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September 25 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ratings - opens big, this fall's biggest drama. The "ratings a Hulk smash".

This feels so different compared to when we were doing ratings follow-up for Dollhouse.

From EW: "[Agents of] S.H.I.E.L.D. actually managed to tie The Voice overall — and beat it head-to-head at 8 p.m., while trouncing the return of NCIS in the demo."

From TVLine (referring to past and new fall series): "In the demo, S.H.I.E.L.D. trounced NBC’s The Blacklist (12.6 mil/3.8), Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (10.1 mil/3.5) and CBS’ Hostages (7.4 mil/1.8).

For comparison’s sake, the first hour of Dancing With the Stars‘ results show a year ago did 10.1 mil/1.7 in ABC’s o’clock time slot, while the Alphabet net’s last Tuesdays-at-8 drama debut (No Ordinary Family) drew 10.7 mil and a 3.2.

ABC’s strongest previous drama launch was Once Upon a Time‘s 13 mil/4.0 circa 2011."

Zap2it has the detailed data up

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2013-09-25 16:44 ]
Holy no way! Thats HUGE! Hopefully a full season pick-up isn't too far behind.

[ edited by Xander on 2013-09-25 16:25 ]
Great start! Beat NCIS in the "coveted demo" - someone should trademark that - but not in overall numbers, which was pretty much what I thought would happen.

Hopefully it will hold around that number.
Biggest drama premiere on all networks in 4 years. ABC and Marvel did the business here. Kudos.
YAY! I was so confident about this, but then today I went back to the archives to remind myself about the ratings for Dollhouse and started fretting. But this is so amazing! Congrats to the SHIELD team!

(Also, right now you can type 'shield' into google and the first link is S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Those Dollhouse rating threads can keep us grounded, maybe too grounded, I did something similar last week.
Hulk win! Or, you know, Coulson and Co. Yay team!
What I thought. Next week will be interesting, as Ziva leaves NCIS.
Coulson for the win ! That's great news !
Quick, Whedon Fans, PANIC! :)
We just might, when people start to discuss potential drop for week 2 and 3.:P

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2013-09-25 17:03 ]
I randomly looked up the ratings for Game of Thrones S3 premiere. Even a show as big as that was "only" 4.4M.
...Damn this is a big number. I'm scared!
(Hey, it's... uhm... "only" about TEN TIMES more than Dollhouse or TSCC were managing per week...)
Here is my four star review of the pilot:
apollo11, Game of Thrones is on a pay premium cable network with no advertising that doesn't even care about ratings. There is no way viewership between the two are remotely comparable.

anuris, TSCC premiered after a huge football game. Again, not at all comparable.

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2013-09-25 17:13 ]
Fair enough - I don't know US TV well enough to have thought about it being HBO, just going on "what I know is popular" I guess. I was also trying to use the more regular ratings for Dollhouse and TSCC which I always recall as being around the 1-2M mark since I figured those were really the last time something comparable was on mainstream TV. I had no idea TSCC had premiered so high either.
The pilot was terrible. How come Joss Whedons pilots except for Firefly usually aren't that great.
Wow, then this could be TV's biggest new drama since "V"! Huzzah!

(Sorry... I have faith it will do much better in the long run than "V".)
I don't have an edit feature on my account. Why not?
Probably best to take a step back and see what the series average is around 6 episodes in when all the new shows have premiered and everyone is competing at full strength. This is easily Joss' most commercial show ever and it should be no surprise with the insane marketing spend ABC put into this that it opened big. If it settles out to average above a 3.0 18-49 this fall we will have this show for many seasons.
I'm curious as to how these compare to early Lost ratings.
I'm glad it opened well, but I'm just as interested to see the numbers for next week.

A strong start is a great thing. Whew.

(and FWIW, I'm not an NCIS watcher, so there's no scheduling conflict for me. I can't seem to avoid NCIS when I'm channel surfing, though. Endless marathons on USA don't hurt their numbers, I'm sure.)
"For its first season, Lost averaged 16 million viewers, ranking 14th in viewership among prime-time shows, ... Over the course of the spring season, ratings would plunge to as low as 11 million viewers before recovering to near 14 million for the season finale."

