Marvel has been getting all kinds of buzz for its big screen and Netflix ventures lately, but not too many people have been talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. The show recently entered its fourth season in a brand new time slot on Tuesday nights, and it had the potential to do better than ever with the addition of new comic characters and bold changes to the status quo. The big question has been of how it would do in the ratings with the new changes, and the answer so far is... not so well.
Preliminary numbers indicate that the fourth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 scored the lowest ratings for the entire series to date. It attracted only 2.56 million viewers and a 0.8 rating in the valuable 18-49 demographic in the 10 p.m. ET time slot. It was also far behind the other 10 p.m. network shows. CBS's NCIS: New Orleans won 9.6 million viewers and a 1.2 in the demo, and NBC's Chicago Fire nabbed 7.4 million and a 1.7 in the demo. TVLine reports that even The Flash on the diminutive CW did better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.--albeit at 8 p.m. not 10 p.m., and The Flash has been in a ratings slump. Things aren't looking great for Phil Coulson and Co. on S.H.I.E.L.D.
Of course, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a genre show unlike anything else on network television, so it's not necessarily fair to compare it to other more mainstream series on CBS and NBC. The 10 p.m. timeslot is also a traditionally tough one on network TV. What may be more troubling for the future of the series are its own earlier numbers. The 2.5 million viewers and 0.8 demographic for Episode 4 of Season 4 is a significant drop from the 3.4 million viewers and 1.11 demo won by the season premiere last month. To compare even further, Episode 4 of last season scored 3.8 million viewers and a 1.48 in the 18 - 49 demographic. In the span of a year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dropped by more than 1 million viewers and nearly 0.7 in the demo.
Fans shouldn't start panicking yet, however. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't been a huge ratings winner since way back in Season 1, and it has stayed on the air so far. There's also always the chance that a Marvel blockbuster on the big screen could result in a ratings bump for the Marvel show.
Doctor Strange will hit theaters on November 4, and the mystical elements of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 could be perfect for any Doctor Strange fans who decide to check out what Marvel has to offer on the small screen. The appeal of Ghost Rider evidently hasn't been enough to hook viewers en masse, but maybe Doctor Strange could give a much-needed boost.
Tune in to ABC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET to see what's next for the Coulson and Co. on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you're still on the fence about Season 4, check out our breakdown of why you should give the show a chance sooner rather than later.