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ABC defends so-so ratings for Agent Carter: 'Very optimistic' about future

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Jan 14, 2015, 7:23 PM EST (Updated)

If you haven’t been watching ABC’s Agent Carter, you’re missing one of the most entertaining stories told to date in the Marvel Universe — and you’re definitely not alone.

The ratings for the small-screen spinoff of Captain America: First Avenger are decent, but nothing to write home about. The numbers are comparable to what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had been pulling in the same timeslot recently, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is down considerably from its impressive debut last season.

The newest episode of Agent Carter, which aired Tuesday night, notched 5.1 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 (the most coveted demographic). The period-set spy thriller isn’t the cheapest series on the books, so those so-so numbers aren’t great news. But, low or not, they’re comparable with other mid-rated ABC programs — though you eventually reach a tipping point where you have to look at similarly low ratings and production budgets.

Eventual DVR numbers will almost certainly show a big spike — the premiere has already climbed to a very solid 2.7 rating in 18-49 when factoring in DVR playback — but advertisers (and networks) still put a lot of weight into those live, next-day ratings. Despite the lackluster numbers, the folks at ABC say they still have a lot of faith in the critically acclaimed series. We're glad to hear it.

ABC entertainment president Paul Lee told Entertainment Weekly that the network still feels “very optimistic” about having Agent Carter on the schedule, along with S.H.I.E.L.D., and is encouraged by the DVR numbers. He also revealed that the network still has several irons in the fire when it comes to additional Marvel projects (both Marvel and ABC are owned by Disney, so synergy!):

“SHIELD is actually a great and powerful show for us, [it’s 18-49 demo rating with seven days of DVR playback playback] pops up to a 3.0, it brings in a male audience for us and it’s creatively really strong now. We left a great cliffhanger at the end of Christmas and now it’s going to come back with some fantastic storylines. And to have Agent Carter in the [SHIELD hiatus] gap doing sort of double what we were doing there last year is great for us … We have ambitions for Marvel in the future. We love Marvel."

To be honest, Agent Carter was a mildly risky pitch for a network miniseries, though the studio did an excellent job of creating some loose connections with S.H.I.E.L.D. before launching the show to fill the Marvel void during S.H.I.E.L.D.’s midseason hiatus. It’s largely disconnected from the overall MCU, has a period setting, and is framed around the supporting cast of First Avenger.

It’s not the most obvious formula for a show, and sadly the numbers seem to back that up, but this series is an absolute blast. We love this era, we love Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, and we hope ABC really does have some faith to let this one find an audience with positive word of mouth and an eventual streaming and DVD release. Fingers crossed we’ll get a second season.

What’s your take on Agent Carter? Have you been watching?

(Via Entertainment Weekly)