Yes, We Can Now Safely Call Amazon's Russo Bros. Spy Thriller 'Citadel' a $300 Million Disaster

Amazon Prime Video original series 'Citadel'
(Image credit: Amazon)

With a reported first-season production budget of around $300 million, Amazon's Russo Brothers-produced spy thriller Citadel is also the second most expensive TV series ever produced, trailing Amazon's Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

With the tepid reviews rolling out -- Rotten Tomatoes aggregation scored it at 54% --TV writer Alan Sepinwall had a story published in Rolling Stone, the day prior to the series' April 28 all-at-once binge drop, caustically headlined "Citadel is a $300 Million Disaster for Amazon."

Turns out, Sepinwall and the Penske pub weren't wrong. 

We don't love Nielsen's weekly U.S. audience rankings of subscription streaming movies and shows for lots of reasons. But Nielsen's rankers, which provide viewership snapshots from a month ago, do deliver some insights. 

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And not once in the three weeks following Citadel's drop did the pricey six-part first season crack any of Nielsen's rankings. The research company did say that for the week of April 24-30, the show came close, garnering 306 million minutes of streaming in the U.S. 

This suggest to us that a number of folks tuned in for the first couple of days and quickly checked out. 

Again, Nielsen's rankers only account for U.S. viewing. And the series, parts of which were shot in the UK, and which stars Scottish stage actor Richard Madden alongside Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, did get picked up for a second season. 

Updated: An Amazon Studios press rep reached out to Next TV on Friday and implored us to ditch the term "disaster" from our headline. The rep said Citadel has performed well in international territories, drawing the second most audience ever for Amazon behind Rings of Power. The rep has yet to follow up with tangible metrics suggesting this audience performance. And until we peruse those, we'll base our word choices on what we can see in Amazon Prime Video's biggest market. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!