Simulcast of Yellowstone season debut grabs 12.1 million viewers

(Courtesy: Emerson Miller/Paramount Network/Paramount Global, Graphic by The Desk)

The fifth season debut of Paramount Network’s hit drama “Yellowstone” drew more than 12.1 million viewers Sunday evening, according to data released by Nielsen.

The debut, which consisted of the first two episodes of the new season, started at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Paramount Network and was simulcast across most of Paramount Global’s other cable channels, including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, CMT, TV Land and Pop.

More than 8.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the first episode of the new season right at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, according to Nielsen data, with the other 4 million watching a replay across Paramount Global’s channels or catching up via their digital video recorder.

The first run of the debut season wasn’t enough to top NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” with the live telecast drawing 11.1 million viewers for the evening, or about 3 million more than were tuned to Yellowstone at the same time.

But Yellowstone still won the night with the repeats and on-demand replays factored in, according to Nielsen. And the first run of the debut season grabbed more eyeballs than CBS (60 Minutes, 6.7 million), Fox (The Simpsons, 5.6 million) and ABC (America’s Funniest Videos/AFV, 3.6 million).

Yellowstone has been a ratings boon for Paramount Network, which primarily runs classic films from Paramount Pictures alongside some syndicated comedy and drama programs. The show is available to stream across a wide number of live cable television alternatives, including Philo, Vidgo and YouTube TV.

Older seasons of Yellowstone are exclusive to Peacock through a licensing deal with Paramount Global, though Paramount is expected to reclaim digital distribution rights for Paramount Plus in a few years. Yellowstone spin-offs, including “1883” and the forthcoming “1923,” stream exclusively on Paramount Plus.