“Westworld” came back online on Sunday night for season 3, but struggled to match the viewership highs it achieved two years ago up against the Democratic debate.
The season 3 premiere drew 901,000 total viewers to the live broadcast on HBO, which represents a 57% dip from last season’s premiere (which drew 2.1 million) and the show’s lowest viewership tally to date. Overall, the episode scored 1.7 million viewers across HBO’s platforms when taking into account digital viewers. That means its viewership was split almost 50-50 between live and streaming, a much more even balance than previous seasons which skewed far more towards live. For comparison, the last episode of “Westworld,” which aired way back in June 2018, scored 1.6 million total viewers.
That debut figure is still one of HBO’s strongest this season, outperforming “The Outsider” by 24% and the “Watchmen” premiere by 13%.
There is not doubt that bumping up against the Democratic debate, which featured plenty of discussion on the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the country, didn’t help the “Westworld” cause. However, the CNN debate was watched by 10.8 million viewers, a substantial number, but nowhere near the 15 and 20 million pairs of eyeballs that tuned in to previous debates.
It remains to be seen whether the premiere and future season 3 episodes of “Westworld” will be given any kind of significant boost by the fact that many Americans are staying at home because of COVID-19. It’s important to remember that episodes of Season 2 went on to average 9.2 million viewers across platforms once all views were tallied, while episodes of season 1 averaged a whopping 13.2 million viewers.
Sunday’s episode saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and company in action outside the park for the first time. Plenty of familiar faces are returning for this season, including Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Luke Hemsworth, while some new ones have been thrust into the fray, namely Aaron Paul.