Personally I'm fine with giving SHIELD up to episode 6 to kick things off properly. Sure, it was underwhelming and a little messy, but early days yet.
Lost premiered with 18.65 million viewers. Agents of SHIELD's numbers are comparable to the last few seasons of Lost.

Lost's high point, btw, was it's Season 2 premiere, "Man of Science, Man of Faith", at 23.47 million. It consistently performed in the upper-teens/low twenties until midway through the third season (which is generally considered it's weakest season).

[ edited by JMaloney on 2013-09-25 17:34 ]
How come Whedons pilots tend to be bad?
You want something really popular and genre related to compare to?
Then you should go to The Walking Dead, which is from basic cable channel AMC:
Their Season 3 premiere last October, which has numbers any broadcast network would die for nowadays:
The Walking Dead Ratings from Oct/14/2012:
· 9pm premiere: 10.9 million viewers
· 9pm premiere: 7.3 million Adults 18-49

Lost premiered 9 years ago when the viewership of the top 4 broadcast networks was at least 5 times (on average) what it is today. It's an interesting history tidbit but again, not at all relevant. Comparing further back than 2 years really doesn't make much sense. The business, viewers choices, and viewers behaviors have changed far too much.

Good comp, Numfar. Also keep in mind that AMC is only available in something like 90% of homes, vs ABC's 99.9% so AMC starts with a handicap.

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2013-09-25 17:33 ]
I'm curious to find out how it did at the half-hour mark.
Suppose the SHIELD rating doesn't even include DVR yet, either.
The best benchmark - and one ABC will use - is this seasons other premieres, and what's on the air still. Because TV viewing habits are changing so much, so quickly.

SHIELD beat out everything in 18-49 for the night, which is the key demographic where advertisements are sold. It's also very easily this seasons biggest launch - the closest competition is The Blacklist, and that launched way off SHIELD.

Basically, it's a great job by the network. It's now Jed, Mo and Joss' jobs to try to keep bringing people back. The good news is that the coming episodes are bigger in scope, and mix things up from the pilot a bit.
Half hour = 4.5, then 4.6.
Just to reinforce IrrationaliTV points viewership shift, as EW pointed out in that extensive Joss interview, the numbers Firefly did back then, today would be enough to keep the show afloat.
apollo11, the ratings announced this morning includes live viewing plus DVR usage through like 1am. The network will also get Live plus 3 days of DVR (L3), Commercials watched Live plus 3 days (C3, which will never be made public and what ABC actually gets paid for) and Live plus 7 days of DVR (L7).

BTW, I adored the pilot. It was better on the 2nd viewing .

[ edited by IrrationaliTV on 2013-09-25 17:43 ]
I'm looking for my comment in a thread from a few months ago where I was suggesting that AoS was going to beat NCIS and many folks in here told me I was uninformed and delusional.

Avengersfan, his pilots aren't bad. I think he improves over time as his characters develop. The cast and crew might not have hit their strides yet but still solid work. How many of his pilots have you seen? Also, just a friendly note, people around here are very sensitive to negative vibes. Diplomacy is the best policy.
gossi -- Thanks for that. It's a small uptick, but an uptick nonetheless.

