You'd better sit down, Marvel fans, because things might get ugly in tonight's episode of Disney (NYSE:DIS) Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So what should viewers expect? Well, lead actor Clark Gregg (aka "Agent Coulson") was kind enough to provide a nice little hint a few days ago on his Twitter feed:
As Gregg notes, Mike Peterson was the superhero subject of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s pilot episode -- you know, the guy who crawled up the side of a burning building with his bare hands, then effortlessly jumped from a top floor window while holding a lifeless victim.
If you're wondering why Coulson and his team need Peterson's help, check out the sneak peek posted by the folks at Marvel just yesterday:
The end goal by Disney''s ABC, of course, is to maintain the show's current ratings momentum going into tonight's midseason finale.
Remember, three weeks ago Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ratings finally saw their first uptick since the series began back in September, earning a solid 2.4 in the key 18-49 demographic as 6.89 million viewers tuned in.
Of course, skeptics were quick to claim the jump would be short-lived, especially considering it coincided with a widely publicized crossover with Disney Marvel's big-budget blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World.
I suppose they were confounded, then, when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s live viewership spiked 35% the following week to 9.3 million, earning it a solid 2.6 rating and driving ABC to a season high performance as the most-watched network of the night. In addition, that also marked S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second-largest audience to date, trailing only its mammoth 11.9 million-viewer debut.
On a more worrisome note, that was still only good enough for S.H.I.E.L.D. to secure second place in the overall ratings that evening, as CBS (NYSE:CBS) was able to take the top spot during the same hour with its annual rebroadcast of 1964's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. When all was said and done, CBS' perennial holiday classic earned a 3.0 rating with a stunning 11.3 million live viewers.
Keep in mind, however, Disney's ABC ironically managed to achieve the same feat last Monday, using its own annual rebroadcast of 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas to best News Corp's (NASDAQ:NWS) futuristic new crime drama, Almost Human -- and I already suggested industry pundits shouldn't have been concerned by that holiday upset given a broader view of Almost Human's compelling numbers.
In this case, I think the same big-picture perspective is required to judge the performance of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which for the ninth week in a row remained the number-one series in its time period with the lucrative men's 18-34 demographic. As a result, and especially given its most recent jump in viewership, Disney and ABC should have no problem continuing to entice advertisers to pay up for airtime in future episodes.
As it stands, I'll be sure to touch base with regard to how tonight's superhero-aided effort pans out. But given its significant tailwinds over the last few weeks, I won't be surprised if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues its ratings uptrend.
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.