One of the great mysteries of Canadian TV is how it’s so similar to American TV, yet so different. A great example would be Canadians’ interest in superhero shows, like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Flash and Lucifer, which have lukewarm ratings down south.
Let’s look at SHIELD’s April 26 episode “The Singularity.” It snagged 3.22 million viewers on ABC in the U.S., but here in Canada over on CTV, it went a hair over 1.9 million viewers.
Keep in mind that the population of the U.S. is around nine times greater than the population of Canada. (Based on recent estimates, the U.S. population should be around 323 million, while Canada’s should be in the neighbourhood of 36 million.)
Using my absolutely awful math skills, if the episode got 1.9 million viewers in Canada on CTV, it should have an audience of nearly 17 million in the U.S., but it’s nowhere near that.
I know what some of you are thinking: the 3.22 million on ABC and 1.9 million on CTV isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. The 3.22 million is for primetime live and same-day numbers, while CTV’s numbers include seven days of playback. But unless 13 million people decided to watch the ABC broadcast in the U.S. within seven days, that’s still a huge gap.
You can see a similar disparity when you look at The Flash’s numbers where it got 3.39 million on The CW. Putting aside that it’s absolutely crazy that it did better than SHIELD, which airs on a network that has been around since almost the dawn of time, it drew roughly 1.8 million on CTV. That’s a big drop from the 16 million or so it should’ve gotten if the American audience matched the Canadian audience. Again, there are roughly 13 million people missing.
The gap isn’t as wide for some other shows. NCIS aired a rerun for the same night that the SHIELD and Flash episodes aired that I mentioned above. That rerun drew nearly 1.3 million on Global but 10.25 million on CBS. When you factor in the fact that Global’s numbers take into consideration seven days of playback, the numbers are around the same mark. The U.S. numbers might even be a bit higher. Usually the first run episode gain four million viewers when live+7 is considered, but since it was a rerun, I have doubts the jump was that high.
The reason why NCIS’ ratings on both sides of the border is nearly on par may be because its audience seems to be on the older side while fans of The Flash and SHIELD are usually younger. The general consensus seems to be that older folks still like watching TV on TV, but younger folks couldn’t care less about that. Those younger people just download or stream in everything from the Internet instead and then take to the Internet again to bitch when their show gets axed because of low ratings.
The Flash and SHIELD are probably on TV not because their broadcast numbers are hot in the U.S. (they’re not), but because of online and streaming numbers. I bet even if ABC and The CW were to count their streaming numbers for those shows, that the actual audience is still much bigger than that because something tells me pirates jump on making illegal streams/downloads of those shows available. (Seriously, if you pirate network TV stuff shortly after it has aired, what’s wrong with you?)
Anyway, for more on the week’s top shows, check out Numeris at the source link.
(Featured Image: Promotional image of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’s April 26 episode “The Singularity” via Bell Media)