Marvel's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Ratings: Can Coulson's Big Reveal Deliver?

A new episode tonight of Marvel's top-rated "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." promises big things. Here's what you need to know.

Jan 7, 2014 at 2:55PM

*Warning: This article contains spoilers!

Disney Marvel's Agents of SHIELD ratings, CBS NCIS

Ruth Negga and Clark Gregg in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Raina & Agent Phil Coulson, Image source: Disney/Marvel

Attention Marvel fans: Your favorite show is about to provide some long-awaited answers. Are you ready?

To be sure, the Dec. 10 midseason finale of Disney (NYSE:DIS) Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left viewers hanging after the shocking abduction of Agent Coulson.

And according to lead actor Clark Gregg, tonight's new episode will finally reveal how Coulson was resurrected for the show -- you know, after Loki shanked him to death on the big screen in Marvel's The Avengers.

In fact, Gregg asserted he had to wait months -- just like his fans -- before finding out what happened to his character. At the same time, however, the star insists he thinks fans will be happy, saying:

We're going to get a big fat window at the real truth, and it's going to be very, very surprising. When I read the sequence, I just stopped and put the script down and went, 'Wow. That was worth waiting for.'

What's more, the fallout of the reveal will permeate the remainder of this season, effectively setting up a sticker plot line for fans.

Here's the end-goal

Naturally, the folks over at Disney and ABC are hoping that'll translate to a nice ratings boost for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., especially considering the Live + Same Day rating for its midseason finale fell to a series-low 2.1 in adults 18-49, with a total of "just" 6.11 million viewers.

Then again, that was largely thanks to the perennially massive viewership for season 11 of CBS' (NYSE:CBS) NCIS, which garnered a 2.9 rating on 19.3 million viewers during the same hour.

But that's also not to say Disney is unhappy -- remember, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far has improved its time slot for ABC by 86% in adults 18-49, making it the network's top-rated program in the hour in four years.

Better yet, after accounting for DVR viewership in the most recent Live + 7 day numbers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s 4.8 rating means it goes into tonight's episode as Tuesday's highest-rated series overall for adults 18-49 this season. Meanwhile, NBC's The Voice earned a close second with an impressive 4.6, followed by a distant-third 4.2 rating for CBS' NCIS.

Alas, that hasn't seemed to appease most of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s critics, who can't seem to look past those widely used, increasingly obsolete live + same day numbers.

Of course, Disney wouldn't complain if more NCIS viewers jumped ship tonight. But even if they don't, I'm convinced Marvel fans should rest easy knowing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be just fine.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of tonight's new episode:

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Fool contributor Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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