In fact, the small screen deities looked so favorably upon the April 30, 9 PM start of the Bryan Fuller and Michael Green adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 award-winning novel that it almost broke an original series debut for the premium cabler.
With 975,000 total viewers for the 63-minute first episode of the Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle-led fantasy drama, American Gods topped the debuts of Power, Outlander and the now ended Black Sails. However, the beginning of the eight episode first season of Gods did not achieve the level of viewership worship of the premiere of Camelot in 2011 or Da Vinci’s Demons in 2013. Those Starz originals snagged 1.13 million and 1.04 million for their respective openers.
Compared to the more recent August 9, 2014 premiere of the Ronald D. Moore developed adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s historical highlander novel, Gods was up 35% in total viewership for its initial airing. Next to the June 7, 2014 debut of Power, Gods had an advantage of 73%.
Impressive as those double-digit debut leads are for American Gods, and they are, there are two things to consider in context. First of all, Starz opened both Outlander and Power on Saturdays and, secondly, both have gone on to surge in subsequent seasons. For instance, the Season 2 opener for Outlander drew 1.46 million on April 9, 2016, which was a Saturday. Going up to 1.43 million for its June 6, 2015, a Saturday, Season 2 kickoff, Power popped even more for its Season 3 start of July 17 last year. The Courtney Kemp-created NYC drama captured an audience of 2.3 million in Live + Same Day numbers for that Sunday primetime opener.
The Season 3 debut of Power is the most watched episode of any Starz original series ever – with its fourth season set to launch on June 25.
Over three plays on April 30, American Gods drew 1.4 million viewers. That’s better than Power’s Season 1 debut’s total play viewership, but just behind the 1.47 million that Outlander had over all its plays on its opening Saturday night nearly three years ago. There is a caveat to that comparison as well – both Power and Outlander had four plays total on their series debut night, while the FremantleMedia produced American Gods had three on Sunday.
Starz are of course making their prayers for the Live + 3 numbers that will come later this week. However, while waiting for that delayed viewing, there are a couple of Gods demo snapshots worth taking a look at. Among adults 18-49, the 9 – 10:03 PM debut of American Gods had 462,000 viewers for a 0.4 rating. Among Women 18+, the series opener had 468,000, which is the most ever for a Starz original series premiere.
No doubt thanks to the EPs, the cast and the well-followed Gaiman himself all live tweeting during the debut, American Gods was trending at #3 on Twitter in the U.S. As social media is a vital part of any series’ appeal, especially in the AG genre, the show was #4 globally from 9 PM – 1 AM on May 1st, according to Twitter.