Our good friend, Hear Marko Roar from over at Watchers on the Wall, has worked his strange voodoo and Photoshop magic and cast the same spell for our dear Westworld as he normally does for our equally-beloved Game of Thrones: he has summoned forth a graph of the show’s first-season ratings and then plotted them out against three other popular HBO series’ inaugural seasons, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, and, of course, Thrones. Here it is in all of its glory:
Now, there are a few takeaways from this pretty picture to sit and stew on for a bit. First and foremost, those of you who remember recently hearing that Westworld was the most-watched first season of an HBO series might wonder why the numbers above don’t seem to reflect this reality. That’s because the graph only tracks actual viewership the night of the episode’s premiere, foregoing all added-on data, whether that be time-shifting or streaming (mostly because HBO doesn’t make those regularly available, although we do know that, for instance, the season finale’s numbers go from 2.2 million to 3.6 million when the extra info is factored in).
But just looking at the core, night-of ratings reveals our second major point: despite all of its acclaim, all of its social media chatter, and all of its award nominations, the series just isn’t appointment viewing the way that its HBO brethren are (or were); viewers are nearly just as content to watch the latest episode later on in the week as they are to stay up late on Sunday and catch it live. This is an extremely far cry from Thrones, which has become the very definition of must-see TV (sorry, NBC).
The third item worth considering is asking how Westworld’s second-season ratings might compare. Will they follow the same initial high, then immediate slump, then gradual recovery to an all-time high for the finale – but start out where the first season’s numbers left off at? (This is, of course, the pattern that Game of Thrones has been following over the course of its entire lifespan.) Might it just flatline across the board, due to the long wait between seasons (a feat which didn’t seem to affect The Sopranos’s ratings too terribly much, if at all)? Whether the production can break through and become water-cooler television will determine much of this performance data – which will, thus, determine whether it gets a season-three pickup, of course.
Many have dubbed Westworld Game of Thrones’s replacement as HBO’s flagship show (given that the latter will be ending the same year that the former returns with its second season). There is nothing in these numbers to disrupt or otherwise push back on that – it merely shows how far the series has yet to go in order to legitimately claim that crown.
Leave your thoughts, hopes, and fears in the comments below. And be sure to join us tomorrow for our weekly community poll on this very topic.