While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has continued to perform well in its key demographics and has been consistently getting some of the biggest lifts in the TV industry from DVR numbers, analysts and the mainstream media are starting to take note of the fact that the first live action TV series from Marvel Studios has been shedding overall numbers consistently since its premiere.
"Here’s how the Marvel series has tracked so far in the adult demo: A 4.7 rating for the show’s premiere, then 3.3, 2.9, 2.8 and now a 2.6," said Entertainment Weekly in its ratings roundup. They explained, "It’s common for even successful and long-running new shows to drop the first two weeks after their launch, or even for three weeks. But now we’re on Week 5....Yet S.H.I.E.L.D. is still trending down."
TV By the Numbers reports that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been adjusted up to a 2.7, which doesn't change EW's narrative but does indicate that the rate at which the show is shedding viewers seems to have stabilized.
They note that the series, which had the highest drama debut in four years when it bowed last month, has been getting warmer reviews from fans and critics, but that hasn't translated to an increase in ratings yet. Meanwhile, shows that opened far softer and even some underperformers that have been in danger of cancellation have stabilized or have started to trend up after word-of-mouth on series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Mom has been generally positive.
It probably doesn't help that S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself facing off against the ratings juggernaut that is NCIS, and that without familiar Marvel names and faces, those two shows aren't entirely dissimilar (crazy crime of the week, etc.). The comments on the EW article are a testament to just how many people watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online or on their DVR because they're enjoying NCIS live.