New sci-fi drama Westworld has been in the works at HBO for a long time, and those of us who have been waiting to see the small screen adaptation of one of Michael Crichton's weirder movies were finally rewarded for our patience this weekend. The network devoted a lot of time and money into making the show unlike anything else on TV, and the high production values show in every scene. Now, the ratings for the premiere are in, and they're not too shabby, especially for a sci-fi show. The first episode of Westworld attracted well over 3 million viewers on its first night.
Preliminary numbers for the Westworld premiere indicate 3.3 million viewers tuned in live on TV or streaming via HBO Go or HBO Now. The 3.3 million from the multiple platforms means that Westworld was the highest-rated drama series premiere for HBO since the first episode of True Detective back in 2014, according to Deadline. It's too soon to say that Westworld will be a major hit for HBO, but the show has gotten off to a respectable start.
Of course, True Detective is not necessarily the HBO offering with the most in common with Westworld. That honor goes to Game of Thrones, which is a similarly big-budget genre series. Season 6 of Game of Thrones cost $100 million to produce a total of ten episodes, and Westworld reportedly received the same budget. To compare, the Thrones series premiere drew 2.2 million viewers when it first aired back in April 2011. Game of Thrones kicked off before the the HBO Now streaming option expanded the reach of HBO to non-cable TV subscribers, though, and the 2.2 million likely would have been higher if streaming had been available. Still, it bodes fairly well for Westworld that it hit 3.3 million in its debut episode.
That said, it's worth noting that Game of Thrones' weekly numbers have significantly increased over the years. The first season averaged only 2.52 million viewers per week in 2011, but by Season 6 in 2016, an average of 7.69 million viewers were tuning in weekly. (And the delayed viewing helps that even more.) HBO got impressive results for that $100 million investment, but Westworld may need to perform better than 3.3 million if the show is going to justify such a massive budget for any future seasons. Star James Marsden recently revealed that the creative team behind the scenes, including creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, already has five or six seasons planned out, which means that a lot of time and a lot of money will be required to achieve the producers' vision for the series.
Hopefully Westworld will attract the audiences it needs to stay on the air, even if it has to create those audiences out of robot parts. New episodes air on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. If you haven't checked it out for yourself yet, take a look at three big reasons why you need to tune in ASAP. Don't forget to see our fall TV premiere schedule to pick what else to watch in the near future.