The Season 4 Finale drew more than 10 million viewers on Sunday evening.
Millions of viewers tuned in to watch the cliffhanger-crammed Season 3 Finale of Yellowstone on Aug. 23, 2020. But millions more watched when the Season 4 Finale was simulcast Sunday evening on Paramount Network and CMT.
How many more million? Consider: 9.3 million total tuned in to Paramount Network alone — up 81 percent from the 5.2 million who watched the Season 3 Finale. Add the CMT viewership, and you have 10.3 million total — up 79 percent versus the Season 3 Finale (5.8 million). All of which makes the Season 4 Finale the most-watched episode of a scripted series on cable since the Season 3 premiere of The Walking Dead back in October 2017.
For those of you who like to dive into demographics: For all of Season 4, Yellowstone averaged 1.9 million P18-49, up 95% versus Season 3 (975,000), and 2.6 million P25-54, up 100 percent versus Season 3 (1.3 million) – making it the No. 1 series of 2021 across broadcast, cable and premium TV.
And if you were Tweeting as the drama unfolded Sunday evening — like the multitudes following our Live Tweets at #ciYellowstone — you were not alone: According to SCR Talkwalker, the Season 4 Finale was the No. 1 most social telecast ever for Yellowstone, surpassing the previous Season 3 Finale by more than 115 percent.
Not bad for a series that was rejected by HBO, eh?
No kidding: Producer and co-creator Taylor Sheridan had originally pitched Yellowstone to the pay-cable giant, and even wrote the first two episodes on spec. “But then I sat with the senior vice-president of HBO,” Sheridan told C&I last year, “who told me that they weren’t going to go forward with it. And when I asked why, he said, ‘Nobody wants to see this. Nobody wants to see a movie about this. And you don’t understand why anybody is sitting out there in the first place. The whole thing should be a park.’ And I said, ‘Buddy, you’re the exact reason that I’m making this.’”
Fortunately, Sheridan found more receptive decision-makers at Paramount Network.
“Paramount got hold of the script and read it,” he said, “and flew me down to LA. They told me: ‘We want to make this. No development, no nothing. We want you to go shoot it.’ And at this time, Paramount was really trying to rebrand from being Spike TV. They really wanted to push and become this premium cable outlet. But I didn’t necessarily believe that they could do it. I said, ‘I don’t know if this is the right thing for you, because it’s so ambitious. It’s going to be so expensive. It’s not going to make sense from a production standpoint.’
“But they had such an appetite for it, they said, ‘We’re going to do this,’ and they did.”
And the rest is ratings history.
Photography: (All images) courtesy Paramount Network