Gasping for Airtime: Oxygen Chokes on 'Glee Project' Ratings

Repeats of 'America's Got Talent' drew bigger audiences

Jane Lynch | Photo by Michael Kovac/FilmMagic


The premiere of The Glee Project was cause for little joy at the Oxygen network, as the much ballyhooed competition series fell flat in the ratings.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, the first episode bowed to a mere 455,000 viewers Sunday at 9 p.m., well below early projections of 1 million. In comparison, an episode of the true-crime series Snapped (which was in its ninth season at the time) drew 423,000 viewers in the same time slot one year ago.

The Glee Project didn’t even put up Oxygen’s biggest numbers for the week, falling well short of two Friday night episodes of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, a Monday night installment of the homegrown Love Games, and a screening of the 1995 theatrical comedy Clueless.

Oxygen got the night started with a casting special dubbed The Glee Project: The Final 12. That introduction to the series regulars delivered 388,000 viewers, or 15 percent shy of the prior-year average in the Sunday 8 p.m. time slot.

Together the two bookends delivered a cumulative 843,000 viewers. When an encore of the first proper episode was added to the original rating, the two runs drew just 719,000 viewers.

While the demos were up significantly from the year-ago deliveries, they still fell well short of the network’s expectations. The Glee Project served up 211,000 adults 18-49, which accounted for 46 percent of the overall draw. Women 18-49 made up 32 percent of the total audience (144,000).

The demos for the casting special were largely similar to those delivered by the first episode.

What’s curious about the poor turnout for The Glee Project is that the pilot generally garnered positive reviews. While some speculated the premiere flagged because it bowed opposite the deciding game of the NBA Finals, it's hard to see much overlap between Gleeks and Dirk Nowitzki fans.

Whatever the cause, The Glee Project’s numbers were shockingly low, barely topping Oxygen’s most recent debut, the much-reviled World According to Paris. That candid look at the life of the spoiled, stupid, wholly unpleasant Hilton heiress still managed to draw 409,000 viewers on June 1, down just 11 percent from Sunday night’s draw. (After Hilton’s showcase fizzled, she immediately put the blame on Oxygen, erroneously claiming that the show didn’t roll out in its appointed time slot.)

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