Yellowstone Shakeup: Will Kevin Costner ride off into the sunset?

10 February, 2023

The fifth and most recent season of Yellowstone set records as the most in-demand season of the show so far. This fact in its own right makes the show an extremely valuable piece of content to both its distributor, Paramount Global, and whatever platform is lucky enough to license it (currently Peacock). But the show also underpins a growing and massively popular franchise, including the already successful 1883 and 1923, which only increases the value of the original series. Taylor Sheridan is riding this wave of success and the total demand for his body of work has recently overtaken other top producers.


This context made the news that Kevin Costner could be leaving the series all the more surprising and left audiences wondering what this means for the future of the franchise.  A report from Deadline pointed to scheduling disagreements as one cause for the rift, although a Paramount Network spokesperson declined to provide any specifics and said “Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come.”  Also contained in the report were rumors about a planned franchise extension starring Matthew McConaughey. Looks like there might be a new sheriff in town.  

It wasn’t only Yellowstone that was riding high after its latest season, the demand for Kevin Costner also hit an all time high the week of the latest season premiere in November when he had 53 times the demand of the average talent in the US. This was followed by a second spike in demand around January 11th when he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his Yellowstone role.


With a new peak in demand for both the show and Kevin Costner, if no deal can be reached to keep the actor on at least he can ride off into the sunset with his head held high. And it isn’t all bad news for Yellowstone fans. The franchise should be more resilient now compared to if this happened a year ago. A franchise is greater than the sum of its parts and one major benefit of having so many spinoffs is building a franchise that can survive unexpected disruptions to even its flagship series.  

Bringing Matthew McConaughey on has the potential to reinvigorate the franchise and draw in new audiences. Looking at his historical demand compared to Kevin Costner we see that Matthew McConaughey had a higher baseline of demand in the past and it was only during this latest season of Yellowstone that Kevin Costner’s demand rose significantly higher.  

Another dimension of this casting update that could be good news for the franchise is the difference in the audiences of these two leads. While Kevin Costner’s audience is heavily male skewing (61.3% male), Matthew McConaughey’s audience is evenly split between men and women which is in line with the make-up of the Yellowstone audience. Also Mr. McConaughey’s audience is younger than Kevin Costner’s which presents an opportunity to bring younger viewers to the show. Saddle up for a new era in the Yellowstone saga.


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