We are three episodes deep into Falcon & Winter Soldier, but have 80% of viewers already dropped off in the middle of episode two? In a key scene during the second episode, Sam and Bucky are on the street having an argument. The police pull up and immediately turn on Sam, a Black man, and assume he’s a threat. Bucky talks to the police, asking if they know who this is. When they realize he’s Falcon, the police back off. The scene isn’t overly long and is simple enough that today audiences understand the scene was dealing with racial profiling.
According to YouTuber Overlord DVD, his inside source says that 80% of the Falcon & Winter Soldier audience turned off the second episode of the show during this scene on racial profiling. He says that his insider’s jaw dropped at the overwhelming numbers. According to his sources, 79.9% of viewers left the streaming at that exact moment.
This is, of course, a very bold claim. People pause and stop livestreams frequently, sometimes because they are bored and sometimes because they’re interrupted. Believing that 80% of viewers had such a strong reaction to the scene is a stretch. He claims that viewers didn’t want to be reminded of the troubles of the real world during a Marvel program. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith and others have lamented how much they loved the bank loan scene on Falcon & Winter Soldier specifically because it addresses the real-world concerns of Avengers.
Currently, we don’t have more data to take a closer look at for the show. Streaming services are selective about what they tell us. This isn’t like collecting box office numbers for the movie theater. Samba TV has been a trusted source for streaming ratings. They have said that 1.7 million US households tuned in for the first episode of Falcon & Winter Soldier. Episode two saw 1.3 million households tune in.
If Overlord DVD was correct and 79.9% of the 1.3 million people watching stopped Falcon & Winter Soldier during the racial profiling scene, then that would mean over a million people stopped watching at the same timestamp. This is harder to believe since online reactions are more mixed. Some people don’t care, some people really liked it, and others hated it. That sounds about like what most people would expect, so 80% of the audience actually hating it and turning it off seems harder to believe.
Recently, showrunner and headwriter Malcolm Spellman talked about the importance of that scene. As Falcon & Winter Soldier moves forward, there is a question of why Falcon isn’t taking the place of Captain America as Steve had intended. The show is addressing some of the challenges Falcon faces, some of them unique to his experiences as a Black man.
Whether a million people turned off episode two of Falcon & Winter Soldier at the same time remains to be seen. Currently, we know that Disney+ says the first episode of the Marvel show was their most-streamed series premiere ever, just beating out WandaVision. We also know that the show was set up to be more like a six-hour movie than a traditional television show format, and that may begin to drag for people with the weekly release schedule. We’ll have to see what the third episode’s numbers look like to get a better idea of how the show is holding up for audiences over time.