And this whole discussion really goes back to Joss's comments on the box office numbers for Avengers. The premiere numbers are the responsibility of the marketing team. Most everything after that will be on the quality of the material, and so far I'm very pleased with it. Not to get ahead of anything, but I'd be really surprised is this doesn't get a full season pickup, and quickly.
alex, it didn't beat NCIS in total viewers. NCIS skews old, SHIELD skews young. But it certain beat it in 18-49. NCIS was 20% off last night, a 6 year low.
Great gossi, I'm back to being uninformed and delusional! ;)
I wonder how soon we could expect an announcement about "the back nine."
IrrationaliTV: I know that TSCC opened after a football game (it's even stated in the article from my link). But I didn't mean to compare it to AoS, I just wanted to illustrate to apollo11 how sharply TSCC fell in the ratings over time ;) ... which can also happen to Agents of SHIELD, even though I don't expect it.
You're right, Anuris it could but since AoS didn't premiere with an over-inflated number driven by football it is (as you rightly point out) not expected. There is likely to be some dropoff, of course. Wouldn't be at all surprised (AND NO ONE SHOULD PANIC) if it dropped 20% next week. :)
Satisfaction. That big marketing campaign seems to be paying off. Hopefully the drops aren't too big in the coming weeks.
Again, the TSCC number I was going on was the average which I recalled being similar to Dollhouse on the week by week numbers. That's all I meant by it.
alex, I wasn't meaning to slate you at all, so apologies if it came across like that. TV ratings are interesting as in theory they're easy - they're just numbers - but the ways the biz uses those numbers to make money is in a constant flux over last 10 years. Example - people will tell you DVR numbers don't matter, but lately networks are paying attention to C+3 DVR numbers (which aren't normally released) - e.g. Dollhouse had a 33% increase in C+3, I found out recently, during the first season, which put it into renewal area. That's basically how the show came back. But at the time, the logic was 'DVR doesn't matter'.
Of the comments I've read so far, it seems like IrrationaliTV and gossi have a beat on what we need to "look for" in these numbers in terms of projecting AoS's longevity.

I'm not wishing for huge Hulk-sized success at this point (though I wouldn't say no to that); I'm hoping for stability and longevity so Joss and Co. can tell the stories they want. I believe that requires a minimum number among the "demo," plus some cushion so that Joss and Co. can be given some latitude to take story risks.

@Scraggles is it really true that Ziva leaves NCIS next week? I think there will be an uptick for NCIS if that's true, plus a significant dropoff for NCIS (and gain for AoS) afterward.

Again, after some more weeks these numbers will tell us more than they do now.

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2013-09-25 18:53 ]

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2013-09-25 18:53 ]
Great to hear.I would of been shocked if it didn't do well.
Ronald_SF, yes, Ziva leaves next week. It will be key to the survival of the series what they do to replace her- and as of yesterday, Cote de pablo was not ruling out a return.

AoS starts with one benefit that others show do not have- it is in a world that already has a built-in following, and is part of that expanding Marvel universe- which is linked across platforms, movies, TV shows and so much more. This was an excellent start, but it was not a staggering start. 11.5 million viewers. This will, so long as the drop-off is not huge, virtually assure a second season. And it does skew young to NCIS' older demographic- but there were almost twice as many overall viewers for NCIS (well, 19 million to 11 million). But the story is not told until we see how many Tivoed it, etc. One strategy down the road would be to move the show to a night with weaker competition. They really should wish to pick up some NCIS viewers who would watch if they could. (PS. NCIS is considering adding a third NCIS show).
Quick, Whedon Fans, PANIC! :)

I think you mean picnic ;)!
gossi, no worries! I was just being folksy. (I forgot to turn on the sarcasm font)
I had two questions for anyone that may know:

1. Do you have to have a Nielsen box in order for DVR viewing to count?

2. How much does viewing on network site, Hulu and Itunes matter in the ratings?

Forgive me as I am sure this has probably been discussed before but your feedback is appreciated.
1. Do you have to have a Nielsen box in order for DVR viewing to count?
Nielsen only counts Nielsen folk.
So do you need to be a part of Nielson for DVR viewing to matter or are they two seperate things? Thanks
apollo11: Yes, you're right. When TSCC aired together with Dollhouse (in the so called "Friday death slot"), it averaged around 3.5 million viewers. But what I wanted to point out is that it wasn't always so weak. It started with that huge football inflated number and then through the rest of the nine Season 1 episodes stabilized around 8 million (the second episode still had 10). When it came back next season, it was getting only about 5.5 million viewers per episode and because of this was later relegated to Friday. So the drop was continual even after the football boost from the first week wore off. And this can happen to any show if it's not good enough or if it doesn't find its audience. But I think and hope that none of those two options will be the case with AoS.:)
I'll go out on a limb and say Agents has got a second season so we don't have to worry about ratings for a while.
As bix said, Nielsen only counts Nielsen people but it does take into consideration their DVR usage. If you're not a Nielsen home then your DVR usage (and your live viewing) is not counted. The Nielsen sample group is made up of representative people that mirror the overall population of the US as closely as possible.

