The numbers are in! Many of you are likely wondering how well Showtime’s new John Ridley drama series “Guerrilla” – which premiered on Sunday night at 9pm – performed, following the controversy and debate around the project’s merits, which has all been well-documented (read all about it here to catch up if you need to).
The 1970s-set drama series on the British Black Power Movement, pulled in a 0.06 rating in the 18-49 demographic, and just 182,000 viewers for its premiere; a really weak number. The controversy aside, it probably wasn’t expected to be a major draw, given the subject matter and the fact that it’s ultimately a British series, but 182,000 viewers is noticeably low for a primetime premium cable TV series that received quite a bit of attention leading into its premiere; albeit not always *good* press; but press is press. Controversy typically sells; just not this time apparently.
So just how weak is that 182,000 viewers? To put the number into some perspective by comparing it to other current Showtime network series, “Homeland” averages over 1 million viewers per episode; “Ray Donovan” is solidly averaging over 1 million as well; “Billions” is averaging around 900,000 viewers per episode; and “Shameless” is averaging around 1.5 million viewers per episode.
And comparing it to another premium cable TV network’s numbers, HBO’s “The Leftovers” averages around 900,000 viewers; “Veep” draws around 1 million per episode; even Issa Rae’s half-hour freshman comedy series “Insecure” drew over 410,000 live TV viewers per episode.
And over at competing Starz newtork, “Power” drew close to 2 million viewers per episode, with over 900,000 for “Survivor’s Remorse” during their most recent seasons.
So, you get the picture. 182,000 viewers is markedly low compared to the average numbers that premium cable TV series tend to draw, especially one that got as much attention as this one did; again, granted it wasn’t always the right kind of attention, but in showbiz, any press (whether *good* or *bad*) is usually seen as a good thing. But it appears to have truly hurt “Guerrilla” which was probably already a tough series to sell to Stateside audiences, despite the names (John Ridley and Idris Elba) behind it.
Also, it’s been rated “fresh” with an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the critical recommendations didn’t seem to help either.
So what’s really unfortunate here is that we have a series that’s actually well-made, but isn’t being watched. One can only wonder what we’d be saying about its ratings today if the lead female character was a black woman, played by a black British actress, instead of an Indian woman, played by Freida Pinto. Would those of you who were fiercely critical of the series have tuned in if that were the case? Were you interested in the series in the first place (again, assuming the lead was a black female)? And if you did watch, what are your thoughts on the series? Will you return for the rest of the episodes?
It’s only just begun; there are still 5 episodes to go, so we’ll be watching to see if there’s any kind of a push higher, if the numbers stay the same, or, worse, they fall even lower. Showtime may actually want to just get this one over with, and put it behind them.
Obviously when DVR and SVOD (Showtime has a standalone streaming app) numbers come in, we’ll have a better idea of how well the series performs. But its live viewership numbers are already disastrous when compared to the live viewership numbers of other TV series on other premium cable TV networks, so some noticeable comparative change from DVR and SVOD numbers shouldn’t be expected.