‘Yellowstone’ Prequel ‘1883’ Sets Ratings Record With Insane Amount of Viewers

by Lauren Boisvert

“1883” premiered on Sunday, Dec. 19; now the ratings are in, and they’re off the charts. The show sky-rocketed to the most-watched original series ever on Paramount+; 4.9 million viewers made it the biggest new premiere on TV since 2015, according to a press release from the network.

ViacomCBS executives were quick to praise the show. Clearly, the high ratings are proof “1883” was the right gamble. “The day 1 streaming numbers coupled with the results of the linear sampling effort, and social response from our audience show the tremendous promise for this series. We look forward to continuing on this epic journey with our subscribers,” said Chief Programming Officer for ViacomCBS Streaming Tanya Giles.

Said Chris McCarthy, President and CEO ViacomCBS Media Networks, “We went big with 1883 […] and it delivered big and shattered all records.”

101 Studios also heaped on the praise. CEO David Glasser stated, “That success is due to the dedication of the unbelievably gifted cast, crew, ViacomCBS and the passionate vision and leadership of Taylor Sheridan. 101 Studios could not be more proud to have worked alongside Taylor to shepherd 1883 into the world.”

According to the press release, “1883” also beat out the season 1 “Yellowstone” premiere in terms of demographics. In total, including the premiere, simulcast, and encores, there were 6.4 million viewers for the entire night.

“1883” almost wasn’t made this year. Taylor Sheridan took a 7-month time frame and delivered an immersive experience to a record number of viewers. Hopefully, the ratings hold, but if the rest of the season is anything like the premiere, they will.

‘1883’ Almost Didn’t Premiere in 2021

There’s a good chance the ratings still would have been record-breaking even next December, but “1883” gave us a treat this year. Still, there was a moment where the show almost didn’t get made in time to premiere in 2021. At the world premiere of “1883” on Dec. 11, Taylor Sheridan recounted a conversation he had with Paramount executives where they gave him an ultimatum about his new show.

Sheridan told Deadline that he gave execs the pilot script in April, and they came back and told him they wanted to premiere in December. That gave him 7 months to shoot a show with no cast, no other scripts, no crew, and no locations. Sheridan told execs he could start production in February next year, but was met with resistance. He recalled that the exec told him, “‘Look, we are betting the house on this, and we are trucked if you don’t do it. We’re paying you a lot of trucking money, so you trucking figure it out!'” Sheridan edited his language for the sake of Audie Rick, the youngest cast member, who was in attendance.

Sheridan asked for everything for “1883,” and the studios delivered. “I did not hear the word no, at all,” he recalled. Good thing, too; Sheridan had a vision, and it would’ve fallen flat had he not had to freedom to create whatever he wanted.