Strong start for BYUtv’s ‘Granite Flats’

By on May 14, 2013.

BYUtv’s family drama, “Granite Flats” aired last month, exceeding producers’ viewership expectations.

Some 600,000 households tuned into the program in its first week, according to Nielsen ratings provided by Scott Swofford, the show’s director. That equates to 1.75 million viewers, more than 1.5 times the viewership of “Studio C.” Swofford reported that “Granite Flats” continues to be the channel’s strongest program each week.

“We’ve actually been kind of shocked,” Swofford said. “It eclipsed any other program that we’ve premiered here.”

Swofford pointed to Twitter and Facebook as indicators of the conversation surrounding “Granite Flats.” The show’s Facebook page has nearly 20,000 likes and averages 400 new likes per day. Twitter feeds are active during every episode, with people from all over the country joining the conversation.

Richard Gunn as Chief of Police John Sanders in 'Granite Flats.' (Courtesy BYUtv)

Richard Gunn as Chief of Police John Sanders in ‘Granite Flats.’ (Courtesy BYUtv)

“We knew it would be popular, but we didn’t have any idea what it would be doing in the social space,” Swofford said.

In addition to live viewing, online streaming of the show also has been successful. Swofford said the pilot averages between 4,000 and 5,000 new online views per day. Half of the four million hits on BYUtv’s YouTube channel have come in the month following the premiere of “Granite Flats.”

The show has received favorable reviews by prominent media organizations across the country, including The New York Times and The Miami Herald.

Scott D. Pierce, television writer for the Salt Lake Tribune, reviewed the series.

“In terms of quality, the experiment is a success,” Pierce said. “I see it all, and this series, while not flawless, is better than a lot of shows that cost three or four times as much.”

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to its focus on family appeal. Tasha Sharp, a junior from Brigham City, watches the show with her sister and brother-in-law.

“It’s clean,” Sharp said. “It doesn’t swear. It isn’t cynical or degrading. It’s entertaining and includes good moral and family values.”

Her brother-in-law, Jared Davis, echoed the fun they have watching “Granite Flats” together.

“We convinced my sister-in-law to come over and watch an episode,” Davis said. “At 2:45 a.m. and four episodes later we finally called it a night and went to bed.”

Not everyone who saw the show fell in love with it. Jordan Bianucci, a sophomore studying English, felt some details of the show lacked historical accuracy.

“Given that the show takes place in 1962 outside of Utah, it was strange to me that not one person had a cigarette,” Bianucci said.

Many viewers are anxious for more episodes and wonder if BYUtv will produce a second season.

“You’ll see when you watch episode eight that it kicks pretty strongly to another season,” Swofford said. “The funniest position to be in is when you have a hit, and now you’re trying to figure out whether it should continue or not, because it’s more expensive than everything else, but it’s also outperforming everything else. That’s a decision that will go before our leadership shortly.”

Episodes of “Granite Flats” air Sunday nights at 6 p.m. on BYUtv.