The Most-Watched Cable Show Of 2017 Isn't What We Expected

Plenty of new shows have debuted on the small screen in 2017, and some have been more well-received than others. They have ranged from comedies to dramas to sci-fi horrors. Now, the numbers for the year so far are in and we know which of the new cable shows has been watched by the most viewers, and it's not the show that we expected. USA's The Sinner is on top of all the competition.

The Sinner stars Jessica Biel as a young mother who shocks her family when she murders a man in broad daylight and seems to have no idea why she did it. Commercials for the series played up Biel's dramatic turn and didn't shy away from showing the violence, and it seems that the combination worked to hook viewers. In Live+3 day ratings, The Sinner ranks at #1 in new cable shows in several key demographics. The new show is the big winner among adults aged 18-49, adults 25-54, and even total viewers.

Interestingly, the audience for The Sinner actually grew from the first episode to the second, which is atypical for new series. Many shows attract a sizable audience for the premiere thanks to curious viewers who want to give it a try, then the viewership drops off for subsequent episodes when a portion of the audience decides that the show simply isn't for them. The Sinner must be creating the best kind of buzz if more people tuned in for the second episode than the first. Variety reports that the second episode experienced a 7% boost in 18-49 to hit 1.4 million, 5% in 25-54 to hit 1.6 million, and 4% in 18-34 to hit 543,000.

We'll have to wait and see if The Sinner can maintain its growth trend or at least hold steady in future episodes. It's an event series slated to run for eight episodes, so it's possible that viewers will be inclined to follow the action with the knowledge that the story will come to a conclusion by the end of the season with no cliffhanger to keep fans on the hook until next year. The show is also based on a book, so fans of the source material may be tuning in as well.

The Sinner got off to a strong start with a premiere that set the stage for a truly compelling murder mystery. It put a twist on the classic "whodunnit" story; instead of giving us a murder and making us wonder who could be the murderer, The Sinner gives us the who, the what, and the when right off the bat. It's the question of why Cora snapped a murdered a man on a public beach that drives the narrative, and it should be enough to sustain the mystery for the rest of the series.

Most of the season still has yet to air, so it's not to late to start watching. New episodes of The Sinner air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA. For your other viewing choices, take a peek at our fall TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).