‘Yellowstone’ is a massive hit, and new data shows how much it’s grown in audience demand with each season

Yellowstone
Kevin Costner in ‘Yellowstone.’ Paramount Network
  • “Yellowstone” is the rare cable TV series in the streaming age that is a massive hit.
  • Audience demand data shows how it has grown in popularity with each season.
  • ViacomCBS is developing spinoffs of the show for its streaming service Paramount+.

Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” is one of the biggest shows on TV, a rare feat for a cable series in the streaming age.

14.7 million viewers tuned in to the show’s season four premiere earlier this month in Nielsen’s L3 ratings, which accounts for viewership over the first three days that includes DVR recordings. Eight million viewers tuned in live as it aired on November 7, according to Nielsen.

It’s the biggest cable premiere since “The Walking Dead” in 2017 and is way up from the show’s season three L3 premiere of 9.3 million viewers.

The series stars Kevin Costner as John Dutton, the patriarch of a wealthy family of ranchers.

Nielsen ratings aren’t the only way to illustrate how “Yellowstone” has grown in popularity over time. Data from Parrot Analytics shows that “audience demand” for the series has increased with each season since it premiered in 2018.

Parrot Analytics’ audience demand metric reflects the desire for and engagement with, or the overall popularity, of a TV series. 

The day after their season premieres, demand for “Yellowstone” season four was:

  • 24% higher than season three
  • 97% higher than season two
  • 283% higher than season one

At its peak, audience demand for season four was 34.6 times higher than the average show in the US, its highest peak yet.

The chart below illustrates audience demand for “Yellowstone” leading up to and after each season’s premiere. Green indicates the first season, yellow the second, red the third, and purple the fourth season.

Yellowstone demand

Since its fourth season premiered, it’s been the second most in-demand cable series in the US, behind “The Walking Dead,” according to Parrot Analytics. That doesn’t count premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime.

The first three seasons of “Yellowstone” are streaming exclusively on NBCUniversal’s Peacock as part of a licensing deal with Paramount Network’s parent company, ViacomCBS. But new episodes aren’t streaming anywhere, making it “one of the only true ‘appointment television’ events in the modern TV landscape,” said Parrot Analytics insight analyst Wade Payson-Denney.

But ViacomCBS is still aiming to leverage “Yellowstone” for its own streaming platform, Paramount+. A new series from the “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan, “Mayor of Kingstown,” premiered on the streaming service this month. A “Yellowstone” prequel series titled “1883” and more spinoffs are also in the works for Paramount+.