Literally bathed in blood, the Season 2 premiere of the John Logan-created Showtime series got a bite taken out of it on Sunday. With 575,000 total viewers watching on May 3 at 10 PM, Penny Dreadful fell 34% from its Season 1 debut on May 11, 2014. In fact, the Season 2 debut of the drama starring Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett and Rory Kinnear is the lowest viewership result for the series so far. The previous low for Penny Dreadful was its June 15 episode, which drew a total audience of 680,000.
There is, however, a bit of a silver lining in the London fog for the Victorian gothic series. With Week 2 of 9:30 PM’s Happyish as its lead-in, the S2 opener of Penny Dreadful rose 142% from the Shalom Auslander satire’s 237,000 viewers. Then again, the PD S2 debut was down 32% from the 856,000 viewers who watched the S1 finale on June 29 last year.
What is most striking is that Happyish, which was up 2% from its regular time slot debut on April 26, lost a whopping 68% of the 742,000 viewers who watched Nurse Jackie at 9 PM. Noteworthy too is that while the Edie Falco-led series dropped 20% last week from the second show of its seventh and final season, the series rose 13% this week from its April 26 airing. Then again Nurse Jackie went up 52% from its April 12 season debut to 810,000 viewers in Week 2 of Season 7. Diluting some of Happyish‘s potential is that the new show had a 10 PM April 5 sneak peak behind Shameless — a peek that pulled in better numbers that its two regular-slot airings put together.
Now, like FX and HBO, Showtime isn’t inclined to talk about anything less than Live+3 numbers, which it believes are a more comprehensive appraisal of how DVR-friendly shows like this do. So we’ll see those numbers in a few days.
Of course, a bit of a digital dish might have eaten into the great ratings meal for Penny Dreadful. Like last year, Showtime put the first episode of the new season online more than a week before its TV premiere for fans and potential fans to sample. Then again, the CBS-owned premium cabler had a free preview weekend on DirecTV that probably could have brought in a few more eyeballs than usual – even if they weren’t PPVing the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight on Saturday night. The potential result of both of those freebies is that the Skyfall writer’s series might have found some new but straggling followers. Let’s see what the Live+3 tea leaves and the Week 2 results say.
Season 2 of Penny Dreadful wraps July 5.