ABC Gives Full-Season Order to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Broadcast renewals outnumber cancellations—for now

ABC has given a back-nine order to its new drama series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., bringing the series to a complete run of 22 episodes.

Since premiering Sept. 24 to a sterling 12.1 million viewers and a 4.7 rating among adults 18-49, S.H.I.E.L.D. has settled into much more pedestrian deliveries. Episode 2 drew 8.66 million live-plus-same-day viewers, while Tuesday night’s installment scared up 7.87 million viewers and a 2.9 rating—down 38 percent from the premiere.

Ratings declines aside, S.H.I.E.L.D. was all but guaranteed an extended run, if only because it serves as a very visible advance marketing vehicle for The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, which arrives in multiplexes in 2015. It’s also a much-needed guy magnet for the estrogen-rich ABC.

The show also commands one of the highest ad rates for a freshman series. According to media buyers, the average 30-second spot in S.H.I.E.L.D. fetches around $170,000 a pop. Time in the premiere was even pricier ($290,000).

Co-created by Joss Whedon, S.H.I.E.L.D. is Marvel’s first scripted prime-time drama. The series stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, a character who first appeared in Whedon’s 2012 blockbuster The Avengers. The film raked in $1.51 billion at the global box office. 

Gregg’s supporting cast includes Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward and Chloe Bennet as Skye.

S.H.I.E.L.D. marks ABC’s first full-season order of the season. It joins Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, which was picked up for a second season, and NBC’s The Blacklist as the sole new series that have earned extended commitments. (The Michael J. Fox Show was given a 22-episode order back in August 2012 when NBC first committed to the series.)

Thus far into the 2013-14 campaign, only two freshman series have been canceled: ABC’s lottery drama Lucky 7 and the CBS comedy We Are Men.