January 13, 2014

THE SKED: Good Starts for “True Detective” and “Girls,” Not for “Helix”


TRUE DETECTIVE, despite major competition from the Golden Globes and the season premiere of Shameless on Showtime, had a solid start in the ratings for HBO on Sunday.  Preliminary numbers have it at 2.3M total viewers for its 9PM airing, with another 1M at 11PM.  The 9PM rating is a bit higher than the starts for Game of Thrones (2.2M in 2011) and The Newsroom (2.1M in 2012), although nowhere near the launch of Boardwalk Empire (4.8M in 2010).  18-49 demo numbers aren’t available yet, but the viewer number should translate into around 1.0 for the initial airing and 0.4 at 11PM, a promising start.  (Premieres are only so meaningful, though, as the shows above suggest–Thrones became a far bigger hit than Boardwalk ever did.)

GIRLS also began its season well with 1.1M viewers for its 10PM episode and 900K at 10:30PM.  The initial episode was up 28% from last season’s premiere, which might mean 0.7 in 18-49s, with 0.5 for the 2d episode.  Girls has already been renewed for next season, so its ratings are mainly academic at this point.

Syfy didn’t rouse much interest with its 90-minute premiere of HELIX on Friday.  The show had 1.8M total viewers and 0.6 in 18-49s, not a big improvement from last September’s season premiere of Haven in the Friday night slot at 1.5M/0.4.  Haven has never been considered a particularly strong series, and if Helix trends downward next week, as tends to happen after highly-promoted premieres, it won’t be doing much better.  (Remember:  HBO is in only 1/3 of US households, so numbers that look good in its universe are less impressive on basic cable.)

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."