Why “Enlisted” Did Much Better than What’s Being Reported

Updated: January 17, 2014


By Kerry Patton

As a new “Hollywood Insider,” I have learned a lot about the business over the past eight or so months. From pitching, selling, financing, production, distribution, etc., none of it is easy—especially when the show has potential for serious controversy. And surely, Enlisted came with great controversy.

Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, creators and co-executives for Enlisted, did everything they could to ensure the show’s first airing was successful. But, was it enough to keep the show afloat? Was it enough for FOX to initiate the decision making process in determining a potential second season? Enlisted_Angelique

Believe it or not, the premier of a television show gets looked at very closely. A decision can be made immediately after the first one or two airings and that decision can actually take a show off the air prior to the season’s end—such a decision was made recently for the mini-series The Assets.

During the Friday evening 9pm hour block, Enlisted received 2.39 million viewers and obtained a 0.7 demo score which, on the surface, doesn’t look that good considering, in comparison, Hawaii Five-0 had 10.44 million viewers receiving a 1.5 demo score, Shark Tank had 7.305 million viewers receiving a 2.1 demo rating, NBC’s Grimm averaged 5.23 million viewers and a 1.3 demo rating, and Raising Hope had 2.68 million viewers and a 0.8 demo rating. (HitFix.com)

What was later learned however is the fact that Enlisted actually did much better than those numbers when one takes into consideration DVR views. We at RangerUp learned Enlisted viewership actually increased by 87% just a few days after its premier thanks to DVR views. This means it actually did better than Raising Hope—much better!

Still, quantitatively, Enlisted didn’t do so hot. Now, here are some points I hope FOX takes into consideration with their business decisions:

  1. Hawaii Five-O, an hour long hit,  is in the middle of its fourth season and for the past three years has served as the front-runner for Friday night television—a position which is almost impossible for any new show, especially a thirty-minute show, to compete with considering its large loyal fan base.
  2. Shark Tank has a huge fan base and is also a one hour television show. Most interesting is the fact that last Friday evening, Shark Tank also started a brand new season. I regularly watch Shark Tank and it was difficult for me to turn it off in the middle of its new season airing so I could watch Enlisted.
  3. Grimm is another one hour show. It too has been accessible for a quite some time and has a very large following since its premier in 2011.

Three of the four television shows aired during the 9pm block that beat Enlisted’s ratings are one hour shows. This is the likely reason why FOX does not compete against its rival networks on Friday night during this specific time-slot. Fox airs two thirty minute back to back shows while its competitors air one hour television.

Enlisted-FoxJust based off this one hour versus thirty minute factor, it is my estimate that FOX will continue to be in third place for a very long time during the 9pm block on Friday nights no matter what thirty minute show is aired. Simply put, if they want to compete with say NBC, CBS, etc. they will need another one hour show to air during this time-slot and move Raising Hope and Enlisted to a more appropriate day and or time.

Time slots are not the only thing Enlisted had to battle during their premier.

The show did come with controversy and a lot of pre-conceived notions and blowback prior to the show’s initial premier—most of which came from overly biased and incredibly sensitive veterans and said support groups. However, the team behind Enlisted did something unique to make headway in earning trust and support among veterans who maintain an open mind.

Several persons who worked on set with Enlisted reached out to select veteran-friendly influencers and explained mistakes made during the production of the show. Not only did they explain the mistakes made, they revealed exactly how they planned on rectifying such. In fact, the team from Enlisted even went public and put out a “Coin Challenge.”

Personally, I believe that Enlisted was placed in an uphill battle long before its premier—from prejudice and bias among some veterans and in the decision made by FOX for its time-slot. With that said, Enlisted has a lot to be proud of—much of which will never go reported until now.

The most observable success Enlisted obtained this past Friday comes from a very unique group of persons who once served in uniform—veterans. Several influential military friendly blog sites, including this one, are still advocating for the show and social media like Facebook and Twitter to continue mentioning it—that is critical and a necessary observation for those that be out at FOX.

The most non-observable success that came with Enlisted this past Friday is something FOX will potentially overlook. Many veterans are mentally and physically suffering these days due to prolonged exposure to current conflicts. The quality of humor behind the show could be considered therapeutic for some of these veterans.

As a veteran who often finds himself dealing with his own issues on occasion, I laughed during the show. Let me re-phrase that. I laughed out loud during the show and I know many fellow Veterans did as well.

I laughed at many scenes that brought me back to the days of wearing the uniform. The show made me reflect on several of my friends who easily could have played the roles of some of the cast simply because of the things they had done during their careers. I even saw myself during the show.

The reflections seen throughout the show, in many regards, brought a sense of relief.


Editor’s note: Enlisted will be on the air again tonight on Fox. So watch it. DO IT! If not for yourself, for your country.




  1. Robbie K

    January 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I just watched both episodes On Demand and I laughed out loud. There was some truly funny stuff and they touched on some serious issues in a way that was both light hearted yet serious enough to get the point across. As a vet, I found nothing wrong with the show and even saw a few guys from my old platoon in some of those characters.
    I hope this show survives because it brings humor to our service while not mocking us.

  2. tru-jdm

    January 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    So based on the first report, I decided not to watch it. Then I read this article and am currently watching the pilot.
    Applied drinking game. Not entirely certain what happened to my gallon of rum (or my pants).
    Hopefully my wife will assist me with both problems.
    And I hate to say it… But WOW it clicks with my FSC raised humor!!!

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