The past was all new on HBO on Sunday night with the return of both The Newsroom and The Comeback. Tackling coverage and the media ethics of the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the Aaron Sorkin-created series debuted its final season to a viewership of 1.2 million at 9 PM. That was followed, according to Nielsen, with 300,000 tuning in for the return of The Comeback after almost a decade off the air.
Compared to the 2.2 million who watched its Season 2 premiere at 10 PM on July 14 last year, Newsroom was down almost 45%. Add to that context, that the Jeff Daniels-led ensemble show was now opening in the fall as opposed to the summer and that it was in direct competition with AMC’s powerhouse The Walking Dead. It also lacked the most watched True Blood episode of the now shuttered show’s second to last season as a lead-in as it had last year. Looking at the Lisa Kudrow starrer The Comeback, the first of the show’s 8-episode return run was way, way down from the 2 million viewers that comparable comedy Silicon Valley had for its April 6 debut in the same time slot. Of course, unlike Comeback, the Mike Judge-created show had the blockbuster advantage of the Game Of Thrones Season 4 premiere as a lead-in.
Turning the clock back almost a decade, it was a very different TV landscape when The Comeback first came on the scene. Just a year after Kudrow and fellow Friends cast member wrapped up the megashow’s 10-year run, The Comeback debuted after Entourage on June 5, 2005. Back then the show attracted an audience of nearly 1.5 million. The Comeback’s struggling 13-episode run ended on September 5 that year to a weak 920,000.
Ending the night for HBO on Sunday, the second season of Getting On opened to 309,000 viewers. That’s a fall of 40% from the 520,000 viewers the comedy pulled in for its first season debut right after the Season 4 finale of Boardwalk Empire on November 24, 2013.