tv: smallville 8

On Agent Carter and Ratings

I see a lot of doom-sayers casting shade on Agent Carter (and I know I just reblogged one - mostly for the links to ways to access it legally), but it’s worth saying: Agent Carter is by no means doing badly.

I don’t know if it’s marketing trying to get more people to watch by making us feel like we might lose our female led superhero TV show, or the media in general trying to downplay the success of a female led superhero TV show, but Agent Carter is by no means doing badly.

Some ratings for comparison:

Recent superhero TV pilots:

Agent Carter pilot: 7 million viewers (6.91)

Arrow pilot: 4 million viewers (4.14)

The Flash pilot: 5 million viewers (4.83)

Gotham pilot: 8 million viewers (8.21)

Agents of SHIELD: 12 million viewers (12.12)

Pilots for the most successful superhero TV shows ever:

Smallville pilot: 8 million (8.4)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot: 3 million (3.3)

So, just to be clear: Agent Carter is not only not failing, it had a distinctly successful pilot for this kind of TV show. It easily outstripped Arrow, which is now into its third season. It had more than twice the number of viewers of Buffy’s pilot, and only a million less than Smallville, which ran for 10 seasons.

As for people talking about a drop off this week… if you want to talk about a drop off, let’s take a look at  Agents of SHIELD. This show was hotly anticipated, drawing in the largest viewers for a pilot of a superhero TV show at 12.12 million. The next week viewership dropped to 8.6 million. That’s 3.5 million viewers they lost for their second episode. Agent Carter dropped to 5.10 - still a thoroughly respectable number, and only 1.8 million viewers lost.

It’s perfectly normal to have less viewers for the second episode than for the pilot when a show is anticipated. Contrast Buffy with Agents of SHIELD. One was hotly anticipated and got a very large audience, but lost a lot of that audience because many found it to not meet expectations. Buffy was an almost completely unknown quantity, but built to have a large and loyal audience because, well, it was very good.

What does that mean for Agent Carter? Well, it suggests that it was more anticipated than Arrow and The Flash, but less than Agents of SHIELD. And the drop for the second episode? Statistically not significant at all. Arrow dropped less for it’s second episode, but it had less viewers to drop - the second episode of Arrow had just 3.5 million viewers. The Flash dropped by almost exactly the same amount as Arrow - roughly half a million. Smallville dropped by 1.1 million. Gotham dropped by 1.2 million. Buffy dropped just 0.2 million.

Get this, though: at it’s most successful, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had 7.7 million viewers.

So, if someone tells you Agent Carter is doing badly, remember this: the pilot episode had almost as many viewers as Buffy had at its most successful.

It’s doing fine. And if it gets axed because of ‘poor viewing figures’ we’ll know that that’s grade A sexism.