Is Amazon Prime Video’s Citadel actually a hit or miss?

Citadel key art
Citadel key art /

Citadel is, by all accounts, supposed to be a major new series for Amazon. The show, which first premiered on April 28, is designed to launch a major franchise for the network.

The show has the Russo Brothers on board as executive producers. For those that don’t know, the Russo Brothers are responsible for directing several of the movies in the MCU and have been very successful in operating in the world of mega-franchises.

Citadel is expected to launch several different spinoffs that are set in the same universe, and if all goes according to plan, it will be one of the biggest franchises in the era of streaming. So how is it going so far?

Amazon says that it’s a hit

According to Amazon, it’s going great. The show was the most viewed series on the platform during the time that new episodes were airing.

The show is second only to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as the most viewed premiere episode within the first 24 hours. Its Amazon’s second most watched series outside the US and fourth most watched series overall.

With those stats, it should be no surprise that the streaming platform has officially renewed the show for a second season and officially greenlit the first spinoff series. However, it sounds like some people are suggesting that Citadel isn’t as successful as Amazon would have you believe.

According to Nielsen, a media research firm whose television ratings systems have helped determine the fate of TV shows almost since the dawn of television, the show might not be doing that well. According to Nielsen, the show didn’t even make it to the list of their Top 10 most streamed shows in the entire month of May.

Shows that did make the list, beating out Citadel include Better Call Saul, NCIS, and Bluey on Disney+. So, does that mean that Citadel is actually a $300 million flop?

What do we still not know?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that easy to find. There are a lot of factors that you have to consider. In the age of streaming, things only get more complicated.

While Nielsen is a third party and doesn’t have the same desire to make Amazon shows appear successful the way Amazon obviously does, they also don’t have all of the same data that Amazon has access to. For example, Nielsen only looks at American viewership numbers, while Amazon is a global company, and Citadel is clearly a show that is being designed to launch a global franchise.

Amazon also has access to way more data that could determine whether or not they view something as a success. For a hypothetical example, Amazon might see that fewer people are watching Citadel, but they notice that 75% of the new Prime accounts in the last 30 days did watch the show.

This means that the show is causing new people to sign up for the service. Or perhaps, they notice that the show has an unusually high completion rate (the percentage of people who watch the first episode that then make it all the way through the show).

This means that a second season might not have as much of a drop-off in viewership as other series. Or possibly, given that a writer’s strike is currently happening that will impact every single studio in Hollywood, a second season of an existing show might be more appealing than the same money going to build a new show from the ground up.

That is in terms of trying to minimize how the writer’s strike will impact Amazon’s output. Again, these examples are purely hypothetical because they involve internal information that only Amazon has access to.

So is Citadel a hit or not?

The biggest takeaway is that Citadel has been renewed for a second season, which means that whatever the viewership of the first season was, it was enough to keep Amazon from pulling the plug on the whole thing.  Anything more intricate than that is fundamentally guesswork.

It’s educated guesswork in many cases, but it’s still guesswork. This is a very interesting time in the history of television as everyone (both viewers and production studios alike), try to figure out exactly what success looks like in the era of streaming.

Right now there are still so many ways to measure the success or failure of any given project, that valid arguments can be made in both directions. Honestly, the fate of Citadel is still up in the air.

The show was always meant to be part of a massive franchise featuring several interconnected shows. We still have a long way to go before we can see if that is something Amazon is able to successfully pull off.

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Did you watch Citadel? What is your opinion on the show?

Let us know in the comments below!