No WINTER SOLDIER Ratings Bump for AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., MARIA HILL to Return Apr. 29

Maria Hill returns to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill returns to Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Update 6:25pm: As expected the final ratings for Tuesday night's Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. experienced an uptick of two tenths of a point, from the initial 1.7/6 rating to 1.9/6 in the key 18-49 demo. While still down from last week's 2.0/6, the significance of the uptick is that the episode no longer qualifies as a series low. That came on March 4 when it drew a 1.8.

Original story: Despite playing directly off the feature film with the biggest April box office opening of all time and a flurry of promos and free media over the weekend into Tuesday playing up the connection, the success of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier hasn’t moved the needle for ABC’s Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  … at least not yet.

Viewers didn’t seem to immediately respond to what was billed as an unprecedented film/TV crossover and a series-changing episode, as “Turn, Turn, Turn” turned in the freshmen drama’s lowest ratings yet. The overnight ratings show a 1.7/6 rating in the key 18-49 demo, down 15% against its April 1 episode and third in its timeslot vs. NBC’s The Voice (2.8/9) and CBS’s NCIS (2.6/8).

The Hollywood trades qualify the numbers noting S.H.I.E.L.D. will likely go up 1 of 2 tenths of a point when final ratings are in. There is at least the possibility of some backfire, as well, with people who haven't yet seen the film electing not to watch the new episode for fear of plot elements of one spoiling the other (which, admittedly, they do).

In the silver lining department, the show did lead the hour among Men 18-34 (1.5/6), and despite ratings that haven’t lived up to lofty expectations, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has boosted ABC’s ratings in the Tues. 8pm timeslot by 42% in Adults 18-49 vs. the year before.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also was Tuesday’s #1 most social primetime series across cable and broadcast with 63,826 tweets, up 124% from the prior week, according to zap2it.com.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has yet to be officially renewed for the 2014-15 season, and at this stage observers have to start wondering if ABC/Disney will renew the likely costly program on the strength of the vast improvements it delivers in the timeslot year-to-year and give it more time to grow creatively. The other possibility, of course, is that if the show doesn’t demonstrate any measurable upside to its connection to the highly-successful Marvel films, the studio will just end the experiment after a season.

The show’s creators are beginning to talk publicly about renewal too. In a new interview on Marvel.com announcing Cobie Smulders return to the show as Maria Hill (she camoed in the pilot) on the April 29 episode, executive producers Jeffry Bell and Jeph Loeb imply a second season renewal is still in play.

“In our world, we’re for it,” responds Bell, asked if fans might see even more of Maria Hill in future episodes. “[But first] we need a second season.”

“Let’s start with everyone who’s reading this, please take your S.H.I.E.L.D. badge and mail it to ABC and tell them that you want more S.H.I.E.L.D.,” adds a campaigning Loeb.

Before Hill/Smulders returns (SPOILERS!! as a Stark Industries employee, btw END SPOILERS), however, the show’s next test will be Tuesday April 15, when it airs “Turn, Turn, Turn” again in its regular 8pm timeslot, and then the next original episode “Providence” immediately after, in another effort to draw in more viewers in the wake of The Winter Soldier.

Expect the heavy promotionof the remaining season 1 episodes to continue, including a new post-“Turn, Turn, Turn” video (below).

On a final note (and SPOILERS ON again) as we surmised Monday, Agent Garrett’s ‘geniality’ became suspiciously conspicuous last week leading up to his reveal as a sleeper HYDRA agent this week, and Wednesday our radar is picking up how much Marvel is now promoting Agent Ward’s seeming betrayal. Given the twists and turns of the spy series in which roleplaying is a key element, we wonder if the show’s producers have a motivation for really wanting to convince viewers this week that Ward is a bad guy?

 

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