So. Marvel's Agent Carter.
After a solid, if slightly unspectacular, start - ratings wise, that is - last week, Marvel and ABC's brand new period actioner fell away a little on its second week of broadcast.
An initial total of 6.2 million viewers slipped to just 5.05 million, with the show's share of the crucial 18-49 market falling similarly.
So, should we be worried about the freshman show's chances of staying on the air?
Well, maybe not too much, as it happens.
The thing is, Agent Carter has - much like its title characters - a whole lot of cards up its sleeve.
For one thing...
Ratings Don't Matter All That Much
Or, at least, the total number of viewers doesn't matter as we all think it does. Networks are now far more interested in the share of 18-49 years olds (the primary audience for advertising) than in the overall numbers - and even that benchmark is slowly slipping in terms of importance.
Instead, a whole lot of what matters is the relative performance of the show - how it compares to other shows in its time-slot, and especially to other shows on the same network.
As Bill Gorman of TVByTheNumbers puts it:
"Fortunately for fans of individual TV shows, their renewal and cancellation decisions are a lot like the old joke about two guys being chased by a bear.
You don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the other guy!"
In this case, that means the direct competition Agent Carter faces on ABC.
And the key thing there?
Agent Carter Doesn't Have Much Direct Competition on ABC
Now, seeing as Agent Carter is essentially acting as a relief pitcher for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while it's on its winter break, its main source of competition on the network is actually a direct help to its chances of being picked up for another season (it's technically a limited series, but that doesn't mean ABC isn't hoping to bring it back next year). After all, if either show does well, the other is more likely to return to accompany it.
Add in the fact that ABC's Revenge, Forever and Galavant are all doing comparatively poorly, and the show has a surprisingly safe environment in which to develop.
It's Doing Surprisingly Well For Its Timeslot
Specifically, it's getting 5-6 million viewers while going up against the monolithic NCIS series - the New Orleans branch of which grabbed 16 million viewers opposite Agent Carter's second episode.
Add in Fox and NBC's sitcom blocks, and the CW's screening of superhero show Arrow re-runs, and there's every reason to believe that the show is doing about as well as any series could in the time-slot its screening in.
And, of course, there's one other key factor...
The Ratings We See Aren't Actually All That Accurate
Or, rather, they are, but only if you count nothing more than the initial, live, viewers of the show when it first screened.
If you add in the people who watch it over first few days after broadcast - usually via DVR - though, then you get a very different idea of the number of viewers for the show.
In the case of Agent Carter's second episode, the ratings go up from 5.05 million viewers to 7.5 million - and, crucially, the show's share of that vital 18-49 demographic jumps substantially, too. If it eventually receives the same bounce that its first episode did over the week following its initial broadcast - a massive 43% jump in the number of 18-49 year-olds who watched it - then it could well be considered a seriously safe bet for a second series...
No wonder, then, that ABC entertainment president Paul Lee recently came out to defend the drop in the show's ratings - revealing that, “We feel very optimistic about it.”
As, it seems, they should...