Yellowstone Premiere Breaks An Unbelievable Ratings Record

The fifth season premiere of Yellowstone broke records as the most watched episode of the series.

By Vic Medina | Published

The fifth season of Yellowstone has arrived, and it seems like much of America was tuning in to see the latest travails of the Dutton family. According to Yahoo News, the season premiere of the Taylor Sheridan western was the most-watched episode of the series ever, with 12.1 million viewers taking in the episode Sunday night, which was broadcast on Paramount Network, CMT, TV Land and Pop. In comparison, the most watched broadcast show this season has been NCIS on CBS, which had just under 11 million viewers, and The Walking Dead, which aired the same night on AMC, raked in just under 1.5 million viewers.

The series stars Kevin Costner, Cole Hauser, Kelly Reilly, Luke Grimes, and Wes Bentley as a family of Montana ranchers fighting off developers and other threats to their land. A mix of western and modern soap opera, Yellowstone has earned a fanatical fan following since its June 2018 premiere.

The fifth season sees Costner’s John Dutton elected as governor of Montana, where he sets out to use his office to stop developer Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver) from taking over his land to build an airport and resort. He appoints his daughter Beth (Reilly) as his chief of staff, while his adopted son Jamie (Bentley) serves as the state’s attorney general. He is also being blackmailed by Beth, after she learned he killed his real father and tried to hide his body.

The premiere not only saw family infighting and political intrigue, there was a death in the family, which is likely to factor in for some time to come.

The Yellowstone cast

Ratings for the fifth season premiere topped the premiere of season four, which had set the previous high of 11.2 million viewers, and it also had double-digit increases in the key 18-34 (up 52%), 18-49 (up 22%) and 25-54 (up 13%) demographics, according to Nielsen.

The demand for the premiere episode was go great, it crashed the Paramount+ app Sunday evening, as viewers mistakenly thought it was available to view there. It isn’t available on Paramount+, but rather on Paramount Network, and entirely different cable channel and streaming platform, although they appear similar.

Yellowstone has proved so popular, it has spawned its own TV franchise. A prequel series, 1883, premiered on Paramount+ in December of 2021 and starred Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott in a prequel that told the story of the first Duttons to travel west. The fifth season premiere Sunday night also broadcast the first trailer for 1923, another Yellowstone prequel series starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. That series premieres on Paramount+ in December.

Another spinoff series, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story is coming to Paramount+ as well, as is 6666, a spinoff series about the Four Sixes Ranch in west Texas, introduced in the fourth season of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone is co-created by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) and John Linson, who executive produce with Kevin Costner, Art Linson, David C. Glasser, Bob Yari, and Stephen Kay. The series is produced by MTV Entertainment Studios and 101 Studios.