If the Nielsen ratings are anything to go by, it would appear that E! viewers are beginning to experience the onset of Caitlyn Jenner fatigue.
Episode two of Ms. Jenner's new series "I Am Cait" fell precipitously versus the July 26 premiere, as live-plus-same-day total viewers dove 53% to 1.29 million viewers, from 2.73 million, while half of the 18-to-49 rating disappeared.
Sunday night's sophomore episode eked out a 0.6 in the 18-to-49 demo, down from the opening night's 1.2 rating.
Each ratings point represents 1.27 million members of the demo. As such, the second installment of "I Am Cait" delivered just shy of 725,000 advertiser-coveted viewers, versus the 1.47 million who tuned in for the series premiere.
While a little erosion between the first episode and the second is expected -- the standard decline generally rests between minus-15% and minus-20% -- losing 50% of the demo in the course of a single week is cause for concern.
Not only is "I Am Cait" looking vulnerable, but the iffy showing in the anchor slot is destabilizing its lead-out. At 9 p.m., E!'s new docuseries "Stewarts & Hamiltons" suffered similar declines, falling 56% to 416,000 viewers while losing 75% of the demo (0.1 versus a 0.4 on July 26).
The sudden destabilization of the "I Am Cait" audience may be a function of simple overexposure. Diane Sawyer's exclusive "20/20" interview with Bruce Jenner, the first salvo in a meticulously planned media offensive, delivered 17.1 million viewers and a 5.2 rating on April 24, whereupon the PR machine really kicked into gear. The Twitter-melting Vanity Fair cover was followed in due course by Ms. Jenner's appearance in ABC's July 15 broadcast of the ESPY Awards, which aired a week before the "I Am Cait" premiere.
Then again, this summer has been absolutely unforgiving for new shows, unscripted or otherwise. Spike's big swing at an unscripted event series turfed out when the three-part "Tut" last month averaged a mere 1.54 million viewers and a 0.4 in the dollar demo. The sweaty months have been so difficult that four series are presently tied for the lead among scripted dramas; with an average draw of a 1.1 among adults 18-49, Fox's recently concluded "Wayward Pines," HBO's ad-free "True Detective" and CBS's "Zoo" and "Under the Dome" represent the best of a poorly-performing bunch.
But for "Celebrity Family Feud," which closed out its first season on ABC with an average draw of a 2.0, summer TV's top performers are all long-running unscripted series. Tops among all comers is NBC's "America's Got Talent," which in its 10th season is averaging a robust 2.4 in the demo. Other overachievers include ABC's "The Bachelorette," which wrapped up its 11th campaign with a 2.0 average; CBS's ageless "Big Brother" (1.9) and NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" (1.9).
With exceptions such as Jon Stewart's final broadcast this Thursday, which will air right after Fox News Channel's presentation of an almost comically overstuffed Republican primary debate, the summer's last remaining hope for a big hit falls on the shoulders of AMC's "Fear the Walking Dead." The companion series to TV's top-rated scripted series staggers into America's living rooms on Sunday, Aug. 23.