Amazon’s Citadel Is Failing To Be A Hit With Audiences

Amaozn's big-budget spy series Citadel failed to place in Neilsen's top 10 during its first season.

By TeeJay Small | Published

citadel premiere

Despite touting a massive budget and major studio backing from Amazon Prime Video, the new series, Citadel, which premiered back in April, has failed to garner much attention from audiences, failing to take high placements in the Nielsen ratings three weeks in a row, according to a write-up in Variety. The espionage thriller series, which stars The Matrix Resurrections‘ Priyanka Chopra and Game of Thrones‘ Richard Madden, cost the streamer an estimated $300 million for its six-episode first season, making it one of the most expensive television series ever produced.

With Citadel seemingly failing to inspire Nielsen-worthy streaming numbers, it remains unclear if the studio will ever be able to turn a profit with the series. The recent release of Nielsen’s May 8-14 streaming week marks the third opportunity for Citadel to place within the top 10 rankings since the show premiered, failing to do so as the series nears its first season finale. The two-part premiere first aired on April 28, with episodes 3 and 4 arriving weekly on May 5 and 12, respectively.

While the numbers haven’t been made public regarding streaming data for the final two episodes in the season, which aired on May 19 and 26, it seems likely that Citadel hasn’t received a sudden boost in recent weeks, particularly as this is the first time many potential fans are even hearing about it, leading some to wonder if manufactured failure is part of Amazon‘s latest guerrilla marketing strategy.

Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden in Citadel

While the series did bring in a whopping 306 million viewing minutes in the May 8-14 week, it still wasn’t enough to put them in the top 10. Citadel was narrowly beaten out for the 10 spot on the list by former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney’s recent come-back stand-up special Baby J, which cataloged the comedian’s tumultuous experience throughout the pandemic, including a drug problem that landed him in rehab and a messy public divorce.

Amazon’s marketing team seems to have been highly focused on landing a major international streaming hit with Citadel, preemptively green-lighting spinoff series’ for both India and Italy. Of course, with the original show underperforming, even in their desired markets, there’s no word on whether or not the new shows will ever make it to air. In fairness, Nielsen ratings don’t account for viewing hours overseas, so it is possible that the show is a hit across Europe and Asia, though there doesn’t seem to be much buzz for the series online.

Other streaming products that dwarfed Citadel on the week’s charts include Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, The Mother, and A Man Called Otto, all of which were produced and distributed by Netflix. This comes as a bit of a surprise considering Netflix enters the week at a significant disadvantage, as the company recently began its long-awaited crackdown on password sharing. Suppose Netflix can beat out Amazon Prime several times over with a fraction of the budget and a handicap of overall viewers. In that case, it may be time for Jeffrey Bezos and his Amazon team to throw in the towel regarding original streaming content.