Marvel Studios, like its heroes, are accustomed to total victory. Yet the comic empire is facing the prospect of a rare performance disappointment in Agent Carter, ABC’s Captain America spin-off starring Hayley Atwell. Despite strong-ish reviews, the period action drama debuted to semi-soft numbers last week, then dropped notably this week for its second episode—though there is still more DVR playback data to come.
“We feel very optimistic about it,” ABC entertainment president Paul Lee told reporters Wednesday when asked about the show’s ratings drop.
Addressing the performance of its other Marvel drama, Agents of SHIELD, along with Carter, Lee said: “SHIELD is actually a great and powerful show for us, [it’s 18-49 demo rating with seven days of DVR playback playback] pops up to a 3.0, it brings in a male audience for us and it’s creatively really strong now. We left a great cliffhanger at the end of Christmas and now it’s going to come back with some fantastic storylines. And to have Agent Carter in the [SHIELD hiatus] gap doing sort of double what we were doing there last year is great for us.”
Last night Agent Carter had 5.1 million and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49. For a new, lavishly produced drama series based on a known brand at 9 p.m., that’s considered a low next-day number. Last year ABC had episodes of The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife in the slot, which had a 1.4 rating. But on the other hand, it’s increasingly difficult to judge TV shows so early—Agent Carter‘s premiere has already grown to a 2.7 rating with DVR playback.
Though Agent Carter has been billed as a limited series due to its short-order seven-week run, it’s definitely a title that ABC would bring back for another season should it perform well.
One reporter wondered if ABC might feel more pressure to keep a Marvel title on the air compared to other shows given that the studio is part of ABC’s parent company Disney. “Nope, none at all,” he said. “This is us. We drive this.”
And far from being deterred, Lee hinted more Marvel programming may be in the works. “We have ambitions for Marvel in the future,” Lee said. “We love Marvel.”