Did the ratings of Marvel's primetime TV venture live up to all those months of hype?
Last night's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere was bound to garner a fair number of viewers thanks to heavy marketing and its connection to worldwide blockbuster The Avengers, but even people who thought it would be big might not have expected it to be this big. The show picked up 11.9 million total viewers and a 4.6 rating in the key 18-49 demographic last night, making it the biggest premiere for a drama series since 2009.
That's an impressive feat, especially considering the competition the show had to face. S.H.I.E.L.D. went head-to-head last night with both NBC's singing competition powerhouse The Voice and CBS's procedural juggernaut NCIS, and neither of them could slow it down. The S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere solidly beat NCIS's 3.4 demo score, though NCIS still won the total viewers battle, and while The Voice's two-hour premiere managed to tie S.H.I.E.L.D.'s demo rating overall, the Marvel drama was winning during the 8-9 p.m. hour.
So, after months of anticipation,Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to not only put up premiere numbers that some network executives only thought of as fond memories, but also best some pretty stiff competition. It's cause for celebration, but the show is far from out of the woods on the ratings front. Next week we'll find out how many of those nearly 12 million viewers will want to stick around for episode two, and how many of them will still want to watch in primetime rather than catching the episode on their laptop the next day. It's also probably worth mentioning that the last drama premiere that got numbers this big was ABC's 2009 revival of V, which pulled in a whopping 14.30 million viewers with its premiere. It lost almost four million of those viewers by the second week, though, and by the end of its first season it was down to fewer than six million per episode, and it only managed to get renewed once. Let's hope that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can avoid similar dropoff.
What do you think? Was this a one-time, buzz-driven ratings victory, or will Agent Coulson and his team keep pulling in numbers like this?