Why Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Should Survive Until at Least 2016

Marvel's superhero TV series has drawn lower ratings than some predicted, but that's O.K.

Mar 18, 2014 at 9:19AM

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't set the world on fire in its first season, but Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and ABC would be smart to let the series survive for at least two more years. Despite what my colleague Daniel Kline believesAgents' long-term prospects are more appealing than they look. 

An hour-long commercial
The most obvious strength of Agents is that it takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, already the second highest-grossing film franchise in history behind Harry Potter. As I've harped on before, Agents' ability to follow S.H.I.E.L.D. -- the unifying force behind the Avengers -- can't be judged on ratings along. Yes, it's probably true that after 12 million people watched the debut, the show has bled viewers quicker than ABC expected.

Screen Shot

Source: TVByTheNumbers, ABC. Graph compiled by author.

But compared to Once Upon a Time -- another ABC drama currently in its third season -- Agents hasn't performed as poorly as it may look. It's obviously no LOST, but does it need to be?

After all, Agents' real strength is that it serves as an hour-long commercial for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Avengers and Iron Man 3 have already demonstrated the franchise can yield billion-dollar box office returns -- the challenge is simply to keep fans interested enough that they keep coming back. Marvel and Disney's staggered film release schedule is one way to boost retention, and Agents fills in the gaps.

Mr. Kline is correct to point out the show's high cost -- its $12 million pilot was more expensive than even LOST and Game of Thrones' first episodes -- but that doesn't mean it should be held to a higher standard. Compared to the enormous marketing budgets of most blockbuster movies, Agents isn't as extravagant as it looks.

Marvel's third phase
The MCU has already wrapped up Phase One, and with Captain America: The Winter Soldier set to hit theaters next month, it's smack dab in the middle of Phase Two. After Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, Phase Three will commence with the third Captain America one year later.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC.

Because of Nick Fury and Black Widow's close ties with the Cap, I expect S.H.I.E.L.D. to remain involved in at least a limited capacity, meaning it would be prudent to keep Agents on the air until 2016. Marvel recently announced the film will square off against Batman Vs. Superman two summers from now, meaning Phase Three will need all the firepower it can get. 

The bottom line
Critics of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., including Mr. Kline, aren't wrong to say the show has disappointed in the ratings department. But calls for its cancellation ignore the main reason ABC began airing the show in the first place: to broaden the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Agents probably won't become as popular as LOST was, but that's O.K. It should continue to feature S.H.I.E.L.D., and in my humble opinion, it wouldn't hurt to rope in more characters from the films. Whether that means a Season Two appearance from Captain America or Black Widow, a high-profile cameo could be the shot in the arm the show needs.

Dan Kline disagrees with pretty much everything I wrote. Click here for his take.

Regardless of how long Marvel's TV show survives, the competitive landscape will change and cable will eventually go away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple. 

Jake Mann 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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't 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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