Originally slated to debut in July but delayed in the wake of multiple mass shootings, the series, based on the best-selling novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter and the 2007 Paramount film, premiered on November 15, a week after the presidential election won by Donald Trump.
Shooter — starring Ryan Phillippe as a former Marine and decorated sniper who is on the run trying to clear his name and save his family — has become a post-election hit, appealing to a lot of the constituency in the flyover states that helped Trump get elected (hacking scandal notwithstanding). It has become one of USA Network’s highest-rated series, and its success might serve as a guide for a television industry that is going through somepost-election soul-searching as to whether it reflects and serves enough of Middle America. For more on Shooter‘s rise and impact, read my story headlined, Embraced By the Heartland, USA Drama ‘Shooter’ Is Post-Election Hit As TV Networks Grapple To Reflect All America.
Season-to-date, Shooter, co-produced by Paramount TV and Universal Cable Prods, averages 2.6 million total viewers and 974,000 adults 18-49 in Live+7. It ranks as the No. 3 USA scripted series in viewers (behind Suits and recently departed Royal Pains) and 18-49 (behind Suits and Colony). A large portion of Shooter‘s viewership comes from live viewing, something very valuable for ad-supported networks whose revenue depends on people sitting through commercials. In Live+same day, Shooter, which follows live WWE SmackDown telecasts, is virtually tied with Suits for No. 1 in 18-49 and is No. 2 in total viewers.
SmackDown and Shooter, the latter executive produced by the star of the movie, Mark Walhberg, have been very compatible, appealing to similar audiences, with Shooter retaining 78% of its lead-in. It has helped USA rank as he No. 1 ad-supported entertainment cable network on Tuesday nights from 8-11 PM. Shooter, which is skewing young, also has been very consistent week to week, indicating that the show has found a fan base quickly.
“(Showrunner) John Hlavin and the team behind Shooter have delivered a compelling action thriller that consistently engages a strong and loyal audience,” said Chris McCumber, President of Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “We look forward to partnering once again with Paramount Television and Universal Cable Productions as we follow Bob Lee into his next chapter.”
The series follows the journey of Bob Lee Swagger (Phillippe), a highly decorated veteran who is coaxed back into action to prevent a plot to kill the President. When Swagger’s former commanding officer, Isaac Johnson (Omar Epps), solicits his expertise for a clandestine operation, Swagger discovers that he has been framed and must do everything in his power to protect his family and clear his name.
Shooter comes from executive producers Wahlberg of Closest to the Hole Productions, Stephen Levinson of Leverage Entertainment, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and executive producer/showrunner John Hlavin. Co-starring alongside Phillippe and Epps are Shantel VanSanten, Cynthia Addai-Robinson and Eddie McClintock. The Season 1 finale of Shooter airs Tuesday, January 17.