Yellowstone Season 5 Ratings Reveal That Appointment TV Is Still Alive

Though it can only be watched with a cable subscription, the season 5 premiere of Yellowstone saw a dramatic increase in viewership.

Photo: Paramount Network

The fifth season of Paramount’s hit neo-Western drama Yellowstone premiered this weekend, and it seems as though fans just can’t get enough. Even though the series isn’t available to stream on Paramount+ in the U.S. (though it is in the U.K. and Canada), and new episodes are best watched with a cable or live TV subscription rather than a traditional streaming service, Yellowstone has significantly increased its ratings between this season and last, breaking records in key demographics.

According to TV Line, the season 5 premiere of Yellowstone had 8.8 million viewers just on Paramount Network. Viewership in the 18-34 demographic increased by 52 percent, the 18-49 demo increased by 22 percent, and the 25-34 demo increased by 13 percent. If you include data from the other Viacom channels like CMT and TV Land that broadcast new episodes of Yellowstone simultaneously, the season premiere had 10.3 million viewers total. Sunday night replays of the premiere across the Paramount Network and other Viacom channels bring the total viewership all the way up to 12.1 million.

This increase in viewership is notable given that viewers in these younger demographics tend to prefer streaming over watching live on cable. Even though the popularity of House of the Dragon shows that there is still a desire for “appointment TV,” this series had the benefit of being available on a related streaming service, HBO Max, in tandem with its broadcast on HBO. A 2021 poll from Ipsos indicates that only 19 percent of Millennials and only 25 percent of Gen Z still use cable TV, so the fact that Yellowstone was able to increase its viewership in the 18-34 age group by over fifty percent is a fascinating feat.

This increase is even more surprising when you look at where in the U.S. Yellowstone is the most popular. When asked by The Atlantic what his thoughts are on the show’s designation as a “red state show” series creator Taylor Sheridan said “They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show’ or ‘the red-state Game of Thrones,’  and I just sit back laughing. I’m like, ‘Really?’ The show’s talking about the displacement of Native Americans and the way Native American women were treated and about corporate greed and the gentrification of the West, and land-grabbing. That’s a red-state show?”

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Despite the fact that series creator Taylor Sheridan insists that Yellowstone is not a “red state show,” the live TV streaming service Philo reports that the season 5 premiere had three times more viewership from states with a Republican governor than from those with a Democratic governor.

This could have something to do with the fact that series patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is a likely Republican politician and the series takes place in Montana (a “red” state), but what both sets of data really show is that despite any preconceived notions of what this show is or isn’t about politically, the story is resonating with what seems to be a wide variety of people across the U.S. No matter what you think of Yellowstone’s political leanings, or lack thereof, it has become a series that both younger and older viewers are able to connect with.

New episodes of Yellowstone season 5 premiere Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network in the U.S. and the day after on Paramount+ in the U.K.