The numbers are in and it looks like Outlander performed pretty well for Starz with its opening episode. The premium cable network has announced that the first episode of Ronald D. Moore's new series delivered the strongest multiplatform performance for a new series in the history of Starz.
Outlander is based on a series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, so the adaptation already had an audience ready and waiting for the series to premiere. Starz delivered a week early, setting the first episode up online ahead of its official premiere. Viewers watched it, contributing to the 3.7 million multiplatform total views (and counting) for the first episode, titled "Sassenach." Starz notes that 2.3 million viewers watched the episode on Starz, and there were an additional 1.4 million views among the multiplatform audience. 720,000 Live+ Same Day viewers tuned in for the official premiere of the episode on Starz, which aired Saturday at 9:00 p.m. As for how it performed on social media, Starz boasted the following:
§ No. 1 in Nielsen Ratings for Twitter conversation volume among all television series on premiere day.
In overall performance, Outlander performed on par with Black Sails, another new series that aired on the pay cable network this year. But the network notes that Saturday viewership is 23% lower in August than it is in January, so taking that into account, "on par" is a modest choice of idiom.
As mentioned the series has a pre-established fan base, when factoring in those fans of the book who were eager to finally see this story adapted. It'll be well worth seeing whether or not the audience builds from the premiere. Will fans stick with it, and will those who haven't read the book check out the series. Starz notes that the audience for the first episode was nearly evenly split, with 51% being female.
Set in Scotland, Outlander centers on Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a British World War II combat nurse who's on vacation with her husband after the war when she visits a mysterious rock formation and finds herself thrown back through time to the 18th century. From there, she's forced to try to figure out how to get back to her time while also attempting to survive in a very different and sometimes dangerous environment. She's also eventually forced to marry Jamie Fraser (Sam Heaghan), a gallant warrior.
Outlander's Scotland setting, the time period, the romance and adventure all amount to a story brimming with potential for great TV. Everything we've seen of the first handful of episode indicates that Starz's series will deliver on that. So, hopefully the numbers hold and build as the series moves forward. Watch the first full episode here.