Yellowstone Episode 2 Brings 5 Million Viewers to CBS

The second episode of “Yellowstone” brought an average 5 million viewers to CBS when it aired on Sunday night.

This marks a 24% decrease from last week, when the Taylor Sheridan-created series made its debut on broadcast television with a strong 6.6 million viewers — though it should be noted that CBS did not air an NFL doubleheader on Sunday ahead of its own programming the way it did the week before. Like last week, though, Episode 2 of “Yellowstone” benefitted by airing after “60 Minutes,” a consistent ratings-bringer for CBS that was watched by 7.2 million average viewers on Sunday.

Among adults 25-54, the “Yellowstone” episode scored a 0.6 rating, down from a 0.9 the week before.

Titled “Kill the Messenger,” the episode made an obviously major leap from the 2 million viewers it reached when it first aired on Paramount Network in 2018. And for a more recent comparison, viewership of the first installation of Season 5 ranged between 7.6 million and 9.5 million viewers from its Paramount Network premiere in November of 2022 to its conclusion in January.

Episode 3, “No Good Horses,” aired directly after Episode 2 and retained much of its viewership, keeping an even 0.6 rating and dropping slightly to 4.5 million viewers.

The early performance of “Yellowstone” on broadcast TV suggests a successful play by CBS, which imported the drama along with other titles from within the Paramount ecosystem — such as “SEAL Team” which started on the network before moving to Paramount+ two years ago. These shifts from streaming and cable towards broadcast allow CBS to continue airing scripted projects throughout the fall despite that hallmark titles like “NCIS” and Young Sheldon” won’t be ready to return to production until the end of the Hollywood strikes. (The writers strike, it appears, will soon end, though SAG-AFTRA and the studios represented by the AMPTP have yet to negotiate a new deal for actors.)

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