Monday saw the UK debut of super stylish Batman prequel Gotham which won Channel 5 a ton of good PR for its peak audience of more than 2m.
That was enough to beat both Channel 4 and BBC Two in the same time slot but is it enough to fulfil new owner Viacom’s ambitions of growing the channel’s audience?
While Gotham has a ready made and enthusiastic audience and one which will come to the show despite any lack of interest in the channel’s wider offerings, its much hyped performance isn’t actually any better than Five’s usual ratings.
The channel, which has a reputation for unambitious programming, already gets audiences of 1.8m-2.4m with its steady diet of formulaic cop franchises and Big Brother.
Gotham almost certainly brings the broadcaster a different demographic, being a show more likely to appeal to younger men than its usual schedule, but it’s not lifted raw audience numbers above their normal levels.
In the US the show has lost almost 2m viewers in the space of just four episodes – although figures are better once the number who’ve recorded it for later watching are included.
If the same kind of audience drop off happens in the UK, Channel 5 could soon be seeing audiences of around 1.5m which is the sort of figure it can get with the much cheaper CSI franchise.
That doesn’t make Gotham a bad buy – appealing to a different audience mix is just as important as appealing to a bigger audience.
However it does suggest Viacom’s hopes of building the channel’s audience figures aren’t going to be achieved without investing both a lot of cash and time.