Halt And Catch Fire's Ratings Sluggish During AMC's Premiere

By Jessica Rawden 2014-06-02 16:11:22 discussion comments
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Thanks to slick marketing from AMC and a slew of pretty good reviews, Halt and Catch Fire did a fine job of getting its name and its premise out to potential audiences before the show’s premiere. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the advertising and the reviews were enough to garner much interest. Halt and Catch Fire’s premiere only brought in 1.2 million total viewers when it aired on AMC on Sunday night.

Those numbers are bad for cable, but especially for AMC, who has a few dramas that are ratings hits enough to rival the numbers CBS pulls in. The network also has a few lower rated dramas, but in comparison, Halt and Catch Fire’s numbers really aren’t hot. For example, when Low Winter Sun premiered last fall, the show’s first episode brought in 2.5 million total viewers, yet Low Winter Sun was quickly canceled by the network. Oppositely, THR is noting that AMC’s more recent period drama, Turn, launched to 2.1 million viewers. These numbers are underwhelming, but are still quite a bit higher than those Halt and Catch Fire brought in.

It doesn’t get better from here. While 1.2 million people actually tuned in for the episode, only a small faction of those viewers belonged in the coveted 18-49 demo. According to reports, Halt and Catch Fire brought in 433,000 viewers in the advertising demo, which makes up around 1/3 of the premiere’s overall viewership. I guess I wouldn’t expect a lot of young people to tune in to a show about the dawn of the Internet era and the rise of computers. Plus, it may not help that the show was available on numerous online platforms, giving tech savvy youngsters plenty of opportunity to catch the pilot before it officially aired on cable.

These online platforms may be a distant light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike most of its previous efforts, AMC has tried a lot of new marketing ideas related to Halt and Catch Fire. The pilot was screened at SXSW to a large audience. Then, it became the first series to premiere via TUMBLR. Finally, AMC had the show up and running on its website for two weeks before it actually hit the network. According to AMC President Charlie Collier, the show received hundreds of thousands of plays leading up to the premiere. Add in DVR views and that could certainly lead the show to produce improved ratings in the coming weeks. The real question is: will it be enough?

Personally, I couldn’t recommend Halt and Catch Fire more. The show was branded as a revolutionary computer drama, which really had the potential to run dry. However, it’s an extremely fun drama with characters who blaze brightly on the small screen and should leave plenty in their wake for audiences to talk about. The show’s not as introspective as Mad Men and it doesn’t offer straight up action like The Walking Dead, but it is its own brand of interesting, and I hope it doesn’t stray from the network’s schedule anytime soon. You can decide for yourself when Halt and Catch Fire airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.
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