Hulu views and iTunes purchases are sometimes noted by the network (but the revenue usually goes to the studio who makes it and not the network that airs it, in this case all the same company) but they are not included in any ratings metrics reported by Nielsen.

Totally separate. Nielsens intent is to approximate the number of people who watch commercials. That's how networks make money.
I think Agents of SHIELD had huge ratings in large part to the curiosity factor. It benefited from the popularity of all the Marvel movies. However, I wonder if there might be a significant drop in ratings if the show stays at the same quality level its at right now.

Agents of SHIELD has had its ratings revised. Final 18-19 demo is 4.7 and total viewers is 12.12 million. Even better!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2013-09-25 22:17 ]
This is Whedon at his best, so i hope it gets even better and hope the regular viewer does enjoy it as much as i did. :)
FYI, some info on Nielsen's plan to measure online viewing, or some of it, at some point.
Emmie - It's hard to judge much of a 'quality level' from one episode that has to set up the entire season/series. I suspect it was a good enough open to hold a good audience. As IrrationaliTV says above, don't panic if it sheds 20%.
I think it will hold on to a significant part of the audience. After all, it's got Lola.
Hold me, for ratings this huge are unfamiliar and frighten me.
4.7 million? Isn't that the number for Dollhouse's total viewers on its premiere? Wow, it really demonstrates the difference good marketing can make. (And admittedly a less experimental concept.)

I've entertained the notion that many many people would love Joss's shows if they only watched them in the first place. I haven't seen AoS yet but Whedon shows pretty much always improve on their pilots. So as long as people stick around for a couple episodes they should see it's amazing, right?
zeitgeist -- No panic here. I just found the pilot underwhelming. There were moments of genuine enjoyment for me, but in retrospect they feel like cotton candy. I just see some serious flaws in the long game (e.g., the most emotionally compelling character was the one-off Mike played by JAR).
Bluelark, that 4.7 is not millions of viewers; it is a measure of viewership. The show was trying to hit 5.0, and came very close.

"For example "Males 18-30", "Women 40-60", "Pre-teens" , etc.

The "target" demographic, then, is the segment of the population the show is specifically hoping to reach. It's generally the demographic most likely to purchase the products and services offered by the companies that advertise on the show. For example, Soap Operas' target demographics are probably something like "Housewives 30-50", and hence the main advertisers are things like house cleaning products, grocery stores, vacation destinations, etc. In contrast, Monday Night Football's target demographic might be "Men aged 18-40", and so most advertisers are for Beer and Cars.

In the specific case you're talking about, the target demographic was mentioned in the previous paragraph: Adults aged 18-49. The article is saying that the Late Show averaged only a 0.9 within that group of adults aged 18-49, while the Tonight Show averaged 1.3 among that same group.

FWIW, those numbers mean that Nielsen estimates that of all households in the country with a television set, 0.9% of them were watching the Late Show, 1.3% of them were watching the Tonight Show, and teh remainder were either watching something else, or were not watching TV at all. "
Forgive the nitpick, Bluelark, but I believe the 4.7 is the rating, i.e. a percentage of people, not a number in itself.

Am I right, other, smarter people? 4.7% of TV-owning, in-the-demo households watched, rather than 4.7 mil?

ETA: Hey, smarter people beat me to it :)

[ edited by sumogrip on 2013-09-26 00:34 ]
Impressive beginning with massive marketing. Important numbers are the ones that come with episodes 3-7.
Thanks for the corrections. So now I know the Nielsen system is far more complicated than I thought. Here's hoping that the show does well enough that I can enjoy it in a narrative bubble and not have to watch the numbers week to week.
The Futon Critic has some detailed numbers about the target 18-49 demo:
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (8:00) - ABC
12.121 million viewers, #5; 5.969 million adults 18-49 (4.7 rating), #1

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