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As a series that already faced cancellation early in its run, Family Guy currently feels like a television institution that will always be there, even if the world comes to an end and Seth Macfarlane and Rupert Murdoch are the only people left breathing on Earth. But a feeling and reality aren’t always the same thing, and Family Guy’s latest ratings are a sign that the sporadically offensive animated series is currently being enjoyed by the smallest audiences of its entire run. Could the end be near?
Sunday nights in the fall are tough on everyone that isn’t the NFL and The Walking Dead, and no one really expects Family Guy to stand tall above everything else, but this past Sunday was positively awful for the show. After the Live + Same Day numbers were tallied, Season 14’s “Peter, Chris & Brian” only brought in 2.58 million viewers, with a dismal 1.1 rating for the key 18-49 demographic. If you think that this could be an anomalous dip that doesn’t really signify any ongoing problems with ratings, that’s sadly not the case. The season premiere in September only brought in 2.87 million viewers, and even the Halloween episode from a few weeks ago only nabbed 3.8 million people.
It’d be one thing if everything across the dial was suffering the same ratings deficiency, but the only show to get lower ratings than Family Guy was its follow-up series The Last Man on Earth, which probably isn’t overjoyed by those lead-in numbers. In comparison, even the generally low-rated Simpsons brought in around a million more people, and had a more impressive 1.5 demo rating. Family Guy’s head-to-head network competition at its timeslot is ABC’s Blood & Oil, which likely won’t make it to a Season 2, and even it brought in 3.3 million people, according to TV By the Numbers, though only a 0.8 demo rating.
Another interesting aspect of Family Guy’s decline is that it’s the only one of Fox’s animated series that has yet to earn a new season renewal. The Simpsons is already set through Season 28, and Bob’s Burgers received a two-season order some weeks back. There’s nothing in the cards for either Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Last Man, either, but animated series usually have a lengthy pre-production time that makes early renewals more helpful to the creative teams. The countdown clock is ticking pretty loud.
Now’s about the time when Fox needs to reveal another Simpsons/Family Guy crossover for later in the season, since that Season 13 premiere brought in the comedy’s biggest audience in quite a few years. As a silver lining, the show's DVR and syndication numbers are still strong, but are they strong enough?
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