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ABC and Marvel have been actively trying to build up hype and excitement for the return of Agent Carter. After spending presumably a fair amount on marketing materials, commercial air time, and tie-ins with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be assumed that the network was expecting decent first episode viewership. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened last night, resulting in some of Agent Carter’s worst ratings to date.
Season 2’s two-hour premiere episode titled “The Lady In the Lake” in the first hour and “A View In The Dark” for the back half brought rather dismal numbers in for ABC. A mere 3.2 million people tuned in to see Agent Carter travel to Los Angeles in an attempt to protect the US from atomic level threats. Considering that premieres generally bring high viewership which will slowly decrease, as Agent Carter’s first season did, it’s a bit of a red flag for the season to start off at such a low.
The concern for Agent Carter is only increased when looking at the episode’s rating among adults between 18-49. Variety is reporting that Season 2 kicked off with a .9 rating among adults, which is fairly tragic compared to other superhero series. So, what exactly happening at ABC that is resulting in these numbers?
To start, DC and Marvel had a major battle for viewership last night. The two-hour premiere of Agent Carter was preceded by a special titled “Marvel’s Captain America: 75 Heroic Years”. The Captain America special drew in similarly poor numbers, and since so few people were watching the special, it didn’t give a boost to Agent Carter’s premiere.
The CW was airing an entire night of new footage and sneak peeks for their upcoming Extended Universe at the exact same time as Agent Carter titled “Dawn of The Justice League”. This special provided much more juicy programming for comic book fans, including new footage from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, an amazing trailer for Suicide Squad, and announcements regarding which DC heroes will be joining the Justice League and having their own spinoff films. How was Agent Carter supposed to compete with the slew of nerd fodder that the CW was whipping out?
Agent Carter is also just not the ratings powerhouse that other superhero shows are. It’s a limited series that helps to bridge the gap and entertain the audience of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the midseason hiatus. Carter is a limited series (only 8 episodes were produced last season) that, while critically acclaimed, has never been a ratings juggernaut, although DVR growth has helped considerably.
While Agent Carter is one of the most exciting and connected aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s unclear if the show will be able to continue with these numbers. Peggy has been present in multiple films, made appearances on S.H.I.E.L.D, and helps to connect the MCU projects. Here’s to hoping that the numbers turn around and we get much more of Agent Carter in the future.