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“Lawmen: Bass Reeves” debuted to an average viewership of 3.34 million during its special premiere airing on CBS, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day figures.
During the Taylor Sheridan drama’s back-to-back premiere on the network on Nov. 12, the series premiere of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” drew in 3.55 million viewers and scored a 0.22 rating in the key broadcast demographic among adults 18-49 at 9 p.m. The second episode, which debuted at 10 p.m., drew in a slightly lesser viewership than the premiere as it garnered an average viewership of 3.14 million — up 28% from last Sunday’s airing of “Big Brother” in the same timeslot — and a 0.18 rating.
CBS’ airing of the Paramount+ show on Nov. 12 followed the 8 p.m. airing of Sheridan’s Paramount Network hit drama “Yellowstone,” which drew in 4.75 million total viewers and a rating of 0.32. For comparison, while “Yellowstone” only aired one episode, last Sunday’s 9 p.m. broadcast scored 3.90 million viewers and secured a 0.26 rating.
“Yellowstone” began airing on CBS in September, when the network leveraged Paramount Global’s subsidiaries to fill out their strike-impacted fall schedule, and debuted to an impressive total viewership of 6.83 million and a 0.67 rating in the key demo. The series premiere’s viewership on CBS was up 141% in total viewers when compared to the drama’s Season 1 premiere on Paramount Network, which debuted to an audience of 2.83 million viewers in 2018.
After the success of the first installment of “Yellowstone” on CBS, the network announced it would continue airing the Kevin Costner-led series as it began broadcasting its second season on Sundays.
While “Yellowstone” is continuing its rollout on CBS, there’s no indication if “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” will keep airing on the broadcast network beyond its special two-episode premiere, as the network serves as a promotional vehicle for its Paramount+ streaming releases, including special episodes of “Star Trek,” “Criminal Minds” and “Frasier,” among others. In October, the CBS premiere of the “Frasier” revival, which similarly included two back-to-back episodes, debuted to an average of 2.23 million viewers.
Starring David Oyelowo, the series centers on Bass Reeves, an enslaved laborer who rose to become one of the first Black U.S. deputy marshals west of the Mississippi. “Despite arresting over 3,000 outlaws during the course of his career, the weight of the badge was heavy, and he wrestled with its moral and spiritual cost to his beloved family,” according to the official logline.