Westworld Season 2 Premiere
Not a ton of regular “Westworld” viewers unfroze their motor functions in time to catch the Season 2 premiere “live.”
“Westworld” Season 2 premiered Sunday to 2.1 million linear viewers, which is actually 100,000 audience members slimmer than the show’s Season 1 finale. Counting an encore as well as HBO Go and Now streams, last night’s sum grows to 3 million overall viewers.
That’s a bit better, but not mind-blowing.
The night’s linear number, which is what Nielsen would use to judge “live” viewership, means the “Westworld” Season 2 premiere rose 5 percent from its series debut.
To be fair to HBO, “Westworld” sees a ton of delayed viewing. Last season, the TV reimagining of the 1973 feature film saw nearly 80 percent of its viewers tune in post-premiere night, according to the premium pay-TV channel.
HBO, which itself counts all viewing inside of a month when judging an episode’s reach, says “Westworld” averaged 13.2 million total viewers per hour, the largest number for a freshman show in the network’s history.
This is a surprise: Despite heavy promotion and positive critical buzz, Westworld viewership slipped slightly for its 70-minute season 2 premiere Sunday night.
The sci-fi drama delivered 3.0 million total viewers across cable and digital platforms.
That’s down a tad from the show’s series debut in 2016 which had 3.3 million total viewers across cable and digital platforms — making it the best opener for a new HBO series since 2014’s True Detective premiere (if you compare only the initial 9 p.m. telecast, last night’s episode was actually up slightly from 2016, but it’s the total sum of viewing that’s key here). The drama’s first season finale then set another record with 3.6 million viewers (which, more than anything else, suggested season 2 would open even stronger than the first).
HBO has pulled out all the stops to push the show’s second season, including buying its first Super Bowl ad in decades and building an entire Westworld-inspired town in Texas populated with actors playing androids during the South by Southwest film festival.
There are a couple mitigating factors. One is that HBO only showed the premiere twice last night instead of three times back in 2016. Another is the show’s longer-than-usual hiatus — the show came back after 16 months off the air. And the Westworld ratings, even the overnights, could grow as the season continues as reviews from critics who have seen the first five episodes of the season have been quite positive.
HBO points out that Westworld received nearly 80 percent of its viewing after its premiere night, helping lift last season’s overall average to 13.2 million viewers — the biggest debut season of any series in HBO history.
And these numbers still make Westworld the network’s second biggest hit after its tentpole fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which launched its first season in 2011 with a mere 2.2 million overnight viewers and gradually built up over the years to rake in an incredible 16 million overnight viewers for its seventh season finale last year (and generates up to 23 million viewers per episode when all forms of viewing are counted, including DVR playback and repeats).