Leading up to the series’ premiere after this year’s Super Bowl game, a key concern that fans of the original “24” series (which starred Kiefer Sutherland and ran for 9 seasons) had about its spin-off, “24: Legacy” (which features a new face in the lead, played by Corey Hawkins), was whether they would still appreciate the action-drama without their beloved Jack Bauer (Sutherland) running the show.
Thus far, the answer leans towards the negative; the overhaul of the real-time thriller without its original lead Jack Bauer hasn’t been quite the success that Fox hoped it would be.
Taking the viewership numbers for “24: Legacy” since it premiered, it’s very clear that audiences continue to lose interest in it from week to week, which is unfortunate for all those involved in its production, both in front of and behind the camera.
Its post-Super Bowl premiere drew a strong 17.5 million viewers, holding onto some of the eyeballs that stuck around after the big game to check out the series’ first episode. That number wasn’t expected to hold over successive episodes; unless it had a major lead-in like the Super Bowl every week, which it doesn’t. Since episode 2, it’s lost up to 1 million viewers for every episode that’s followed; episode 2 drew 6.2 million viewers; episode 3 drew 5.1 million viewers; 4.4 million tuned in for episode 4; and 3.9 watched episode 5. These are all live numbers, so one can make the argument that there are those who are watching the series after it airs, via DVR, Hulu, etc. But the live numbers are ultimately what still count when it comes to ad revenue, and even if you consider that there are some who aren’t watching the series live, they wouldn’t make up for the sharp slippage that its live viewership has seen every week since its premiere.
In short, it’s not delivering, and Fox TV chiefs know this and are concerned.
“I’m a little sad because I feel like it’s a really good show,” Fox TV CEO Dana Walden told Deadline in a piece published yesterday. “It’s not terrible [but] we had really high hopes for the show… I’m feeling mixed. I feel very proud of the show and extremely grateful to the creators and the great actors who have done a really wonderful job… I would love nothing more than to bring it back because I thought it was great… But we’re just going to have to see how our pilots come in, how it continues to perform and weigh all of the information we have in May.”
None of that sounds very encouraging if you’re a fan of the series, or you’re employed because of it. With 6 episodes left to go of its 12-episode season, assuming its numbers continue to slide every week as they have been, what are the odds that Fox sees it all the way to the end of the season? At this rate, unless the numbers suddenly turn around, it’s probably unlikely that it will be renewed for another season. But will Fox yank it from its schedule before the current season ends?
Before the finger-pointing begins (many fans of the original weren’t pleased with Corey Hawkins taking over as the series lead), a question that first needs to be asked is whether there was enough audience interest in a “24” reboot/spin-off to begin with, or whether the 9-season original series had run its course with Keifer Sutherland, and shouldn’t have been revisited at all. The last season, which was a limited season titled “24: Live Another Day” (2014) wasn’t as big a hit as the previous seasons of “24” (although reasons can be debated), drawing 5 to 6 million live viewers compared to the 9 to 12 million the season before it. Much has obviously changed in the last 5 years in terms of how we watch television, so some of the drop-off can be explained by that evolution. But the question still should’ve been asked first. An argument could be made that no matter who the series lead was, audience interest would’ve been about the same as it is now.
Fox also thought a reboot of “The X-Files” was a good idea, but critics and fans thought otherwise; and despite a strong start, it continued and went away rather unenthusiastically, ending with less than half the viewership it started with, and declining critic reviews over the course of the season. And the stars of the original series returned, so it wasn’t a case of a rebooted “X-Files” with new leads, as is the case with “24: Legacy.”
Have you been keeping up with the series? If so, your thoughts so far?
“24: Legacy” airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox in the US.