its premise about once per season, the show has made it all the way to Season 4, where it airs on Friday nights. The show has seen a much smaller audience since it moved to Fridays, and this past weekend saw the show's ratings drop more than 16% to a .5 in the 18-49 demographic. In no way is that good, but does it mean Sleepy Hollow will live to see a fifth season on the network? Let's investigate.
To really get down to the nitty gritty of the ratings, you should first know that Friday night is not a good night for TV. A lot of people DVR the programs they might normally watch on Friday nights simply because they aren't home. While CBS and ABC have sort of stemmed the tide and catered to audiences who are at home on Friday nights--Shark Tank, MacGyver, Blue Bloods and Last Man Standing all do a 1.0 rating or more on Fridays--NBC, The CW and Fox all see lower ratings. Per TV By The Numbers, Rosewood and Emerald City only did a .6 rating, on Fox and NBC respectively. Grimm was up a little from those, managing a .8 rating in the 18-49 demo, although that series is wrapping up this season.
Sleepy Hollow's lower ratings seem to have been anticipated by Fox earlier this season, as the network noted it hoped the show would be able to build a niche audience on Friday nights in time shifted viewing, aka DVR and platforms like On Demand. This is actually a good indication that the network wants the show to work. It's true, too, that the reboot has actually been a pretty smooth transition this time around, with fun new characters and an interesting twist with the new witness. Fox has been rewarded with DVR numbers that are doubling or coming close to it each week, bumping up Sleepy Hollow to a 1.0 rating.
Then again, the show is only five episodes into Season 4 and its still doing worse than Rosewood, which has been holding its own on Friday nights since the beginning of the season. Interest has waned off a bit on that show since TV returned at midseason, and its ratings have clearly gone down over the past several weeks as well; still, Rosewood's average for the season is ahead of Sleepy Hollow's. In fact, Sleepy Hollow is currently the lowest-rated program on Fox--and that's even including Scream Queens.
Fox actually has seen quite a few shows that have underperformed this season. There's the baseball series Pitch that was, by all accounts, good but totally under-watched. Even seemingly heavy hitters like Gotham and Lucifer pick up a lot of viewers later in the week. Shows like Lethal Weapon and Empire have been rays of sunshine for the channel, but there are a lot of shows that could potentially be tried out in a Friday night timeslot next year if Fox should cancel what it has going on now. It all sort of depends if Fox wants to push to keep its supernatural charmer in the lineup. With 13 or so episodes per season, Sleepy Hollow is still like two seasons away from hitting the 100 episode syndication mark--not that that number matters as much these days.
One thing is for certain: despite both Rosewood and Sleepy Hollow having a procedural bent, they have very little in common and aren't a great fit for one another. Friday nights are a tough timeslot for any show, but we don't really expect at least one of the series to last into next season. If the numbers say anything, it'll be Sleepy Hollow that gets dropped, or both shows. However, Sleepy Hollow has surprised me before, as well.
You can take a look at what has already been cancelled and renewed with our rundown of the 2016-2017 TV season.