It may surprise more than just a few Millennials (and Gen Z-ers) to learn that paranormal television plots of the 1960s often came in the form of light-hearted sit-coms, such as “My Favorite Martian”, “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Genie.” Indeed, it may say something of our current unsettled times that these sit-coms of yesteryear have given way to much darker, brooding sci-fi shows, such as TNT’s “Falling Skies”, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “MTV’s “Teen Wolf.” And you can add to this list the teen-age / young adult fantasy series, “Shadowhunters” which returns for a second season on January 2nd, 2017 on Freeform (formerly the ABC Family.)
The basis for “Shadowhunters” is the highly successful young adult book series entitled “The Mortal Instruments,” which first spawned a not-so-successful 2013 movie (“City of Bones”) before morphing into Freeform’s cable series, “Shadowhunters.” The general plot revolves around the teenager, Clary Fray (played by the young actress, Katherine McNamara) who makes an unsettling discovery at the tender age of eighteen: she is a Shadowhunter, just like her mom – one who hunts down demons (of the bad variety) before they can harm defenseless mere mortals. But Clary’s mom, Jocelyn, (played by the Canadian actress, Maxim Roy) has been kidnapped and after a few fortuitous meetings, Clary joins forces with other young Shadowhunters (such as Jace Wayland – actor, Dominic Sherwood) to find her mom, slay the evil-doers, and keep the world safe for all humanity. Or something like that.
Full disclosure: The show has not received the greatest reviews from TV critics, and “Shadowhunters” has fallen short of the popularity garnered by the fantasy book series that spawned the show. Still, the inaugural season attracted a respectable .59 average Live U.S. household rating, which was slightly higher than what Freeform averaged during the 9pm timeslot in which “Shadowhunters” airs. More importantly, DVR ratings are quite impressive – a sure sign of viewer interest and engagement in the show:
Small, Southern Market Skew
The initial action in “Shadowhunters” takes place in an urban setting (Clary has a pretty cool loft in Brooklyn), but the show’s popularity is actually rural and quite southern. Below is a list of the Top 25 DMAs ranked by household rating size through the first five episodes of Season One. The #1 market is Chattanooga, Tennessee with a household rating (1.43) which is nearly double the national average; the #25 market is Corpus Christi, Texas with a rating that is 40% higher. Nearly three-quarters of the Top 25 markets are located in the South. Note, as well, the household market size rank — out of ~210 DMAs, many of the smallest accrued the highest household ratings:
Local Cable Advertising
“Shadowhunters” has been on air for only one season, so we have no baseline comparisons to quantify year-over-year sales metrics. All in all, the data for Season One are somewhat lower than other first-year series we have written about in this space. “Shadowhunters” attracted over 30 inaugural local advertisers who ordered 250 spots across 27 Viamedia markets (over one-third of Viamedia’s national footprint.) That comes to an average of over 7 spots per client. (Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
In terms of local cable advertising categories, Tune-In (TV/Radio/Media) captures the lion’s share at 44% — a figure that is significantly higher than what we normally see for high profile programming. Our sense is that competing networks are especially eager to reach “Shadowhunters’” young skewing audience. Automotive — usually the predominant category with an average share of +30% — places a distant second at 13%, followed closely by Entertainment & Travel (12%):
On to Season Two
Hunting down evil demon shadows that can instantly change identities is no mean feat. But the real challenge for “Shadowhunters” goes way beyond the metaphysical as it enters its sophomore season. It never hurts, of course, to start with young, naturally good-looking main characters. But even they require a credible dialogue issuing forth from their mouths. Fortunately, the show fits rather nicely into the fantasy “good versus evil” television genre that has taken hold since the start of the new millennium. But that doesn’t give “Shadowhunters” a free pass when it comes to creating coherent narratives and action scenes. So, as the show enters its second season with a decent audience following from Year One, the writers and directors would do well to remember that there’s no such thing as a guaranteed, built-in audience — especially with all the linear TV and digital options that exist today.
Written by Jonathan Sims
VP Media Research, Viamedia