Marvel has a respectable presence on the small screen nowadays, with series spanning network TV, basic cable, and more than one streaming service. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the show that started it all for Marvel TV, but the show has struggled in the ratings in recent seasons, to the point that fans had to cross their fingers that it wouldn't be cancelled. According to a new study, however, S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually more popular than any of the high-profile Marvel Netflix shows.
Yes, a new study courtesy of data science company Parrot Analytics (via Screen Rant) claims that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Marvel Television's strongest brand worldwide, meaning that its brand is stronger than all of Netflix's Marvel shows as well as the shows on other platforms. If this data is accurate, it's not altogether surprising that S.H.I.E.L.D. has a stronger brand than series like Cloak & Dagger and Runaways, which air on Freeform and Hulu respectively and haven't gained widespread attention just yet.
A bigger surprise is that S.H.I.E.L.D. reportedly has a stronger brand than Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and the other Marvel shows on Netflix. Admittedly, the recent cancellations of Iron Fist and Luke Cage (as well as the apparent unlikelihood of another season of The Defenders like the first) indicate that the show's brands weren't as strong as some expected. Still, having a stronger brand than the bigger Marvel Netflix hits is a big deal for S.H.I.E.L.D., if accurate.
Parrot Analytics, which measures demand for a variety of TV shows and has worked to identify the most in-demand series for the Guinness Book of Records, indicates that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. holds a rank in the top 0.03% of in-demand shows all over the world. Yes, 0.03% sounds like a very small number, but the massive number of shows available in the United States market alone means that even small numbers can represent huge amounts of data.
According to the analysis, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s place in the 0.03% places in among American shows like Criminal Minds, Better Call Saul, and Vikings. Shockingly, Parrot Analytics' numbers place S.H.I.E.L.D. above Fear the Walking Dead, Arrow, Supergirl, and of course others. The study assesses peer-to-peer traffic, social media activity, global file-sharing, and more to reach its conclusions. Basically, if it's a way that viewers interact with a certain show's brand on the internet, it's measured.
The strength of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brand certainly contrasts the show's ratings, which were disappointingly low throughout its fifth season. That said, S.H.I.E.L.D. was also moved to a Friday night slot for Season 5, and Friday night time slots rarely yield impressive ratings. After the cancellation of its lead-in, the future looked somewhat bleak for S.H.I.E.L.D., and the renewal for an abbreviated sixth season later than usual came as a big relief.
While shortened seasons can be a sign that a network is looking to wrap things up for a series (as is happening with Gotham over on Fox and may be happening with Criminal Minds on CBS), it's possible that there are larger reasons why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needed to have a shorter and delayed new season. Namely: the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War.
As Marvel fans everywhere know by now, Avengers: Infinity War ended in a way that had to shake up the entire MCU. Thanos triumphed over all the Avengers (other than Hawkeye), and his "snap" resulted in half the universe being erased. Many key MCU characters were turned to dust. Although none of the S.H.I.E.L.D. regulars appeared in Infinity War and S.H.I.E.L.D. actually explained why Quake wasn't helping the Avengers, Thanos' snap should have impacted the characters.
The Infinity War sequel is slated to hit theaters on May 4, 2019, and while an official premiere date has not yet been released for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6, all signs point toward a summer premiere. In fact, one S.H.I.E.L.D. star narrowed down the release window over the summer. If her words are accurate, S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 wouldn't hit the airwaves until well after the fourth Avengers movie became available.
By holding the next season of S.H.I.E.L.D. until after the Infinity War sequel, ABC and Marvel don't have to figure out a way for the show to deal with the events of the movie. Assuming the sequel finds a way to restore the majority of the dusted heroes to life -- after all, Spider-Man and Black Panther have movies coming out -- S.H.I.E.L.D. can just skip over the inconvenient details.
After S.H.I.E.L.D. basically had its original premise destroyed back in Season 1 thanks to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it would be nice for the show to focus on itself rather than deal with movie details. The show has split from the MCU more and more as the seasons passed, with even MCU plot twists like those of Captain America: Civil War not having the most significant impact.
Did S.H.I.E.L.D.'s lower ratings contribute to Season 6 being held until the summer schedule? Probably. Still, avoiding all things Infinity War and the Infinity War sequel may be best for the show and fans. We'll have to wait and see if airing in the summer results in S.H.I.E.L.D. losing some of its brand popularity compared to other Marvel series, especially considering Daredevil's long-awaited third season finally hit the web back in October. We'll have to wait and see.
The next Marvel show to hit the airwaves will be Runaways Season 2, which releases on December 21. If you want to spend the holidays with the Runaways now that they've actually run away, check out Hulu before the end of the year. Interestingly, Runaways will reportedly make its first legit MCU connection in the second season. For some non-Marvel superhero action, you can find plenty on The CW thanks to the Arrow-verse and Black Lightning, as well as on DC Comics' new streaming service, called DC Universe.