On the film side of things, Marvel Studios is in great shape, having just turned in one of their most stellar years in their six-year history. Unfortunately for them, it hasn't gone as smoothly on TV. The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looked to piggyback on the momentum of the blockbuster Avengers film, but it received a shaky reception due to numerous issues discussed at length on the Screen Rant Underground podcast.
However, AoS managed to overcome those shortcomings late into the season, following the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in episode. We even discussed that viewers may have been bailing on the show just as it was becoming interesting, illustrating the fickle nature of sustaining a television series. Even a company as powerful as Disney/Marvel wasn't invincible.
By the time that season 1 concluded, we were convinced that it had done enough to earn another round, and Marvel wasted no time on building the anticipation for the new year by adding major additions to the cast - including Xena star Lucy Lawless and Adrianne Palicki (who is playing the Marvel character Mockingbird) - and teasing the challenges that the team would face in season two.
At long last, the kickoff episode "Shadow" aired on ABC Tuesday night in its new time at 9 p.m. and while we think that it's managing to smooth itself out, the general public isn't in agreement. Marvel executives would be better served not looking at the ratings reports.
In their wrap up of how the day's shows performed, Deadline revealed that the season two premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scored a 2.1 fast national (meaning, the number of people who watched the show live) number, which is greatly below the figure achieved by last year's series debut (4.6). That's about a 59 percent drop, which is quite alarming.
Granted, this does not take into account the Live+ ratings (which adds the number of people who watched the show on DVR within a week), but even then, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s numbers shouldn't improve that much. Deadline estimates that when those viewers are accounted for, the decrease between season premieres will improve from 59 percent to 58 percent.
No reason was given the sudden shift, but anyone familiar with the show's ratings performance shouldn't be too surprised. Arriving with much fanfare, the series premiere nabbed 12.12 million viewers, but just 5.45 for the finale. "Shadows" managed to attract a similar number to "Beginning of the End," meaning that Agent Coulson couldn't win over any new converts in the interim.
The most likely culprit is probably the changing opinion of the show amongst the general public. Everyone was still on an Avengers high when it arrived on the air (plus, Iron Man 3 had just grossed $1 billion worldwide), so people were hungry for an extension of the Marvel brand. But as it was a bumpy ride in the early going (with other options on other networks to choose from), S.H.I.E.L.D. struggled to maintain its audience.
It's still too early for fans of the show to panic, but if these are the types of ratings it's drawing, then the future may not be so bright. The show runners will now be under a lot of pressure to generate excitement as they look to build up towards next summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whatever they're doing now clearly isn't working and if things don't change soon, ABC may be forced to look elsewhere to fill this time slot. TV is just that unpredictable.
What do you think the lower ratings mean for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let us know in the comments section below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.