March 18, 2013

THE SKED: Mild Finales for “Girls” and “Banshee”


HBO reports that the initial airing of last night’s GIRLS Season 2 finale was watched by 632,000 total viewers.  That’s down about 37% from the Season 1 finale last year, and down about 27% from the Season 2 premiere–and even down 7% from the previous week, an odd result for a season finale but perhaps a reaction to the controversial ending of the prior episode.  (Demo info won’t be available until tomorrow, but Girls is an extremely young-skewing show, so this should translate into something like a 0.4 with 18-49s.)  None of that sounds very impressive, but HBO notes that if all viewing across every airing and platform is aggregated, the total viewership this season has been averaging 4.6 million people per episode, about the same as last year’s aggregate number.  Since HBO, unlike an ad-supported network, makes the same revenue no matter where or how a show is watched, this number actually means something (although it’s hard to gauge exactly what without more information about aggregate viewership of other HBO shows.)  In addition, the harder to measure “buzz” factor for Girls is very high–people want to subscribe to HBO because it airs an edgy series like Girls, whether they personally watch it or not.  However, whatever way you cut the numbers, it has to be a disappointment to HBO that Girls, which appeared to be poised for a Season 2 bump with all the attention and awards it’s won, didn’t garner one.  (Our review of the Girls season finale is here.)

Meanwhile, the season finale of BANSHEE on HBO’s sister network Cinemax had a total viewership for its initial airing of 455,000 total viewers, about 5% higher than its season average.  That number increased to 655,000 viewers when all the airings on Friday night were included, but no information was available about the 18-49 demo or viewing on other platforms.  (Our Banshee season finale review is here.)

In any case, both Girls and Banshee have been renewed for new seasons, so however underwhelming their numbers may seem, in the eyes of their networks they’re doing something right.

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."