How Do Sarah Michelle Gellar's 'Ringer' Ratings Stack Up to 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'?

The CW

The actress' return to television delivered 2.84 million viewers on Tuesday night for the CW.

Ringer launched to solid ratings Tuesday, but it will be an uphill battle for Sarah Michelle Gellar if it wants to match the performance of her WB/UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Following its 90120 lead-in, the rookie drama delivered 2.84 million total viewers for the CW and a 1.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic (and broadening the network's demos). Though it marked the network's best performance in the time period in three years, Gellar's Buffy effort -- a midseason entry replacing Savannah on March 10, 1997 -- launched to 4.8 million total viewers and a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo during the 9-10 p.m. hour. Among adults 18-34, Buffy, which ran in a very different television landscape from 1997 to 2003, drew a 1.9 rating. (It premiered with a two-hour telecast from 8-10 p.m., delivering 4.7 million and a 2.0.)

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"We feel like the product is there. We just need people to watch it," Ringer executive producer and co-creator Eric Charmleo told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the show's launch. "With Sarah Michelle attached, we'd be hard-pressed not to fill that mandate."

To be sure, when Buffy premiered on the WB in 1997, viewing habits differed greatly, with fewer viewing options (original programming on cable) and devices (DVR, streaming). Still, during the first season of Buffy, which aired on Mondays at 9 p.m., the supernatural drama averaged roughly 3.7 million per episode. Season 3 proved to be the show's most successful season, averaging roughly 5.3 million each week. During the last half of the second season, Buffy switched time slots to Tuesdays at 8 p.m., where it stayed for the rest of its run.

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Executive producer and co-creator Nicole Snyder told THR that the challenges of sustaining Ringer's complex premise are not lost on them.

"We're constantly making sure that all the questions and the mysteries that we established in the pilot are answered throughout our first season," she said. "We're very mindful of answering questions, giving the audience information but teasing them with new information and branching out the mystery. We want people to keep coming back for more."

Notably, Ringer debuted to roughly the same number in the ad-coveted demo (1.2) as the canceled Hellcats did last September, though Hellcats -- centered on a group of college cheerleaders -- did not have the same level of anticipation.

As the first freshman series launching this television season, the CW is offering the Ringer pilot two more times (Friday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 9 p.m.) in hopes that more viewers will sample the show and return on its regular night.