(when explaining things, my posts tend to be long, but laden with facts, like my post in another topic about the "Juggernaut" episode)
I have the ratings on another computer, but I need to note sometimes context is part of the equation. "Counterpoint" aired 12/16/98 in the US (UK ratings I've seen a few times but never copy-pasted them). UPN was fairly often pre-empted for basketball & hockey in several markets, baseball in some markets, but that would cover all of Voyager's run (I'm just mentioning it as the notion of UPN's timeslots being as "solid" as other networks is misleading. It was interrupted as much as syndicated shows). 12/16 would be in hockey season & basketball, but the NBA was on a strike then; correction- lockout. Also, ratings tend to go down in December because November is a sweeps, December is the month people are shopping, kids go on winter break (2 weeks in late December) and just tv viewership in general dips a little from Nov because most shows are in reruns. I remember watching "Counterpoint" that day. I was a regular Voyager viewer and tuned in practically every Wednesday new eps were on and almost never changed the channel during commercials, and for a number of reruns too, but I was flipping back and forth between UPN and CNN because something was going on:
Operation Desert Fox
, a brief 3 day or so bombing campaign in Iraq to punish Hussein for not allowing UN/IAEA inspectors in. If I remember correctly, it just started around the start of Voyager and was expected to start during the 7 or 8PM hour in my time zone. Voyager was on when Larry King was on, and I think he, strangely, was acting as the host for this news event (he's usually interviewing celebrities, giving softball interviews to politicians). It was a Gulf War redux, green night vision footage, AA fire, aerial bombings.
(use Wiki's sources as a step off point. Wiki is good, but as a hub, an info-gathering site, not the final source. It's a subject of controversy in US academia as the old traditional way of sources has eroded in the age of the internet and clashes with the new age. Basically the old-timers don't understand the new age and it shifted from official printed sources to accept as absolute truth to having many sources and being able to access the quality of the sources)
It may explain why the ratings were lower than the 2 other December episodes that season, though once you get past early December, ratings go down (which is why episodes in the back half of Dec went from common to very uncommon). "Inside Man" aired the day after the 2000 election (debacle). It was slightly down compared to surrounding episodes. Except for the 1960 election, every election in the television age was settled by the next morning until 2000. That Wednesday (11/8/00) Americans wanted to know what the hell went wrong in Florida. So, news stories can siphon off viewers in primetime.
Also, part of the backdrop of that week was the House was holding their floor debate on the articles of impeachment for Pres. Clinton. It obviously got quite heated and many of the days they were debating at least somewhat into the evening. The actual vote on the articles wasn't til Saturday though (12/19/98). Impeachment was something brand new to Americans. They never paid attention when it happened to judges (checked the records, happened in 1986, 88, 89, 2009 & 10). This was the 1st time a president was impeached since Andrew Johnson in 1868. Nixon... the process was beginning (originates in House Judicial Committee, goes to the House for a vote then the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding over the Senate for the trial) when he resigned. Clinton was acquitted (still technically impeached as the House does that, but the Senate does the conviction/acquittal), but at the time, it was quite serious even though many felt it was the culmination of Republican fishing expeditions/witch hunts against him. It was the possibility of the removal of a sitting president. Hindsight may make it seem trivial, but at the time, it put a cloud of uncertainty over things. And many Americans on both sides were quite curious as to how impeachment actually proceeded.
.... Ok, I'm back inside and can type this side by side with that other computer. "Counterpoint" had a 3.4 rating (3.4% of US households with televisions tuned in to watch it. It's 3.4 Rating, not Share). The 2 episodes in Dec before it got a 4.1, 4.2. The average of the ratings of all 26 new episodes that season was 3.66. The usual pattern for VOY is ratings gradually declining from fall to winter, plummeting in spring, then rebounding somewhat in fall.
Of course, context is everything. Those ratings would be pathetic for other networks (except WB) though Voyager was the highest rated show on UPN for Voyager's 1st 5 seasons and 2nd highest in its last 2 seasons (behind Smackdown, a wrestling show. Voyager was still the highest rated scripted show, though WWF wrestling is 'scripted' in a different sense). If Voyager was in syndication, its ratings would be good (that season, would've been 4th behind DS9, Xena, Hercules. I don't have V.I.P.'s ratings though but it was not in the top 3)
A broader snapshot of the 98-99 season landscape for Voyager:
- ratings for the 10 new eps from Oct-Dec
: 3.7, 3.7, 3.6, 4.2, 3.8, 4.3, 3.3*, 4.1, 4.2, 3.4
- Dec-Jan reruns
: 2.7, 2.2, 2.8, 2.9
- Jan- early March new eps
: 3.8, 4.0, 4.0, 3.9, 4.7 (Dark Frontier), 3.4, 3.7
- March-April reruns (2 new eps bolded)
: 2.6, 2.7, 2.9, 3.7
, 2.6, 2.6, 2.6
- April-May block of new eps
: 1.7**, 3.4, 3.2, 3.3, 3.3, 3.2
*: aired the night before Thanksgiving. Shows usually have a small~moderate ratings decline that night despite technically being Nov sweeps. Also take note for sci-fi history, "Infinite Regress" here aired immediately before the Babylon 5 series finale "Sleeping in Light", which was airing on cable (TNT). I was certainly anxious, wanting to see the last act of Voyager but not wanting to miss a moment of B5, going back and forth with the VCR ready.
**: aired on a special night (Mon) before the usual day (Wed) with little advertising. Where's my "Juggernaut" post? Might be buried in the Kes thread here somewhere.
Voyager is one of the very few series I've been able to find the ratings for every single week
for. Usually I'm missing a few to a number of reruns even when I have all new episode premiere ratings. I even found the rating for an ep I'd never thought I'd find (9/12/01 rerun).