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State of the Screens

Yellowstone’s Premier Reaches New Heights

By November 18, 2021February 3rd, 2022No Comments

Big news: Paramount Network’s hit show Yellowstone posted the largest TV audience (14.7M viewers) for a scripted show since 2017 (The Walking Dead).

Big question #1: What makes this so impressive?

Quick answer: Yellowstone is airing on a low-profile cable network with no availability for next-day streaming. Peacock has the rights to the first three seasons for streaming.

Key details for Yellowstone:
1) Premiered in June 2018
2) Starring Kevin Costner
3) 39 episodes (including the current season)
4) The first prequel (1883) launches in December

Paging Mrs. Screens: 1883 will feature both Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Video: 1883 | Teaser | Paramount+

Yellowstone average viewership (YoY growth) according to Wikipedia:
1) Season 1 (2018) – 2.2M
2) Season 2 (2019) – 2.4M (↑ 5%)
3) Season 3 (2020) – 3.9M (↑ 66%)

Big question #2: Can this viewership possibly keep growing?

Quick answer: The comparison is already being made to how Breaking Bad grew viewership over time. Also, ViacomCBS could move this show to CBS and instantly increase the audience.


Asking for a friend: I live in a coastal city and haven’t heard of the top television show. What gives?

Quick answer: The media writes about acclaimed shows such as Succession, but rarely about Yellowstone, even though both have a virtually identical plot.

Viewers for 2021 premiere:
1) Yellowstone – 14.7M
2) Succession – 1.4M

Flashback: Two Americas, tuning each other out

PSA: This is something we wrote about back in June 2019 when comparing interest in Succession to WWE Raw.

Disclaimer: Mr. Screens is a fan of both Yellowstone and Succession. The consistent inclusion of “truck porn” gives an edge to Yellowstone.

Video: RAM Trucks Integration into Yellowstone


More #1: Yellowstone is one of TV’s biggest hits. What’s Yellowstone, anyway?


More #2: Yellowstone’s 8MM Viewers Never Got The Memo That Cable Was Dead


More #3: ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 Premiere: A Surprise Death, And A Tease With Tim McGraw As Dutton Patriarch In Prequel ‘1883’

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.