Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” came galloping back to TV after more than a yearlong absence as its two-part Season 4 premiere on linear TV soared to 14.7 million viewers in Nielsen’s L3 ratings without any boost from streaming.
The neo-western ensemble drama, anchored by Kevin Costner as a wealthy rancher, had its Season 3 finale in August 2020. Sunday’s Season 4 premiere already impressed by delivering nearly 8 million linear viewers in Nielsen’s live-same day ratings. The series hails from showrunner/executive producer Taylor Sheridan, who is launching two more series with ViacomCBS’ Paramount Network soon: dramas “Mayor of Kingston” and ‘Yellowstone” spinoff “1883.”
“Over 14 million viewers tuned in for our ‘Yellowstone’ premiere, which will now serve as a massive launch pad as we sneak episodes of Taylor Sheridan’s new series ‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ whose full season will be rolling out exclusively on Paramount Plus starting Sunday,” said Chris McCarthy, President and CEO, MTV Entertainment Group. “Taylor has created a cinematic experience that our remarkable cast led by Kevin Costner brings to life in a way audiences can’t get enough of and we are excited to deepen our relationship with him and capitalize on this tremendous momentum by building out the ‘Yellowstone’ franchise together,” he added. “Mayor of Kingstown” and “1883” are first-up from Sheridan’s exclusive multi-year pact with MTV Entertainment and ViacomCBS, which includes scripted and procedural series for streaming and linear.
As of now, the show stands as the #1 series of 2021 across all television— which includes broadcast, cable, and premium networks, and it is the most-watched season premiere on cable since “The Walking Dead” in 2017.
The 14.7 million figure is up 58% compared to “Yellowstone’s” Season 3 premiere (9.3 million) and the show’s premiere simulcast across Paramount Net, CMT, Pop and TV Land is up 66% compared to its Season 3 premiere (12.7 versus 7.6 million viewers). When looking at the figures from the Season 4 premiere on Paramount Network alone, the drama is up 10.5 million total viewers— 60% in comparison with its Season 3 premiere (6.5 million). In terms of the target, ages 18-49 demographic, it is up 64% in ratings (4.19 versus 2.56).
The return of “Yellowstone” also benefitted from a concerted promotional push across the MTV Entertainment Group channels and digital platforms that McCarthy oversees which include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land and Logo in addition to Paramount Network. ViacomCBS’ AVOD streamer Pluto served up numerous “Yellowstone” catch-up marathons to expand the audience for the series.
Per Philo’s weekly streaming insights, “Yellowstone” was the top-watched show in many markets near the Wyoming home of the national park and the Montana ranch where the series is filmed, including Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Helena and Great Falls in Montana; Casper and Cheyenne in Wyoming, and Idaho Falls (Jackson) and Twin Falls in Idaho.
“Yellowstone” also did well in cities that are more heavily agriculture and livestock-fucsed, such as Abilene, Amarillo, Boise, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Evansville, Laredo, Lexington, Louisville, Lubbock, Topeka, and Wichita. (Those Tractor Supply and Ram-Trucks branded-media buys were not in vain.)
Co-created by Sheridan and John Linson, “Yellowstone’s” executive producers include John Linson, Art Linson, Taylor Sheridan, Kevin Costner, David C. Glasser, Bob Yari and Stephen Kay.
The ensemble cast includes Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie Smith, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, Finn Little, Ryan Bingham and Gil Birmingham with Will Patton. Season 4’s guest stars are Jacki Weaver, Piper Perabo and Kathryn Kelly.