There are similarities and some stark differences between the debut of the fourth season of HBO’s Girls on Sunday and the Season 3 launch last year. In the similarities category, series creator Lena Dunham was up for Golden Globes awards both this year and last year with no wins either time. In both cases, Girls debuted against the Golden Globes. In the difference category, last year saw the Season 3 of Girls premiering at 10 PM after the debut of the heavily promoted True Detective. That wasn’t the case this year and it showed – with Girls as well as the Looking Season 2 premiere and the debut of Togetherness.
With a 39% free-fall, this Sunday’s Season 4 premiere of Girls had just 680,000 viewers at 9 PM. That’s the lowest season opener ever for Girls, which garnered 870,000 viewers for Seasons 1 and 2. Among the 18-49 demo, the series snagged 390,000 viewers on Sunday, down 35% from the start of Season 3 last year and another low.
With 2.3 million viewers and the best HBO series debut since Boardwalk Empire, last year’s True Detective lead-in helped give Girls a series high of 1.1 million.
Written by Dunham and fellow EP Judd Apatow, the total viewership for Sunday’s debut was more in line with the Season 3 finale of March 23 last year. That airing had 670,000 total viewers. In fact, the Season 4 opener did 1% better than the Season 3 closer.
Following Girls was the series debut of Togetherness at 10 PM. The eight-episode series from brothers Jay and Mark Duplass about a couple of LA couples living in the same house had a very soft 427,000 viewers. Without a Game Of Thrones lead-in like Silicon Valley had for its series debut on April 6 last year, it is probably best to compare Togetherness’ premiere to the 872,000 beginning of Girls on April 15, 2o12, after Eastbound & Down, or the November 13, 2013 start of Getting On, which had 520,000 viewers after the fourth-season finale of Boardwalk Empire on a very competitive night. In either comparison, the new show does not have much standing.
Ending the night of premieres for HBO, the Season 2 launch of dramedy Looking drew 183,000 viewers. That’s down 45% from its January 19, 2014 debut. Following a non-premiere episode of Girls, that 10:30 show had a then-slight 338,000 total viewers. The March 9 Season 1 finale of Looking pulled about 420,000 viewers, down from the 519,000 season high of February 23, which had a particularly strong True Detective as a lead-in for that night.