June 25, 2012

THE SKED: “The Newsroom” Ratings

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Full demo numbers for Sunday’s premiere of  Aaron Sorkin’s opus THE NEWSROOM on HBO won’t be available until tomorrow, but we do know that the initial 9PM telecast was watched by 2.1 million people (with an extra 600,000 watching late-night repeat airings).  As usual with mid-level ratings, they can be cut several ways.

The good:  a 2.1 million premiere viewership compares very well with the Season 1 start of Game Of Thrones, which was watched by 2.2 million people in its first telecast (and had a 0.9 rating in 18-49s, although no one would be surprised if Newsroom skews older).  Game, of course, exploded in Season 2, almost doubling to 3.9 million viewers for the first airing of its 2d season.  The less good:  while Game was a self-starter, Newsroom had the advantage of a True Blood lead-in, which had 4.7 million viewers at 9PM–meaning that Newsroom lost more than half of the True Blood audience.  Also, Game added 2 million viewers in its later same-night telecasts, compared to Newsroom‘s 600,000 (but that distinction gets an asterisk, since Game, as a 9PM show, had a 10PM repeat that was still in primetime, while Newsroom‘s 2d airing didn’t start until 11:20PM).

In any case, a very solid start–and as must always be said, HBO doesn’t sell advertising and isn’t governed by ratings the way non-pay networks are.  Girls, for example, is considered a massive win for HBO despite having ratings less than half as strong as Newsroom‘s.  In the buzzmeter that brings in (and keeps) subscribers, having an Aaron Sorkin show is worth more than mere viewership numbers indicate.

It’s worth noting that just 2 days after the premiere of Game of Thrones, HBO announced its renewal for Season 2.  It’s very possible a similar announcement for Newsroom will follow this week–especially since with Episode 2 airing on a pre-holiday weekend, and competing against new Weeds and Episodes half-hours on Showtime, next week’s Newsroom ratings may be appreciably lower than the premiere.

Incidentally, Newsroom wasn’t Sunday’s only scripted premiere:  Army Wives returned to Lifetime for the 2d half of its Season 6.  It was watched by 3.3 million people (remember, basic cable’s universe of viewers is far larger than pay cable’s) and had around a 0.9 18-49 rating, both numbers fairly typical for the show.


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."