Monday, June 26, 2017

The War of 18-49, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


Explosive Beginnings

In fall 2013, nearly a year and half after The Avengers became a box office mega-smash, ABC finally unveiled the series that would bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to TV on a weekly basis. So high were ABC's hopes that the network put it at the start of a full night of new series. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lived up to the billing on premiere night, exploding to 12.12 million viewers and a 4.7 demo rating.

But SHIELD's days as a potential megahit were short-lived: it took a 30% drop to a 3.3 in week two, and it was down again for each of the next five episodes before finally bouncing back a bit in November. It pretty much hung around 2.0 after the new year, which was still a bit above league average. That was enough for a renewal, but not enough to shake the 'disappointment' narrative. And the needle didn't move much when its storyline was tied directly to Captain America: The Winter Soldier toward the end of the season.

Moving Later in the Night

The network launched comedies after SHIELD in season one when there was hope it could be something huge, but starting in season two ABC was more inclined to put the comedies at 8:00. That meant SHIELD was at 9:00 in seasons two and three, and both years took significant hits in the ratings. Some of its best trends came early in season three when The Muppets briefly livened up the night at 8:00, but SHIELD came back a weaker show once again in the second half of the season.


In season four, ABC had the comedy horses to go for a two-hour block on Tuesday, and SHIELD was pushed into the 10:00 hour. The erosion continued at double-digit levels with this move, and it seemed to be in serious danger during the winter months when it had five 0.6 ratings in a six-episode span. But it came back a little stronger after the spring hiatus, and lived to see another day.

Even Lower Priority Treatment

In fall 2017, ABC handed Friday night to veteran dramas Once Upon a Time and Agents of SHIELD. Both got hit in the ratings, but it was much worse for Once (which lost several main cast members), while SHIELD actually looked like the stronger of the two shows at 9/8c. In ABC's last scripted renew/cancel decision of the season, they decided to give SHIELD yet another season, though it is not supposed to be returning until the summer.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

SeasYearSlotAvgy2yLoHiResultsGrade
12013-14Tuesday 8:002.391.84.7detail
22014-15Tuesday 9:001.58-34%1.32.0detail
32015-161.17-26%0.91.7detailC-
42016-17Tuesday 10:000.74-37%0.61.1detailC+
52017-18Friday 9:000.54-27%0.40.7detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

SeasYearA18-49+LabelNow18y2yLoHiPremiereFinale
12013-14127hit1.3996250250106
22014-1594marginal1.03-26%7711911977
32015-1681marginal0.88-14%6211711769
42016-1760flop0.66-25%49909057
52017-1849flop0.54-18%38616045

AVERAGE:82marginal
CAREER:411utility



The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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