Rebels Ratings: Good, Bad, Or What?

“Rebels” made its debut last Monday on its permanent home Disney X D (the premiere episode aired on the Disney Channel and will air with a special cameo by Darth Vader on ABC later this month). How it fared ratings-wise depends on how you look at it.

I know a lot of fan sites are heralding the show’s ratings as “record-breaking” and “fantastic.” It is true the one-hour premiere on Disney Channel was a ratings record for the network. It is true the first go-around in the Mondays at 9 on Disney X D also set a premiere record for that network. It is true that it drew a network record of kids in the ages 6-14 category, particularly boys.

But the actual people watching the Disney Channel debut (2.7 million in the U.S.) was smaller than Clone Wars’s 2008 debut and the Disney X D broadcast last Monday (just over 1 million) was smaller than just about all of Clone Wars’s run. Given that the show did well in its premieres for those particular networks, you can’t say did badly at all but it’s hardly phenomenal or “fantastic” either. The number of girls 6-11 dropped 78% between the first and second broadcast. One might argue that doesn’t matter since Disney bought Star Wars, er, Lucasfilm in the first place to pull in more of the boys’ market and Disney X D is aimed at boys. But it’s also leaving money on the table so to speak.

I’m not arguing “Rebels” is a flop but Disney is finding out the hard way that Star Wars isn’t magically going to give its fledgling Disney X D Cartoon Network numbers. Disney X D isn’t available in a lot of markets for one thing and it remains to be seen if “Rebels” will inspire enough of a devoted following to influence providers to carry it. Clone Wars did great on Friday nights at 8 but did even better on Saturday mornings. Disney X D is sticking “Rebels” on past the kiddies’ bedtime on a school night. Meanwhile, grown up viewers have Monday Night Football, wrasslin’, “Sleepy Hollow,” and other stuff at 9 p.m. (though Disney X D repeats “Rebels” at 10:30). I think it’s a weird time for a marquee kids’ show. 8 p.m. would be better.

Now if “Rebels” never breaks a million viewers the rest of the season or in season two, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be canceled but it will affect the show’s budget, meaning fewer episodes and other ways of cutting corners and that could affect the quality of the show overall. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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6 Responses to Rebels Ratings: Good, Bad, Or What?

  1. Mindless-droid says:

    It’s refreshing to read an objective analysis of the ratings and of the show for that matter. The way the word “awesome” gets thrown around these days is well let’s just leave it at that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. madmediaman says:

    These numbers are okay, but nothing to crow about. When Disney invested $4.5 billion in the franchise and then decided to kick off the franchise with a new animated series, I highly doubt they expected to be bringing in barely 1 million viewers.

    Even at its worst Clone Wars brought in nearly 1.4 million viewers on Friday nights, and you have to take into account CN was advertising the show on Saturdays as well, so if you missed it you still had a chance to catch it. Even more importantly, during most of its run Clone Wars was available to view for free on the next day

    There are a numbers of factors to be concerned about here. Lucasfilm’s stated goal is to bring more girls aboard the franchise, while it’s clear Disney is pushing Star Wars as a boys brand. If Lucasfilm were truly looking to bring more girls into the fold then they failed miserably, X D was a bad network to put the show on in the first place if they were trying to expand the viewer base. X D is only carried by some 68% of cable/satellite providers (compared to 89% for Disney Channel), and Disney’s stated mission for X D is to bring boys 6-14 aboard as a viable merchandising demographic.

    Which now creates another problem. If girls really aren’t watching Rebels then making your main lead on Episode VII a female may not be the smartest marketing decision. I’m certainly not advocating that girls/women be excluded (Ahsoka Tano is one of my favs) from Star Wars, but there is definitely a disconnect somewhere.

    I’m going to do some more research and look into demographics for Clone Wars. My guess is the number of female viewers was a bit higher than Rebels, but this start is a bit mystifying especially given the sheer volume of marketing and hype the show has received.

    Honestly, I think a lot of this had to do with the quality of Clone Wars. In the lead up to Rebels as Lucasfilm/Disney began releasing the four introductory shorts to Rebels; the comment section was pretty brutal. People dismissed it as looking “too Disney,” so said it came across to light and they preferred the serious nature of Clone Wars. People complained about the animation, the portrayal of Stormtroopers, and a whole host of other reasons which may have led to potential viewers turning away.

    Also I think some people just need to accept the fact that the “nostalgia” factor of Rebels may just fall flat with a lot of fans. As you can probably tell from my Rebels reviews, I’m not obsessed with nostalgia and find a lot of the homages and call backs annoying. I love them if they are a part of the story and have a functional reason… I don’t like nostalgia just for the sake of nostalgia, and I’m sure lots of people feel the way I do. Rebels may just not be a timeline people really care that much about right now. Most younger viewers have grown up with the Prequels and the Clone Wars, they just may not be that interested in the Original Trilogy era.

    I really wonder what would have happened if Lucasfilm had been allowed to do a Season 6 and 7 proper ending the show then, and then maybe moving into an animated Dark Times show… You could have even used a young Kanan type as the central figure for a series filling in that gap in the story.

    But Disney seems obsessed with going down this path “re-educating” the youths about the Original Trilogy era. I understand it makes sense from the standpoint of buttressing their upcoming Sequel Trilogy and getting that pump primed in advance. But it seems pretty clear its kind of falling flat. I see older fans dragging their kids to Target and grabbing new Star Wars goodies, but I don’t exactly see Star Wars product flying off the shelves. Star Wars product appears well stocked and untouched. Even at my local Disney Store I have seen very few customers strolling through the Star Wars section (probably because most kids I see at the Disney Store are still girls (despite Disney’s recent efforts).

    I’m just not sure the Younglings are that into the OT. Their parents may be, but that’s a relative small base. Now this all may be moot if Episode VII is a mega hit, but I’m not sure a Christmas release helps much there either.



    • BansheeGun says:

      I don think Rebels is terrible, but when I see the animation and just think about what The Clone Wars looked like, it really is disappointing. TCW pushed for innovation in animation, effects, and sound. Rebels seems to be running on a fairly un-ambitious crew. The constant musical cues and throwbacks to the OT are really starting to irritate me. Although, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a musical track from The Phantom Menace play near the end of ‘Fighter Flight’ (But the episode was pretty bad overall.)


  3. Nobody says:

    The premiere didn’t leave me with any nagging desire to watch any more. It doesn’t even rate as the most interesting thing I’ve seen on a Disney channel lately (that would be Gravity Falls).


  4. madmediaman says:

    Ratings are in from yesterday and the news is definitely NOT good. According to zap2it, who tracks cable numbers, Rebels had an overnight rating of:

    STAR WARS REBELS DXD 9:00 PM 581 0.1

    That means the show shed about half its viewers from last week’s premiere. There’s simply no way the show is sustainable with numbers like these. My guess is if this trend continues Disney will keep its plans for a 2nd season, but limit it to 13 episodes as well.

    Never should have stuck the show on XD.


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