Last night Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued their final pod of season four with another episode of the “Agents of Hydra” storyline. The overnight ratings have come in and, as always, there are a couple ways to look at the data. The first way would be the announcement ABC made via Twitter.
ABC’s ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Is No. 1 at 10 p.m. in Adults 18-49 With Its Biggest Overall Audience Since January pic.twitter.com/FG4b2O9viI
— ABC Publicity (@ABC_Publicity)
Now all of that statement is true. The overall hopeful tone of it, however, lacks some context. For those watching the actual numbers, last night’s rating essentially held steady with the week before. Again the rating was a .7/3, but the show gained in overall viewers, up to 2.32 from 2.2 million. (For those new to ratings the overall viewer number is less important than the rating, because advertisers are not as interested in those outside the 18-49 “demo.”) So it wasn’t a bad week, but it also was essentially the same week as last week. In fact, the show has held steady around this kind of performance for most of the “LMD” and “Agents of Hydra” pods. While it is understandable that ABC Publicity would put the best spin on things possible, those who love the show shouldn’t misunderstand last night as a “game changer” in any way.
ABC did win the 10:00PM slot, in a tie with NCIS: New Orleans for first. The catch there would be that the latter was running a rerun this week, as was previous week’s champ Chicago Fire. So that victory doesn’t indicate growth for the ABC Marvel property as much as the underperformance of its opponents. There are as many 18-49 year olds who want to watch an old NCIS: New Orleans as a brand new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Both of the other shows running in that spot regularly defeat S.H.I.E.L.D. when they both air new content and last night doesn’t change that dynamic.
As for what this means, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. It isn’t fair to the hard data to suggest this is either triumphant or disastrous. The positive side is that things are not slipping. When looking at renewal ABC is looking at a steady ship, not a sinking one. The flip side is that the live ratings are showing no improvement for this seemingly popular story line. It will still be a couple weeks for the L+7 numbers, which may show improvement. The show is still a toss up according to tvbythenumbers.