The 'Yellowstone' S4 Premiere Proves Cable TV Is Still Popular

'Yellowstone'Credit: Paramount+
Wait—how many people watched Yellowstone

Hollywood always talks about finding untapped audiences, and they know they have one in the middle of the country. But networks and studios rarely can figure out what to give them.

They should have asked Taylor Sheridan a long time ago. His massive hit TV show, Yellowstone, entered its fourth season on Paramount+ Sunday night, debuting with two episodes back-to-back. 

The premiere of season four drew 8.38 million viewers, with the second episode coming in over eight million as well.

For some context, that makes it the most-watched cable series episode since a 2017 episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, and it also had more viewers than Game of Thrones in its fourth season, which drew 6.6 million for its opener on HBO. 

“Taylor has created a riveting world that our remarkable cast led by Kevin Costner brings to life in a way audiences can’t get enough of. The Yellowstone season four premiere numbers are just another reason why we are thrilled to deepen our relationship with Taylor and capitalize on this tremendous momentum by building out the Yellowstone franchise together,” said Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group, in a statement. 

They're spinning off Yellowstone and giving it a prequel, which will take place in the times of the old West. That seems smart, given how many people have invested in the show and how it's growing. 

Another thing that makes this show different is that it drops weekly and has commercial breaks. I know many people grew up watching shows like that, but let's be honest, they stopped being as popular when streamers came around and dropped an hour a week, or even released seasons at a time.

Yellowstone is a throwback to event TV, events we haven't really had since Game of Thrones, in terms of numbers.  

Still, Yellowstone is not even the top-rated show this year. CBS’ NCIS took in 8.45 million with its season debut.

While many of us get into prestige TV and niche dramas, it's important to remember that there's an entire population out there still tuning into network shows every week. These shows, especially the ones with commercial breaks, are cash cows for the networks and employ hundreds if not thousands of people. 

So when you're trying to come up with your next idea for a TV show, think about networks along with your cable series. There are still people watching, and they contain the most popular shows in the United States. And think about an audience who's big and looking for something, as well.      

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