Fargo Earns Solid Sampling in Debut

Pitch-black dramedy bows to a cumulative 4.15 million viewers

The series premiere of FX’s adaptation of Fargo drew some decent sampling Tuesday night, scaring up 2.65 million viewers and a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo.

While the 10 p.m. deliveries weren’t exactly world-beaters—recent dramas The Americans drew 3.22 million viewers and a 1.2 in the dollar demo in its January 2013 premiere, while The Bridge last July bowed to 3.04 million viewers and a 0.9 rating—the network guarantees against multiplay deliveries. As such, the more germane number is the cume: 4.15 million viewers and a 1.4 in the demo.

Time-shifted viewing will only serve to boost Fargo’s premiere deliveries. Naturally, the relevant data will align with the C3 currency, which blends average commercial minutes in each live telecast with three days of playback.

Because FX has been adept at encouraging viewers to catch up via on-demand platforms in which the trick functionality has been disabled (in other words, there’s no way to zap through the commercials), its conversion from live-plus-three-day data to C3 is particularly favorable. In other words, not only are people watching the content, but they’re being exposed to the paid marketing messages that keep TV afloat.

“We are incredibly proud of the towering creative achievement by [writer/producer] Noah Hawley and everyone involved with Fargo,” said John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions, by way of announcing the premiere deliveries. (A tip of the hat to Landgraf for not trying to cram a stray “oh, geez!” or “you betcha!” into the canned quote.)

Landgraf went on to extol the talents of the cast, which features Billy Bob Thornton as a whimsical sociopath, Martin Freeman as a henpecked insurance salesman, and newcomer Allison Tolman as a folksy but dedicated young police officer.

“This is truly one of the best shows we’ve ever had on the network,” Landgraf said. “We’re thrilled with the initial viewership last night and really excited for audiences to see the rest of the miniseries.”

The ratings rolled in shortly after FX officially announced the renewal of The Americans for a third season. Landgraf last week said the network was on the verge of picking up the stylish Cold War drama for another cycle.

During the same event, Landgraf said he would consider making a second-season commitment to Fargo if it found an audience. “Fargo isn’t an open-ended series. It has a beginning, a middle and an end,” he said. “So if we were to bring it back, it would once again be located in Minnesota or North Dakota, that area, but telling a different story with different characters.”

The 10-part limited series returns on Tuesday, April 22.