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Last night Syfy aired the first episode in its new three-episode "event series" Ascension, and it looks like the premiere didn’t do too badly at all. The first episode premiered last night to pretty strong ratings for Syfy, pulling in 1.8 million viewers overall. Beyond that, the show boasted the second highest number of tweets for a scripted show on the network; the only episode of a Syfy show that has been able to beat it was the 2013 series premiere of Defiance.
While 1.8 million isn’t a huge audience, especially when you compare Ascension to cable shows on other networks that crush (like The Walking Dead, which nabs well over 10 million eyeballs every week, give or take a million), for a Syfy drama, 1.8 is a pretty strong showing. Shows like Dominion and Defiance have kicked off their runs on Syfy around the 2 million mark, and have tapered off to a more consistent viewership of around 1.5 million. To help explain Ascension’s viewership further, this past season of Haven, one of the Syfy's mainstay programs, had an audience just below or at 1 million, so the event series is well up from that.
So it looks like Syfy viewers found something special in Ascension. The show has certainly resonated with adults in the 25-54 age range. 882,000 of Ascension’s viewers fell into that demographic. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as Syfy tends to do pretty well catering to this age group. Syfy has three of the top ten cable scripted series launched this year for that age group in Helix, Dominion, and now Ascension.
Of course, the full story of Ascension’s run has yet to be told, as we've only seen one night of the three-episode event series. However, if the show continues to do well, it will be interesting to see if Syfy moves to make Ascension into a regularly scheduled show. The network has used shortened projects before to expand into full shows, as occurred with Battlestar Galactica, which also got a miniseries before the network picked the show up for Season 1. With shows like Haven, Helix, Defiance, and Dominion, it certainly would be cool to add a show to the network that really had a bit of old school, science fiction flavor.
Ascension is created by Philip Levens (Smallville) and Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity and The Purge franchises) along with Ivan Fecan, Tim Gamble and Brett Burlock, and it follows a covert U.S. space mission from 1960 that sent 600 men, women, and children on the starship Ascension to populate a new world. Once they travel too far to come back to earth safely, the travelers aboard Ascension are put in danger, and the motives behind the mission are questioned when a young woman aboard the ship is murdered.
You can see what the future holds for those aboard Ascension when the final two installments in the miniseries event air tonight, December 16, and tomorrow night, December 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.