In spite of a series that's starting to give fans what they say they want (Marvel Universe references, real character development, forward motion on Coulson's mystery), Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit another series low in the ratings last night.
That marks the series' seventh episode (of at least 22, since they've been picked up for a full first season) and the seventh consecutive time the show's ratings have hit a new low.
The episode, titled "The Hub," saw the team head to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and start to deal with the kind of internal strife that promises to drive much of the plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
According to TV By the Numbers, the series scored a 2.2 ratings and a 6 share in the 18-49 demographic that both S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead tend to perform very well in. That's not far off the 2.9/8 that the night's leader, NCIS, managed to score in the demo...but that show skews older and the overall numbers were overwhelmingly for NCIS.
The crime drama managed 19.2 million viewers last night, as opposed to Marvel's super-spies who came in second for the time slot among scripted series with just 6.63 million. Facing off against NCIS has taken a bigger and bigger bite out of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the weeks have worn on; at first, S.H.I.E.L.D. was reliably coming in as the night's overall #2 scripted show but now they're coming in behind NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest and Chicago Fire. Chicago Fire was returning from a hiatus with inflated numbers and will likely drop below S.H.I.E.L.D. next week but both Person of Interest and the NCIS shows have over 10 million viewers and S.H.I.E.L.D. is unlikely to catch them soon without a major shot in the arm.
However, The Motley Fool recently pointed out that there's little concern at ABC about the show's performance.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far has singlehandedly improved its time period for ABC by 105%, and in the process secured its spot as the network's top-rated series for that hour dating all the way back to 2009," the financial site pointed out, in an article that examined a number of other reasons Disney "doesn't care" that the ratings continue to fall.